MICHIGAN CITY — When The Dollhouse Offshore Race Team owner Clyde Petty was asked about where his love for boats began, his answer was unorthodox, humorous and garnered a chuckle and a retort from the gallery.
“Honestly, watching Miami Vice all the time as a child is where it all started for me,” Petty said. “I used to watch it all the time and I knew way back then that I wanted to be in a boat or working on one.”
“Oh, please,” Petty’s wife Elizabeth said with a quick laugh. “We still watch Miami Vice all the time.”
Petty’s family and team made the two-day, 20-hour journey this week from the Tampa, Fla. area to compete in the Great Lakes Super Boat Grand Prix on Sunday in the Lake Michigan waters of Michigan City. They arrived just a few hours prior to Thursday’s “Meet The Racers Party” at Sunset Grille.
“I was up Tuesday morning at 8 to Wednesday night at 8,” Petty said. “I didn’t sleep the whole way and drove all the way up here. I’m not doing it for the money. It’s a bucket list thing. It’s exciting.
“We’re looking forward to wandering around the city and seeing what it has to offer. We’re looking forward to checking out this famous lighthouse you guys have here and waiting for Sunday to give everybody a good show.”
Although Petty is a Peoria, Ill. native, he’s riding on Lake Michigan for the first time and his navigator, Will Dehayes, on Sunday is seeing the Midwest for the first time, period.
“We’ve been to New York to do some races and in Florida where we’re from, but this is a pretty big venture for us coming all the way up here to race,” Petty said. “It’s definitely different. Racing in a lake is much different than racing in an ocean. It’s a different atmosphere here, too.”
Dehayes, a 22-year-old political science student at the University of South Florida, noted that the only time he’s ever seen snow was on vacations growing up. Other than that, this weekend at Washington Park is his first real experience of the northern part of the United States.
“I’ve lived in South Florida my whole life, but this is a pretty cool experience to come all the way up here and race somewhere that I’ve never been before,” Dehayes said. “We’re really looking for to it.”
Dehayes, Petty and The Dollhouse team will be in the water for the first heats at 11 a.m. Sunday in the Manufacturer No. 3 (P3) race.
The race should bring plenty of excitement for spectactors at the beach, and as for those that maybe consider taking a leap into offshore boat racing, Petty had two key bullet points on that topic.
“First thing about offshore boat racing is that you have to love it,” Petty said. “You have to truly have a passion for it because it’s not easy and it’s gotta be something you really love. In the class that our team’s in, just to compete and participate, you’re probably looking at $250,000 when you factor in everything along the way.”
Dehayes compared it to the typical lifestyle of other motorsports.
You have those long nights and weeks of working on whatever it is you’re working on, a car, a boat, a bike ...,” he said.”It’s a lot of work for an hour-long race like this one [on Sunday].”
What: Great Lakes Grand Prix
Where: Washington Park
Race Times: Sunday, 11 a.m., 1 p.m.