In Feb. 5 IssueCourtesy: lakecumberland.com
A major powerboat-racing event could be coming to Lake Cumberland just before the Memorial Day weekend.
With final approval from the lake's managers the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) possibly nearing, the lake's association of marinas appears about ready to announce the arrival of an Offshore Super Series (OSS) event in May.
Ron Polli, president of the Offshore Super Series Powerboat Racing Association announced on the major regional web site lakecumberland.com that the event seems very likely to take place on the weekend of May 15-17.
"Sometimes getting the permits for a first time event can be a challenge and frustrating," he stated, but noted that local officials and marina operators are working with the lake management to iron out the final approvals to allow the races. He expects it to be a major annual event, "hopefully for many years to come."
Bill Jasper, the president of State Dock in Russell County, said a number of influential persons have been involved in bringing the OSS series here. "We have met with the District Engineer, LTC Lindstrom, and he stated that they (USACE) support the event in concept. There is still some paperwork and formal approvals that are not complete. Everything that we have heard from the Corps has been positive and I believe we will have approval soon."
Jasper noted that some of the details to be finalized include a safety review and some other matters. After a previous attempt last summer to host an OSS race failed due to lack of time to get everything in order, Jasper noted the process was begun this time at the top with LTC Lindstrom. Jasper noted he appeared to be fully in favor of the event, which could bring national recognition that the lake has plenty of water to stage major events.
Jasper noted there is still a wide-ranging perception that the lowered level of the lake for work on seepage at Wolf Creek Dam has made the lake unusable. "We need this event and its news coverage," he stated, noting it should help get the word out that Lake Cumberland is still fully in operation and hardly affected by the lowered level.
In full support of the concept are the operators of the lake's marinas, as that association is heading up the local management of the race. Also communicating their support to the Corps are the lake's tourism offices and congressmen.
"This has been an effort of the Lake Cumberland Association which is made up of the marinas on Lake Cumberland and other tourism-related businesses and associations," said Jasper, noting that State Dock is not the sole sponsor. "Please support all of the marinas and tourism related businesses in the Lake Cumberland area."
He suggested that interested spectators should start making reservations early, even before the final approval and official announcement, to be sure they are served. "I don't think it is too soon to make arrangements," he notes. "I believe most would agree to refunds for boat rental deposits, etc., if we got a surprise and the permit was declined."
Anticipation of the event is already high, and the entertainment value high for those interested in serious powerboats. Polli, the OSS president, notes that 25 major pro boats follow the series from race to race. Some of these are turbine powered vessels that run up to 200 miles per hour over the water.
It's also a pro-am event. "We will offer all racing classes including the open cockpit Pro/Am classes," state Polli. "Anyone can race as long as the boat meets the safety requirements," he said, noting that he expects 10-20 'local' boats to be involved as well."
The organization's mission statement says: "The Pro Am Series is designed for the high performance boat owner to compete in professional offshore racing in a large variety of boat configurations. The competition rules would be based on the boat's top speed on perfect water conditions. This format is planned as a showcase for new racers and seasoned professionals to compete on an equal playing field."
The expected course would be a five-mile oval "as close to the dam as possible," said Polli. He noted that test runs would be set for Sat., May 16, with the race events planned for Sun., May 17.
Jasper, who noted a professional is expected to be hired to manage the local aspect of the event, explained that those wishing to see the event can watch from boats or from the shoreline off Halcomb's Landing, the major ramp beside Wolf Creek Dam that was renovated last year. The landing and ramp area will be the "pit" for the boat crews, and off-limits for parking. However, an admission to the "pit" area of probably $10 would be charged for those who want to talk with the crews and inspect the boats and operations.
Spectators coming by land vehicle could be parking on the downside of the dam and shuttled to the Landing area. From there the race would be visible from the overlook of the lake at Halcomb's Landing or by walking down to and along the lake's shoreline.
Polli advises those interested in participating: "Go to http://www.offshoresuperseries.com and on the front page, join the email list if you want all the updates. Then go to Racer Resources and download the Pro/Am rules."
He also notes that they will be using some "volunteer" boats as course maintenance and point markers. Those interested in offering should contact him.