Johnson City Press Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Winged Deer to feature 'the wildest half-mile water race'

August 22nd, 2014 9:09 am by Tony Casey

Winged Deer to feature 'the wildest half-mile water race'

Todd Brinkman, race director for the U.S. Championship Outboard Hydroplane Title Series, admits there is an element of danger in the event at Winged Deer Park on Sept. 12-14, but that’s the nature of the sport.

Quake on the Lake will occur on Boone Lake and wrap up the series of nationwide races.

It’s not only the first time that this multi-day race event has occurred in Johnson City, but Gavin Andrews, with the Chamber of Commerce serving Johnson City, Jonesborough and Washington County, said it’s the first time Tennessee is hosting such an event.

“(U.S. Title Series officials) did a site visit and saw it as perfect,” Andrews said of Winged Deer Park as the host site.

Brinkman said there are elements of the water course that will be unique to the racers, whom he said are used to racing on wider, more open bodies of water. But because of some of the cliffs surrounding the water, the course chosen for the racers is more well-protected from the wind and waves than other courses in the series. The tight body of water in front of the park, Brinkman said, makes for good technical racing, upping the danger level.

“They could go airborne, get turned over or collide. But that’s racing,” Brinkman said.

It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen, he said. They could go three races with no boats getting turned over and then have three occur in the next race. Getting turned over isn’t as violent as the consequences of some of the other possibilities, but damage to the boats can be expensive. Brinkman said each of the boats can cost around $15,000, and that’s before any kind of trailer is taken into consideration.

Brinkman, a former racer, said people who take part in competing don’t do it for the money — because there isn’t much given to the winners — but because it’s something that gets into your blood.

“Once it’s in your blood, it’s hard to get out,” he said.

Looking at all the people and teams who will compete in the different classes, it’s apparently something that’s gotten into a lot of bloodstreams. Brinkman said they’ll come in from New York, Florida, Minnesota, Texas and California to take part.

Thursday is the day when most of the 100-120 racing teams will arrive, with testing taking place Sept. 12 and racing happening in different classes of engine sizes and boats Sept. 13-14. With 11 different classes, dependent on engine sizes that are designed specifically for racing and running on methanol fuel, there is a race for each class. There are three distinctive types of boats in the U.S. circuit, with Runabouts, Hydroplanes and Capsules being the most common.

Because this is the final event of the series, Brinkman said the world’s best will be on hand to compete for points in an attempt to finish out the season series on top.

Andrews said the goal of the local Chamber was to make this an affordable event that will continue to grow in popularity in the area. To do this, Andrews said they’ve decided to make Sept. 12 a day where free entry is offered. For the racing days Sept. 13-14, Andrews said they opted to go with charging $20 per car, rather than a price of admission for each person.

To pre-order tickets for the races, Andrews wants to direct people to the website, www.quakeonthelakejctn.com.

Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.

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