MOTOR SPORTS: The sprint boats are back in town

PORT ANGELES — A year’s hiatus from sprint boat racing at Port Angeles’ Extreme Sports Park did little to dampen the enthusiasm drivers and navigators hold for the sport.

Sprint boat teams will zip through Extreme Sports Park’s water-filled channels in Saturday’s American Sprint Boat (ASB) Racing event, the first races at the park since September 10, 2016.

Ownership of the park was resolved this spring when Wicked Racing boat owners Dan and Kelie Morrison of Port Angeles purchased the property.

Now motor sports fans from around the North Olympic Peninsula can sit back and enjoy the show.

Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with races starting at 10 a.m. at the Extreme Sports Park, 2917 W. Edgewood Drive.

Three classes will compete: modified, which have engines of 350 cubic inches; 400s and unlimited.

Finals for each class will be held in the afternoon and the racing usually wraps before 5 p.m.

There will be food vendors, race team merchandise for sale and a beer garden on site as well.

Drivers and navigators travel through a “rotation,” or series of around 30 twists and turns around the track’s maze of island, reaching speeds well in excess of 90 mph.

“If you want more G-forces in a motorsport, buy an aircraft,” Morrison said. “It’s like a roller coaster with a throttle on steroids, only way more intense. The first time I raced I felt like my eyeballs vacated from the side left of my head.”

What makes sprint boat racing unique is drivers and navigators have just hours to memorize Saturday’s rotation and never get a chance to practice on the course. The pressure is on sprint boat teams, to qualify, and to win, from the opening second of Saturday’s races.

Saturday’s rotation will be released at the free Sprint Boat Show and Shine today from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lower Elwha Food and Fuel, along U.S. Highway 101 at 4773 S. Dry Creek Road.

Sprint boat teams will have their boats checked out to ensure they meet technical and safety requirements and fans are welcome to take pictures and talk racing with drivers and navigators as well as 92.9 KISM radio personalities Brad and John.

A turnout of around 20 boats are expected to compete across the three classes at Extreme Sports Park Saturday.

The boats never race together, as the course is too narrow for multiple boats.

Miss a turn and boats earn a Do Not Finish, placing each sprint boat team’s emphasis on first memorizing, and then communicating the track layout via a series of hand signals.

Crashes are common, some of them roll-over spectacles, but drivers and navigators typically walk away unharmed thanks to strong roll-bars and other safety features.

“We will have some fast boats,” Morrison said.

“Cory Johnson will be back and is tag teaming the 13-M boat, he’s always fast and he’s running a methanol burner. I think he’ll be one of our biggest competitors.

“Dustin Chase in the Flying Hawaiian, is another one. He put a methanol burner in his boat and he’s real quick with that motor.”

Saturday’s competition features a $5,000 purse spread across the three sprint boat classes. The race also serves as the first of a two-race series at Extreme Sports Park with teams accumulating points in a bid to bring home a share of a $10,000 purse.

Tickets are $25 for those age 16 years and older, $20 for seniors older than 55 and military members with ID, $15 for children ages 6-15, while children younger than 5 are free.

Camping also is available for $30 today through Sunday.

The ticket price includes parking.

Pit passes are now $5 and available only at the event.

Tickets can be bought at online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3453718, at the gate on race day or in Port Angeles at Sunset Hardware, Mobile Music, Lower Elwha Food and Fuel; in Beaver at the Lake Pleasant Grocery and in Sequim at Dog House Powder Coating.

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]

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