BRYAN, Texas — Many call it "the fastest sport on water," where white-knuckle racers drive alcohol-fueled boats with huge engines and reach blistering speeds of over 200 mph almost in a blink of the eye. Drag boat racing is back in the Brazos Valley.
Eighty boats are set to race this weekend for the Southern Drag Boat Association's Season Opener. David Carroll, the association's series director, said the high-octane event attracts all types.
"You're going to get your adrenaline junkies and stuff like that," Carroll said. "It's one of the deals that a lot of people want to do it. We actually race five times in Texas this year, so we're putting out there a little more. Of course, it was hard on everyone last year. I look for a big weekend this year, I really do."
Carroll said this is the first time in 14 years there has been a drag boat race on Lake Bryan, but this weekend's competition starts Friday and ends with a final round on Sunday.
Racers battle it out on a 1,000-foot course in a test of speed divided into different classes, based on things like engine size, fuel and boat design. Top Fuel Hydro (TFH) boats need only 875 feet to reach dizzying speeds of over 260 mph.
"You're going to have to like drag racing," Carroll said. "You multiply it a little bit more. If you've been in a boat, you think you're going fast at 30 (mph). Speed's faster when you're on a boat or a jet ski."
Carroll said he's been interested in drag boat racing since childhood, but now that interest is a family venture.
"My dad used to take me to Waco and Lake Austin and watch the races there," Carroll said. "My daughter races a pro mod, which is a 560 boat, 5.6 seconds at 1,000 feet. It's a 160 mph boat. My grandson's going to be here this weekend riding a jet ski – we're three generations at Lake Bryan."
Lake Bryan offers the right environment for drag boat racing, according to Carroll. He said the lake's depth, ramps and spectator areas all factor into their decision to hold the season opener in the Brazos Valley.
The three-day event is open to the public with races happening from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spectators should come prepared with lawn chairs, drinks and binoculars to watch the action.
Tickets start at $10 for Friday's opening day, then $15 for Saturday and $20 for Sunday's finals – with free admission for children under 12 years old. There's a weekend pass available for $30.
The series also has events happening in Paris, San Angelo, Waco, Marble Falls this summer. Check out Bangshift.com to watch a live stream of the Lake Bryan event.
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