After weeks of planning and strategizing, the Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA) has set Oct. 2-3 for a speedboat race at the Lake of the Ozarks.
With the spread of Covid-19, OPA was forced to cancel most of its 2020 season, including races in Cocoa Beach, Lake of the Ozarks, Sarasota, St. Clair and Michigan City. The muscle behind the operation has been Mark Waddington (co-owner of Performance Boat Center), who has been working overtime to help get permits approved to organize scaled-down race at the lake (the original Lake Race having been originally scheduled for May 28-30).
Because of the relatively short notice, Waddington told Speedboat, the local water patrol enforced a limit on the number of boats that may participate. “I had to come up with a way to get people on the race course, and we felt like the cats would be the best way to go,” he says. “Another component was that we weren’t sure where we were going to get the money to support the race, and we thought we might have to ask some of the racers to to pay in order to make the race happen. And so it was decided that the Super Cat and Super Stock racers would have more resources to do that.”
Waddington huddled with the teams in those classes to ask about their interest level in helping to fund a race. “Ultimately, we’ve been able to get this thing done through some other customer sponsors and such that will help pay for it all,” he tells Speedboat. “They won’t have to pay any big fees like we thought they might have to.”
Each of the two classes will run in a pair of half-races on Friday, followed by a full race on Saturday. The result, he said, will be fun for both spectators and the racers, who haven’t gotten the opportunity to race at all this season so far. “That was the goal—to give them the ability to have as many races as we can make happen in two days,” Waddington says. “We’ve never had a two-day race at the lake before.”
At press time, eight Super Stock teams have committed to participating in the race, and three Super Cats teams committed, with a couple of maybes.
Time will tell if OPA will be able to pull off any additional race dates for 2020, but as of now, the group still has its Crystal Coast Grand Prix set for Sept. 11-13 in Morehead, NC, the Point Pleasant Beach Grand Prix for Sept. 25-27 in New Jersey, and its season-ending Englewood Beach Waterfest in Florida Nov. 19-22. In addition, OPA has already announced a 12-race season for 2021; details are available at oparacing.org.