A simple phone call was the catalyst to bring powerboat racing back to Lake Palourde.
Thibodaux powerboat racer Dustin Terry was hoping to hold a race locally instead of always traveling to Texas or other states for races.
When he called Morgan City Powerboat Association Commodore Marie Siracusa in February to inquire about it, she was in favor of the event, and it just so happened that the event would be held the same year the powerboat association celebrated its 50th anniversary. While the event is celebrating 50 years of racing, the first race actually took place on Lake Palourde on July 2, 1958.
Terry and Siracusa, as well as Sport Racing Series Race Director John Schubert, have worked to bring the Atchafalaya Eastern Divisionals “Waves of Thunder” to Lake Palourde July 6-8.
The event will feature strictly outboard boats in four classes, Formula 1, Super Stock, Tri-Hull and J-Hydro.
Siracusa said no inboards will be featured in the race because the race was put together at such a brisk pace and because there are no inboards in this area.
“This is a different kind of little racing,” Siracusa said. “It’s not different because it’s not unfamiliar to Morgan City but we haven’t had the outboards in quite a number of years, but I really feel that it was time for a change.”
She said she thought because outboards are mostly found in the South, that a better crowd will show up.
Schubert said the racers will be split among Southerners from Texas and Louisiana as well as others from places such as Florida, Missouri and Michigan.
The closest competitors will be Terry, who will race against his sister, Whitney Fletcher of Thibodaux, in the tri-hull competition. Craig Vizier of Galliano also is expected to race.
While in the past, three or four boats may have been racing at one time, Schubert said that 10 or 12 boats will be able to race at one time during this year’s event.
“The speeds are good,” he said. “It should be exciting for the spectators that are out there.”
Schubert said Sport Racing Series hasn’t participated in a Louisiana race in about 10 years and is excited to be back.
The competitors race on a circuit, which began the first week of May in Port Naches, Texas, and will end in late September in Orange, Texas. At each race, including the one in Morgan City, they compete for points towards the American Powerboat Association’s and Sport Racing Series’ championships. At the end of the season following the Orange, Texas, race, their points will be tabulated and they will be ranked accordingly.
There will be something for all ages at “Waves of Thunder,” too, as inflatables and other children’s activities will be onsite.
Also on Saturday, the band Flatline will perform from 7:30-9:30 p.m., while the City of Morgan City’s fireworks show, traditionally held on the Atchafalaya River, will be held at 9 p.m. near the Carillon Towers in conjunction with the festivities. All events will be set up along Lake End Parkway.
“(They will) be some reasons for going out there and staying out there rather than just simply showing up for the fireworks,” Morgan City Mayor Tim Matte said of the entertainment and the boat racing that will be held earlier in the day.
The mayor said the event also provides the city an opportunity to show off its facilities, both present and those being constructed, as well as the lake. In the future, he said he would like to see the lake used for multiple water sports.
“The lake is such a wonderful resource,” Matte said. “We underutilize it.”
Admission to the races will be $10 per person, while those ages 12 and under will be admitted free.
Ice chests will be allowed at a charge of $10 per chest.
Advance tickets, which are $8 a piece, are available at Flower Fashions and Sportsman Cycle and Marine in Morgan City, and It’s Entertainment in Houma
The last two times powerboat races were held in Morgan City — October 2009 and October 2011 — they were cancelled because weather conditions were unfavorable.
This year, though, because the race is being held in July and it will feature just outboards, which can better handle choppy waters, race organizers are optimistic the event will go on as scheduled.
“My whole point is to give the spectators and the sponsors that have supported us the last two times we have gotten blown out, they deserve a hell of a show,” Siracusa said. “Once we’ve been blown out, we’ve wasted so much money and there’s no way of getting it back and you can’t give back everybody’s money. But we can try and make up for it this year and give them a hell of a show.”
The event also will feature food and souvenir booths.
Sponsorships are still available for the event, too.
For $1,000, patrons will have their own tent, food for two days and 10 tickets, while for $750, $500 or $250, sponsors will have their name featured on a boat.
Program ads are still available, too, while a T-shirt, designed by Louie Dupuy, will be ready for sale next week. T-shirts are $15 and will be available at Flower Fashions along with hats and koozies.
The event also will feature the newly crowned Morgan City Powerboat Association’s queens, Miss Lake Palourde and Teen Miss Lake Palourde. These queens will be crowned Saturday.
For more information, contact Siracusa at 384-3820.