Roaring engines and blazing speeds will return to Lake Palourde in Morgan City this weekend when the Morgan City Powerboat Association hosts the Atchafalaya Eastern Divisionals’ “Waves of Thunder” at Lake Palourde.
While the actual racing will begin Saturday and Sunday after drivers’ meetings at noon each day, boats will be on the water as early as 9 a.m. as drivers test the race course.
Even earlier on Friday, the racers will be at the course testing their boats after they arrive in town.
“As the racers are coming in, the first thing they’re going to want to do is look at the race course,” Morgan City Powerboat Association Commodore Marie Siracusa said.
While $10 admission to the race grounds will be charged Saturday and Sunday (those ages 12 and under will be admitted free), no admission will be charged Friday for those who wish to watch the racers practice. Siracusa estimated the racers will begin arriving Friday for testing between noon and 1 p.m.
Racing grounds will open at 8 a.m., Friday through Sunday.
Drinks will be available for sale Friday and food and drinks will be onsite Saturday and Sunday.
This year’s racing will feature strictly outboard boats in four classes, Formula 1, Formula Lights, Tri-Hull and J-Hydro.
Racing is set to begin around 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the last race is set for 4 p.m., while on Sunday, the final race is scheduled for 5 p.m.
A complete schedule of events can be found on page 5 of today’s paper.
Advance tickets, which are $8 a piece, are available at Sportsman Cycle and Marine in Morgan City, and It’s Entertainment in Houma.
Ice chests will be allowed at the race site at a charge of $10 per chest.
Bringing racing back to Lake Palourde was spurred by a phone call from Thibodaux powerboat racer Dustin Terry to Siracusa in February to inquire about holding a race locally instead of traveling to Texas or other states.
Siracusa was in favor of the event, and it just so happens the event will be held the same year the powerboat association celebrates 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 this weekend’s event to fruition.
Siracusa said no inboards will be featured in the race because the race was put together at such a brisk pace and 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.
While in the past, three or four boats may have been racing at one time, Schubert said that 10 or 12 boats will 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 will 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 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 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.
“(There 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, Matte 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.”
The last two powerboat races that were held in Morgan City — October 2009 and October 2011 — 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, that 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 to make up for it this year and give them a hell of a show.”
In addition to racing, food and souvenir booths will be open at the race site.
The newly crowned Morgan City Powerboat Association queens, Miss Lake Palourde, Carlie Dupre and Teen Miss Lake Palourde, Olivia Thibodeaux, also will attend the event.