The Drag Race: Burning up the Water
Drag racing cars has always been a staple of motorsports, from street to strip and stock cars to top fuel, there is something about that short sprint that is incredibly captivating for drivers and audiences. For boats, drag racing is equally, if not more exciting, the incredible acceleration and driver skill to keep the boat on track make it fun to watch and more fun to drive. In the 80s drag racing mono-hull and Mod VP hulls was quite popular. One great aspect of racing outboard powered boats in a sprint is it is more accessible to racers, quite a bit safer and brings a level of competitiveness that racers love. In 2016, the Ontario Power Boat Racing Association, OPBRA, recognized the growing interest in drag racing stock class boats and made the move to organize 3 classes.
With HP class parity, you see almost every kind of boat old and new. (photo: Bob Larocque)
Our neighbours to the north are blessed with incredible lakes and rivers, so naturally they are crazy about boats as well. The OPBA sanctions classes by power, the Formula class is a “turnkey” class with maximum power of 225 HP, so you can bring almost any type of boat. Lake Racer class puts a 300 HP limit, where many run 260 and 280 V6s, the Outlaw class pushes it to 400 HP. But, anyone who’s dragged raced any vehicle, HP isn’t everything, you have to hook up and hit the 800’ mark faster than the other guy. I love the idea of stock power for any type of boat racing, it makes things more affordable and fair. Additionally, this parity makes driver skill, setup and strategy the keys to winning.
Part of the popularity is the fact racers can run a stock STV, Allison, Charger, Hydrostream, Checkmate or anything really, so if you have a boat, you can potentially compete. The Lake Racer class keeps things safe as well, which everyone can appreciate. Some Lake Racers might hit 70 MPH, the other classes can get up to 100 MPH, so it’s incredibly exciting for both driver and fan. Sponsors are backing it up so it’s a win win for everyone.
There are lots of organized races in the US as well, and these types of racing organizations and events can be done in small communities anywhere. It is really encouraging to see the level of interest in old school races like this and makes me believe the sport has a bright future. Thanks to Brent Valois for sending the photos and letting us know about how popular these races are in Ontario. (Photo credits to Bob Larocque and OPBRA.)