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Racers Input Fuels New APBA Offshore
By Michelle May -Schmidt

Orlando, FL - - “I can’t do anything about the past. I prefer to live in the present. I can’t do anything about those things I can’t change, but I will work like hell to change the things I can,” said Bob Bull, C.E.O. of APBA Offshore Power Boat Racing, Inc. in a precedent setting, re-organization meeting held on January 31st in Orlando.

That meeting, open to all members and potential members of APBA Offshore, promoters, sponsors and media, was well attended by over 80 representatives who were privy to the inner workings of the company, including corporate documents verifying sole ownership by Bull.

Even more impressive was the complete disclosure of the organization’s financial planner, both through the income and expenses to operate the race events themselves, to the costs of the administration.

Bull, who began his racing career in the early nineties, said his long-term direction and commitment was to support his President, Jim Poplin, and their entire team with the building of the new APBA Offshore.

Poplin, well known and respected by the racers for his dedication to their safety as the Director of the Stars Rescue Team, was well received as he and Bull went over the team goals for the 2004 powerboat racing season.

“Our purpose it to improve the sport, increase our member professionalism, expect quality, lower the cost of participation for APBA members, increase the value to the sponsors and promoters, and we will not be NASCAR, we will be better,” said Bull, who made it clear that there was going to be an open door policy on suggestions and ideas.

“We look at our club as a racers club. That means we will start with a clean slate, so we can make our program into anything we want,” added Bull, who bought the entire offshore racing organization in December 2003.

During the meeting, which covered a number of topics including the business model, safety, racing rules, promotion and sponsorship, class technical rules, and volunteer committees, it was disclosed that APBA Offshore has been awarded a five-year license to sanction events under the one hundred year old American Power Boat Association (APBA). The license also continues to make them the only offshore powerboat racing organization in the United States to award (U.I.M.) Union Internationale Motornautique World Championship titles.

In addition, Poplin announced the first of the 2004 race season venues, along with noting that they would only post a race site on the schedule once it was confirmed as a committed site. The first confirmed race of the season included the ever-popular southeast divisional in St. Cloud over the weekend April 2nd and 3rd. That event will be open to APBA racers, and non-racers will be able to join on a single event membership to attend and compete.

Members were excited to learn that both the Marathon event, the weekend of May 14th through the 16th, and all time fan and racer favorite, Key West, were back on track, with the APBA Offshore/U.I.M. Key West World Championships being held the week of November 14th through the 21st.

While Lee Mills gave the Key West date to APBA Offshore, it will be former racer, Jim Kimes who will bring back the return of the Key West Power Boat Racing Association, as the producer.

A total of eight additional race sites were under various stages of negotiations, with announcements to be continued as they are finalized.

In addition to the continuance of Dee Kimes as Registrar and Chief Scorer, and Paul Abreu as Chief Inspector, Clay Ingle was appointed Medical and Safety Director along with Bobby Farr in the position of Risk Manager. David Thompson will head up Operations.

Mark Skrzypek, formerly with General Motors, took on the key role of Sponsorship Fulfillment Director. He will work alongside Tony Dacoba to help this new organization reach its financial goals.

Skryzpek spent much of the seminar on the new APBA Offshore business model, and welcomed suggestions from the participants on how the new company could be structured to meet those concerns while satisfying the needs of the racers.

One of the main concerns was continuance or cancellation of the national television series due to cost versus return, however the general consensus was that television, in order of racer priority, was at the top of the list.

While the organization itself suggested the Professional Race Membership Program at a fee of $5,000.00 per member to offset the costs of the television production, of which the total Bob Bull himself would match, a discussion gave way to the idea that if the racer membership discontinued the prize money disbursement for 2004, the funds could be allocated back to cover television, without having to require the racers to come out of pocket for funds.

That idea was unanimously presented and agreed to by the race teams present, and the organization will now begin negotiating both the television production of the 2004 shows, as well as T.V. network opportunities, all which will be presented back to the membership for their input.

This gave way to more positive improvements for the group and its members, such as the severing of the relationship with CRE, and the inclusion of the all new, technical committee. Under that format would exist the competition committee, made up of APBA member representatives, one per class, with P class being split into P1-5 and PX, PT and PV as one combined voice.

Included into the technical committee would be the Chief Inspector, and two representatives at large taken from the boat manufacturer and drive/engine/prop manufacturer’s categories.

“I believe that allowing our racers to participate in the decision making, makes the entire organization run smoothly. My job as Operations Director for APBA Offshore is to make things go smoothly once we get to the site, and having the committee handle the technical input makes that a positive part of our well-oiled machine,” said David Thompson.

Poplin said that nominations for the class representatives will be taken from registered owners of record as of March 1, 2004, and will close March 22, 2004. Ballots will be sent in the mail and via email beginning March 23, 2004 and all ballots must be received by March 30, 2004 via fax or email. Results will be announced at the St. Cloud Race.

“As a way of getting more involvement and input from the boating manufacturer’s, APBA Offshore has a new Manufacturer’s 1 and 2 class under consideration, with the M-1 class maximum speed of 75 mph and M-2 at no greater than 80 mph. We believe that this will promote safety, encourage more entry level race team participation and more direct manufacturer involvement in the sport,” said Skrzypek.

For now, the 2003 technical rules will remain with the exception of Super Cat, which include the use of any drive combination, same weight under all configurations, and any hull with a tunnel width of over 66” would be administered a parity penalty.

“I’m not asking a racer not to attend any other clubs sanctioned events, I’m a racer, too, and I will probably take my boat to the water at other events. What I am asking is that the teams also race APBA Offshore, and currently, we already have 57 race teams registered for the 2004 season.”

“I am proud to stand here as your President,” said Poplin. “I am honored and pleased to be able to lead this organization back to where we want it to be. I have known many of you for many years. The type of relationship I have had with you, truth, honesty, I expect to continue that. I think you have seen the openness here today.”

For all information on the new APBA Offshore Powerboat Racing Association, or to apply for a class representative nomination form, visit www.apbaoffshore.com.