Hurricane Ivan Postpones Plans For This Weekend's Emerald Coast Offshore Gran Prix

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The three-day powerboat racing event's date to be moved as the Florida panhandle braces for storm.

As Northwest Florida's Emerald Coast braces for the potential arrival of Hurricane Ivan, APBA Offshore and Business Leaders have postponed this weekends APBA Offshore GMC Pro Grade Series Emerald Coast Offshore Gran Prix, to be held September 17 - 19, 2004 and a new date will be forthcoming.

According to reports from the National Hurricane Center, the storm, which has fluctuated between a Catergoy-4 and Category-5 in strength, may assume landfall near the Destin- Fort Walton Beach - Okaloosa Island area, exactly where the event, a three day powerboat racing competition was to be held.

"At 10:15 A.M. this morning, one of the storm track models showed a strong probability of making landfall in the Okaloosa County area. Our greatest concerns are for the citizens of the Florida Panhandle, as well as our competitors and fans who had planned to travel to the area beginning today and arriving as early as Thursday. The best decision at this time is for everyone to stay safely at home and allow the citizens of this area to do what they can to protect themselves," said Jim Poplin, President of the APBA Offshore Racing Association.

Poplin says that the group has held discussions with the County and U.S. Coast Guard and both entities agreed continue an extension of the permits to allow the event to return to the area. A new date for the event and all information will be posted on the http://www.apbaoffshoreracing.com website as soon as the decision has been reached, as early as next week.

The Ramada Plaza Beach Resort, the Official Host Hotel and Race Headquarters for the event, has noted that all hotel current reservation holders need to contact the property, toll free at 1-800-874-8962 or in Florida at 850-243-9161 to cancel their reservation without penalty, and may make new reservations once the new date in announced.

"This was certainly an unexpected turn of events that was out of everyone's control, however, our plans are to return to the area and put on a first class event for the citizens, our fans and teams. Right now, our concern is for the safety of everyone involved," said Poplin.

“We want to give special thanks to David Thompson, our Operations Director who has spent the last month in the area for all of his hard work, and that of the many business leaders that have assisted us in organizing this event, including Presenting Sponsors Okaloosa County and the Tourist Development Council, the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc., the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort and Poker Runs America Magazine.”

The organization would also like to thank the local businesses and event location providers that have supported the event, including The Boardwalk, site of the Official Race Village, the Travis Boating Center for use of Crane facilities, the City of Destin and Joe’s Bayou Recreational Center for the Ramp use, Harbor Cove Fishing Charters, the Official Turn Boat and On Course Viewing Providers, Party Sponsors, Hog’s Breath – Destin, The Swamp and The Crab Trap at The Boardwalk, and The Lewis Bear Company and as well as Shofar Stage Productions for the Official Bud Light® Beach Broadcast, all who will remain for the new event dates.

For continued updates and new date and hotel information for the 2004 Emerald Coast Offshore Gran Prix, stay tuned to http://www.apbaoffshoreracing.com and sign up for the FREE E- News Fan Club to receive information and news via E-Mail.

For information on the Destin - Fort Walton Beach - Okaloosa Island Emerald Coast and the amenities available, visit http://www.destin-fwb.com

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Michelle May - Schmidt
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