Speed Boat Races Throttle Up at Marine Stadium

Patch editor Nancy Wride gets taken for a 115 m.p.h. race boat ride Aug. 2, 2013 in Marine Stadium. Aug. 2, 2013. Credit: Mark Mclaughlin.
Patch editor Nancy Wride gets taken for a 115 m.p.h. race boat ride Aug. 2, 2013 in Marine Stadium. Aug. 2, 2013. Credit: Mark Mclaughlin.
You will hear them before you see them, and we suggest bringing ear plugs with your binoculars this weekend, when the magnificently loud and fast power boats roar into Marine Stadium for a weekend full of racing.

The last marine racing stadium in the U.S., Long Beach's Marine Stadium was carved out by one of Long Beach's first families, the Bixbys, for the 1932 Olympics, according to Ross Wallach, race director of the Sprint Nationals. In fact, the Bixby family still technically owns Marine Stadium, though it is under the city's domain.

Being dedicated Patch staffers, we felt compelled to test-ride the high-speed race boats to make sure they're really fast and will dazzle spectators all weekend at the Sprint Oil Nationals. They are, and they will. 

Having sported protective helmets and life jackets and been shoehorned into glove-like seats, we traveled at more than 100 m.p.h. - 50 on the turns - in view of Belmont Park during warm-ups Friday at Marine Stadium. 

Watching the high-performance boats airborne on the last marine stadium in the U.S. makes for a thrilling show and as many as 10,000 people are expected over both days of racing. And as a spectator, nobody gets splashed with motor oil, face plants in their helmet or loses their lunch.

The Lucas Oil Sprint Nationals features "circle boats" in a series of races at Marine Stadium. The event features 19 classes of the fastest flat bottom, V-Bottom, Jet Boats and PWC from around the country, competing for titles and prize money.
"Marine Stadium used to be just that - grandstands put out for these kind of boat races," said Kevin Wilkerson of the city's summer-long Sea Festival. "In fact, Long Beach was, for a time, the powerboat racing capital of the world." 

Givers that we are, Patch staff editors John Schreiber and Nancy Wride zipped about in separate boats Friday, and the force against one of our mounted video cameras could not withstand this editor's ride. Our drivers, who will be racing this weekend, said our speeds topped out at 115 m.p.h. Saturday and Sunday the boats will top 150 m.p.h.

There will be food vendors, a beer garden and merchandise for sale. The event runs Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost is $15. Read more about other Sea Festival event at Kevin Wilkerson's blog.

Look for more boat racing video soon.


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