The first ever drag boat races at East Park Reservoir were a hit this past weekend, drawing 29 boats and between 600 and 700 spectators on Saturday and Sunday.
Michael Azevedo, assistant director of Colusa County’s Public Works department, said that the turnout was about what was expected of the first-year event.
“We had a pretty compressed time frame between the Bureau of Reclamation approving the environmental document and the time we had scheduled for the event… We weren’t able to get the word out as much as we would have liked,” Azevedo said. “But for what it was and where it was, I think it was a good start. The feedback that I got from the boaters was that they will be back if we do it again. I’m definitely going to invite (the organizer) back.”
That sentiment was shared by Stonyford resident Frank Denney, who was at East Park Reservoir on Saturday and Sunday, as well as on Friday in advance of the races.
“I’d go back in a second,” Denney said. “…It was pretty exciting. Those boats were out there doing 160 to 170 mph, in a quarter mile.”
Even with those high speeds, Azevedo said that there were no “major incidents” at the two-day event, but they did have one delay to speak of on Sunday.
“We did have one boat sink,” Azevedo said. “It was a mechanical failure with the prop, and they broke a strut at the takeoff.”
The pilot of the boat was unharmed, and crews took about 45 minutes to get the boat out of the water.
“He sunk within 50 feet of us,” Denney said. “We were right on the bank and the action went right past us.”
Denny went to the races on Saturday and Sunday with a couple of friends, and he said they ended up connecting with the drivers and crews in the pits. A race enthusiast and gearhead himself, Denney said that he enjoyed being up close to the action and the pits.
“It was just a bunch of people hanging around and hunting for shade. All the guys we met out there are race guys, and we all had something to talk about,” Denney said. “The people in the pits were the owners and the drivers, and they were all very talkative and very friendly.”
Denney added that being around that crowd gave him some added motivation to finish his own speed boat – a project he had set aside for some time – and said he was thinking about racing if the event returned for a second year.
“I may… If I can get the engine tuned properly, I might take it out there,” Denney said. ■