Drag boat racing hits the Savannah

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, July 21, 2007

AUGUSTA, GA---It's the 22nd annual Augusta Southern Nationals, and the high speed water race is bringing a lot of noise, a big crowd, and a lot of money to the Garden City.

They've come from more than 25 states, and as far North as Canada to race on the Savannah this weekend and the fast paced thrills didn't disappoint.

At speeds of more than 250 miles an hour, it's hard for any fan of speed not to enjoy the sights and sounds of drag boat racing.

"It's bad to the bone!" laughs fan David Nettles.

"Just a thrill, love it!" screams David Jenkins.

"Anything mechanical, anything fast, anything loud. It's what we like." adds Jason Lovell, who brought his four year old son Austin for the first time. When asked if he was having fun, Austin Lovell couldn't wipe the smile from his face.

And he's not the only one, even the veteran drivers say it's still a thrill, every time. Scotty Lumbert has raced for over a decade, this time he's with MMG Motorsports out of North Carolina. "Just adrenaline you know. I'm an adrenaline junkie!"

But a lot of work goes into putting the race on every year both on and off the water.

It's an event put on by a staff of volunteers like Dayton Sherrouse.
"You get a group of people together and do something not for profit, but for the city."

After expenses are covered, all proceeds are donated to the Georgia Special Olympics. That's why Sherrouse says he comes back to volunteer, every year since the races began here in Augusta back in 1986. "Things we take for granted you see them really putting everything they've got on the line under very difficult circumstances. And that's a very satisfying thing."

For others it's the speed, or the noise, and the close calls.

But who the big winner will be is still anybody's guess.

News 12 asked Lumbert if he would win and he laughed "I hope so, that's the plan. But they're six other in the class that all want to win and we're going to do our best to beat them all."

Now there's about 80 boats competing this year, that's up 14 boats from last year. And organizers say the more teams, the more money pumped into our economy.

Last year 1.2 million dollars were spent in the Garden City from hotels, to restaurants and other activities.

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