Unlimited hydroplane racing will
make a return to the Mid-South with the June 20-21 Lakeland International
Outboard championships at Lakeland.
More than 30 drivers from the
United States and Canada have already entered the event.
Memphian Marshall Grant, a member
of Johnny Cash’s Tennessee Three, and Lewis Garner, Lakeland president,
are sponsoring the races.
The last attempt to stage
hydroplane racing at Lakeland ended in disappointment several years ago when
two days of rain hampered both attendance and competition.
Among the drivers already entered
are seven who owned world titles at one time or another. They are Billy
Seebold Jr. of St. Louis; Jerry Simison of Minneapolis; the Baldwin Racing
team of Alice, Texas; Ralph Donald of Atlanta; Jim Shook of Quincy, Ill.;
Armor Adair of Montreal, Canada and Jerry Waldman of Milwaukee. Waldman
drives for a major sparkplug team, which is expected to bring seven boats to
Grant is also expecting a number of
foreign entries, possibly Dieter Konig, the German manufacturer who produces
the motors for Grant’s boats – Ring of Fire and Miss Folsom.
The course is a tight mile or mile
and a quarter.
Outboard racing has its problems.
One is expenses. The American Power Boat Association estimates it cost
$60,000 to campaign a boat for a year, with some owners paying closer to
$100,000. this does not include initial purchase of the boat or equipment.
The costs make breaking even on prize money alone out of the question and
sponsorship therefore becomes a potential headache.
Last year was one of the skimpiest
schedules ever with just seven race dates. Eight cities, including Memphis,
signed for races this year and two others are reportedly still negotiating.