IT’S A DRAG: Saturday’s drag boat race reminds Graham of old times

Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 1, 2019

Gentlemen, start your motors!

At that command, two high-performance race boats will drift to the starting line. When the green light flashes, the boats will power off and up to a speed of 100 mph. When the boats cross the finish line, and the winner will advance to the next race.

That will be the scene at Lake Simmie on Saturday when the Southern Outlaw Drag Boat Association (SODA) and the Hamilton Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department host the 2nd Annual 800-foot outboard motor drag boat race.

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The gates will open at 9 a.m. and the racing will start around 11 a.m. Admission is $8. Those under the age of 12 will be admitted free.

For Lake Simmie owners, Rayvon and Polly Graham, the race will be rather nostalgic, as least for Rayvon. Although, he has never participated in a drag race on water, he is a veteran of draggin’ on concrete.

With years, even a few decades, between the many times Graham reeved up the engine of his 1955 Chevy, he still remembers the thrill of the drag race.

“Most of the time, we raced on what is now a closed strip of Highway 231 just south of Brundidge,” Graham said. “Sometimes, we would race from Prestwood’s Café down the hill to the Pea River. Back then, there weren’t many cars on the road and there was only one highway patrolman anywhere close around.”

So, let the racing begin.

Graham said the signal for the race to start was given by the passenger in one of the two cars in the race.

“The two cars would line up, side by side,” Graham said. The passenger would be on the front seat. He would hold his arm out the open window and, when he dropped his arm, that was the signal to take off.”

Graham, laughingly, said the drag races were nothing like those in recent movies.

“There was no pretty girl to the drop the flag to start the race,” he said. “Just a country boy with his arm out the window.”

Graham said the drag racing cars would reach speeds up to 70 mph.

“Whoever won the race, would move up and race the next guy,” he said. “We would race until somebody won the race. There was no money in the pot, just braggin’ rights for the next week.”

Graham said drag racing was done on most all straight stretches of paved and dirt roads throughout the county.

“That was back before the bypass so it was really dangerous because the race took both lanes of the highway,” he said. “I don’t guess we thought about the danger. Drag racing was something fun for us to do.”

Graham said drag boat racing is fun to watch. The course is short and the speeds are fast.

The distance of the “track” is not quite the length of three football fields so it’s possible to see both the start and the finish.

“At the start, the boats jump up out of the water like a fish so there is an exciting start and an exciting finish,” Graham said.

Everyone is invited to Lake Simmie Saturday for a day of drag-boat racing fun. Bring umbrellas and lawn chairs.

Concessions will be available on site that include hamburgers, hotdogs and beverages.

A portion of the proceeds of the event will go to the Hamilton Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department to help fund an addition to the department’s fire station.

Lake Simmie is located off Highway 231 south of Brundidge. Turn onto Lake Simmie Road at the redtop horse barn.