You're not supposed to mess with success, nor to fix something that ain't broke.
But after three decades of unbroken success, the organizers of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix decided to make some changes to this year's event anyway.
"We have some new and exciting things going on this year," said Lucy Nicandri. She's the director of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival and the executive director of Suncoast Charities for Children, which organizes the festival.
The festival has been going on all week, but the main events are this weekend, with Friday's Festival Parade of Boats and street party and the races themselves on Saturday and Sunday.
That's probably the most significant new development for most fans. For the first time ever, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix will offer two full days of racing, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on the Fourth of July and the day after.
And, for the first time ever, the races will include personal watercraft -- which most people call by the brand names Jet Skis or WaveRunners.
That's an especially big deal for Jason Russo of Bradenton. He's been racing for more several years. But this will be his first chance to race right here in his own back yard, instead of traveling for hours.
"It's awesome," Russo said. "All of my friends and family are going to be there. And in my series, we have racers from Indonesia, from the UK. I keep telling them I live in paradise. Now they're going to be able to see paradise."
Russo said he's been attending the race as a spectator for years, so it's a special thrill to be racing instead of watching this time.
Another Bradenton resident, Ryan Beckley, has been racing all over the country for more than 20 years, and always looks forward to the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix. Even if it weren't so close to home, he said, it's the one he'd especially like to win."
"Sarasota's one of the biggest," he said. "This is the 31st year for Sarasota, so it's one of the oldest races in the country."
Beckley's most recent race was in Missouri, so it took him all day to get there. (He won that one.) For the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, he can sleep in his own bed, get to the race in minutes and compete on front of his hometown crowd.
One indication of how big the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix has grown is that, for the first time ever, the races will be broadcast on national TV, although they won't be live. CBS Sports Network will show the races in a two-hour prime time special at 7 p.m. July 15 and repeat the broadcast at 11 p.m. that same night. Regionally, Fox Sun Sports will also show the races, but Nicandri doesn't know when.
In addition to attracting some of the best powerboat and personal watercraft racers in the world, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix brings about 50,000 people to Sarasota every year, including thousands from other countries. The economic impact to the community has been calculated at $26 million a year.
It's also one of the biggest fund raisers of the year for Suncoast Charities for Children, which provides grants that area children's services groups rely on.
5-8 p.m.: "Fleming's Fan Fest" with race teams at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Sarasota. Live entertainment by Joey Lavallee and The Groove Hounds
10-11:30 a.m.: "Meet and Greet Who's in the Drivers Seat" reception, Hyatt Regency Sarasota; $5 adults, children ages 12 and younger free
noon-5 p.m.: Powerboats by the Bay, Centennial Park -- dry pits. Food, beverage vendors, music; free. No coolers or pets allowed.
11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Race testing for powerboats, directly off Lido Beach between New Pass and Big Pass
4 p.m.-midnight: Downtown block party, Lemon Avenue between First Street and State Street. Food, beverage vendors, music by One Night Rodeo; free
5 and 9 p.m.: Miss Hooters Swimsuit Pageant, Lemon Avenue stage. Winners announced at 11 p.m.
6 p.m.: Festival Parade of Boats, Main Street, Sarasota
10 a.m.-7 p.m.: Powerboats by the Bay, Centennial Park -- dry pits. Food, beverage vendors, music; free. No coolers or pets allowed.
9 p.m.: Fireworks over Sarasota Bay. Best viewing is along the Sarasota Bayfront near Island Park.
10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Powerboat and Jet Ski Races at Lido Beach. Food, beverage vendors, music; free. No coolers or pets allowed.
Complimentary trolley service from downtown to Lido Beach is available 9 a.m.-6 p.m. July 4-5. For detailed information, location and tickets: sarasotapowerboatgrandprix.org.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.