Chapter 10 - Preparing the Race
The sanction has been awarded to your community ...what now? The committee chairmen devote months of planning, arrangements and organization. The hundreds of volunteer workers are gathered together; the preparations become frantic as race day approaches. All the incidentals must be decided upon, each problem must be worked out, each item must be acquired and then ... suddenly, it's a week before the race.
A course is marked and surveyed, a barge is brought in and anchored, the cranes start arriving, the carpenters begin building, committee trailers are hauled in to serve as the headquarters for each operation, a program is printed, passes are handed out to the deserving and pit security is started. Finally, the area is ready and the time has come for testing and qualifications.
Usually, it is Wednesday when the course opens and the boats begin to arrive at the pits. A meeting is held before any of the action begins in which all the participants of the race are represented. The "contestant's meeting" brings forth all course rules and regulations pertaining to safety, driver's signals, course signals and qualifying procedures. A driver's representative is elected at this gathering who must know the pertinent information contained in the meeting in case a question arises later.
The referee then opens the course to testing, at the discretion of the Coast Guard if they are involved with the contest. It is during this period that boats may experiment with props, fuels, balance, etc., so the hydro will perform to its highest abilities. The testing is conducted through Wednesday and usually continues on Thursday, depending on the procedures set forth at the outset.
A "qualification ladder" is drawn which lists each contestant and the order in which he may make a qualifying attempt. To qualify, the boat must complete two or three laps, depending upon the contest regulations, at an average speed of at least 95 m.p.h. on a 2½-mile course or 100 m.p.h. on a Smile course. If, for some reason, the boat is unable to qualify it may make additional attempts until it does so. Prize money is sometimes awarded to the fastest qualifier per day and for the fastest for the entire week. Each boat that passes the safety inspection and qualifies will be eligible to compete in the race's first heat.
On Saturday afternoon, when the qualifying period has ended, a "driver's meeting" is held. Conducted by the referee, in conjunction with the race committee chairman, this meeting must be attended by the driver or an accredited representative. Failure to attend will mean the withdrawal of the absent driver's boat from the race. Safety procedures, rescue operations and course regulations will again be discussed in addition to a clarification of any other rules where a question may result or of which infractions have been discovered previously.
(Reprinted from Roostertails Unlimited by Andy Muntz, 1973)
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© Leslie Field, 2000