FULL THROTTLE: Drag boat race brings thrills to Lake Simmie

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Fisher and Slade Jones of Ozark stood in a drizzling rain to cheer on their favorite drag boat in the Southern Outlaw Drag Boat race. Even though they are fans of the sport, the youngsters agreed they would rather watch than race.

And, perhaps most of the adults that lined the shore of Lake Simmie near Brundidge Saturday would agree that drag boat racing is not for the faint of heart.

When the drivers hit the throttle and the boats launch, a wall of water shoots up in the air and the boats are airborne for a few seconds before they land to finish the race at speeds between 80 and 100 mph., depending on the class.

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The Jones brothers applauded all the racers with an extra “hoorah” for 15-year-old Lake Jackson, a formula 2 competitor who took the checkered flag.

Jason Jones is a fan of drag boat racing and enjoys attending with his young sons. The roar of the motors, the hard launches and the speed of the boats makes drag boat racing an exciting sport to watch, he said.

Jay Jackson, Southern Outlaw Drag Boat Association (SODA) race organizer, said the rain and threat of rain on Saturday, probably kept some folks home but he was pleased with the number of boats entered in the race.

“Even with the rain, we had a good crowd and an enthusiastic crowd,” Jackson said. “We had eight classes and 27 boats and 37 entries. The races were competitive. Lake Simmie is a great lake for drag boat racing.”

Jackson said the spectator visibility is good from start to finish. However, some fans of the sport prefer to be near the launch site while others like to see the boats speed across the finish line.

Saturday’s race was the second Jackson has hosted at Lake Simmie and he said the foundation has been laid for what could become a huge event for Pike County.

“Drag boat racing is exciting and one that people of all ages can enjoy,” Jackson said. “Rayvon Graham, the lake owner, is supportive of the race and is agreeable for us to have other drag boat races a Lake Simmie. Right now, I’m thinking about moving the race to April. That’s the time of year when competitors are ready to get their boats in the water. The weather is warm and people are anxious to get outside so April would be a good time for drag boat racing.”

Jackson said his hopes are that a promoter and/or sponsor would come on board.

“That would really help kick this water sport off in this area of the state,” he said. “Drag boat races are also held on rivers. A race on the Chattahoochee River attracted around 3,000 people.”

Jackson said he is looking forward to the growth of drag boat racing in Southeast Alabama and to Lake Simmie being a part of that growth. The next drag boat race in the nearby area will be on September 7 at Lake Jackson in Florala.