There is probably no single race more famous than The Benihana Offshore Grand Prix. This race was known as the Indy 500 of Offshore Racing and was held in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, during the 1970's. The New Jersey Offshore Powerboat Racing Association has been the host club since racing started in Point Pleasant Beach some 40+ years ago. NJ Offshore (NJOPRA) is still a very active club with over 100 members and has kept the tradition of Offshore Racing alive on the Jersey Shore for all those years.
Over the years, the name of the Point Pleasant Beach race has been changed each time a new sponsor was obtained. It's been called: The Hennessey Offshore Grand Prix, The Benihana Offshore Grand Prix, The Ray Catena Offshore Grand Prix, The New Jersey Offshore Grand Prix, The War at the Shore, the Jenkinson's Offshore Grand Prix and the year of 2005 it was called The Jersey Boyz Offshore Grand Prix.
During the years, the race course has gotten smaller and shorter. In the Benihana days, the race was over 200 miles long running laps from NY's Fire Island to Seaside Heights NJ. One lap was about 80 miles. For the spectators, and there were many, the boats came by once an hour and only three or four times depending upon the race course configurations. Today the racecourse is a small 4 mile oval as close to the beach as possible. Since the beach drops off quickly, the boats usually run within 150 feet of the surf. Even the outside leg can be clearly seen from the shoreline.
The NJ race has also seen its share of sanction flags. Originally, the race was the premier APBA National Offshore Race. This race ran on the third Wednesday of the month of July like clockwork. People would book their vacations around race week, as it was always a source of excitement. Back in 1975 a fast boat in NJ was a 21' Searay with a 188 Merc I/O. So when the big boats came to town, it was quite a show.
Ed "Smitty" Smith has taken over the reigns at OPA for 14 years (OPA started in 2002) and is working on making offshore great again! OPA Racing welcomes racers from all over the world to come and race in 1 of their 15 classes.