I agree, moving the dry pits to the fairgrounds was stupid, but I'll bet it was for cost reasons. The Van Wezel has been charging more and more for the last few years now. And if it rains hard, the fairgrounds turns into a quagmire.
The race is in transition this year because of a new group taking over from the old group that ran it for 20 years although part of the old group is helping with the transition.
If they were going to run a "short" course, they should have run it the same way the Sarasota Offshore Showdown did in Aug. 03'. Run it front of Siesta. At least you have two ways on/off the island plus Siesta is MUCH larger.
Once referred to as the "Indy 500" of offshore racing, this race has been going downhill since the APBA left five years or so ago although last year was the best it had been although VERY confusing as to who was racing who.
After helping out for six years, I got so disgusted with the backdoor politics of the Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix "group" trying to cancel the Sarasota Offshore Showdown race in 03: I just withdrew. The steadfast refusal of "the old guard" of the Sarasota Offshore Racing Association (SORA) to even offer to help the SOS (which would have given them access to a whole new group of people to draw on for membership) ultimately led to the demise of SORA which is no longer. It was the oldest sanctioned race club in the country. The membership of SORA had become so apathetic, that at the last SORA poker run, not one single boat showed up. Sad.....
The club desperatelly needed a "blood transfusion" and they had the chance, but the "old blood" blew it. Plain and simple. And the mistake was fatal.