Lake powers up for Southeastern powerboat races

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email
Powerboat racing

About 70 boats are expected for the Southeastern Divisional, a qualifier for nationals. (WRDW-TV / June 22, 2012)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, June 22, 2012

APPLING, Ga. -- Ready, set, go! It's time to race on Clarks Hill.

"This is your throttle. These are all your gadgets, your gauges," said Gary Pond, showing off his boat.

You could say powerboat racing is in Pond's blood.

"My family's been racing since 1954," said Pond, who's traveled down from Richmond, Va.

Pond's team is getting ready to race this weekend.

"It's a skill. It's a talent. Some people got it and some people don't," he said.

Racing also runs in the family for Junior National Champion 13-year-old Austin Price.

"My grandpa builds them," said Price of one of his boats.

Boats in the junior division run about 45 to 50 miles per hour.

"It's crazy. A lot of people say 43 to 50's not that fast, but on the water, being so close it feels like double the speed. It feels like I'm going 100," said the teenager from Haymarket, Va.

About 70 boats are expected for the Southeastern Divisional, a qualifier for nationals.

"You win the divisional ... it's a big deal. Some of the faster boats will be doing well over 100 miles an hour," explained Mel Thomas with the Carolina-Virginia Racing Association.

The boats will run laps around Wildwood Park. Lake levels are about 7.5 feet lower than they should be, something some of the boaters were surprised to see.

"I was shocked how low the water is. We've got plenty of water up there where we are. I was told parts of Georgia was going through a tough drought, and I can see it now, this lake is really down," Pond said.

"We'd certainly like to see the lake up higher, if the lake was up higher ... we'd probably have a little wider course. The turns would be wider," Thomas said.

Wider turns or not, it's sure to be a fast and fun couple of days.

"It's just crazy. It's a whole 'nother type of racing," Price said.

The drivers are ready, and they hope you are, too.

There are five divisionals that qualify for nationals, which will be held in Michigan later this year. Lightning on the Lake gets started Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. at Wildwood Park in Appling. It will only cost you $5 a car.


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