In April 23 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
All is finally set for the first ever Offshore Super Series Powerboat Racing Association event on Lake Cumberland, according to event director Hilda Legg. The high powered boat race is set to take place next month and bring in as many as 30,000 people to the region, officials say.
"We are moving with our plans at a rapid pace," Legg said. "We've been receiving a lot of interest, some from folks as far away as Oklahoma."
The Lake Cumberland Grand Prix will take center stage in three short weeks, May 15-17, at Halcomb's Landing, the major ramp beside Wolf Creek Dam that was renovated last year. This is the weekend before Memorial Day weekend.
State officials gave the go-ahead for the event late last week.
"This will be a great opportunity to showcase Lake Cumberland," Gov. Steve Beshear said. "We hope this becomes an annual event and will tell the country what a great asset we have in Lake Cumberland."
The Russell County and Pulaski County Fiscal Courts have recently donated $5,000 each toward the event while the Wayne County Fiscal Court has contributed $2,500.
"I have been overwhelmed with the response and support by our local governments and tourism organizations," Legg said. "They have given of their finances, time, staff to make this a united, regional venture.
"All of our marinas and host partners have been so helpful," she said. "It is shaping up to be a fantastic event."
While it is difficult to pinpoint an exact number of how many people the event will draw in, Legg said it was safe to say that between 2,000 and 4,000 land visitors will be present while as many as 20,000 or more is expected to be watching from the water.
"It is a large volunteer effort," Legg said of the event. "We are in need of as many volunteers as we can get."
Legg said a volunteer form is available at the event's Web site, www.lakecumberlandgrandprix.com, and anyone wanting to donate their time to the large event is encouraged to fill out the form.
She also said vendors and sponsors are needed for the Race Village at Halcomb's Landing.
"We would like to talk with any food or item vendors," she said. "Sponsorship opportunities, such as large hanging banners, and packages are available.
"Our ultimate goal is economic development," Legg said. Legg pointed out three key points as instrumental to the event's success.
First, she said, is the weekend itself. The weekend before Memorial Day weekend is usually a much less traveled weekend than the following weekend. The event would help jumpstart the 2009 boating season a week earlier in hopes of boosting economic impact in the region.
Second, according to Legg, was that all the event's marketing and coverage should send a "Loud and clear" message to tourists that there is more than enough water in the lowered lake to recreate as well as show that the lake is big enough to handle offshore boating events like this.
Lastly, if the event and race is a success, to have this event return next year and in the future to help begin the summer season with a big economic impact.
The event will last all weekend with parties, local entertainment as well as autograph sessions with the powerboat drivers, culminating in the best in offshore racing with more than 30 boats racing at speeds approaching 200 miles per hour, according to promoters.
The Offshore Super Series boat race will also feature helicopters soaring overhead carrying camera crews and rescue teams.
The six-mile course will feature seven turns, according to event coordinators. The qualifying runs will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 16 with racing continuing that afternoon, including heat races and a pro-am race for locals who think they have what it takes to compete, organizers said. Several classes race on Sunday, beginning at 11:30 a.m., with a concluding awards ceremony and trophy presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Racing teams and their boats will begin arriving at Halcomb's on Thursday, May 14. Race Village will come alive on Friday as teams prepare to test their skill on the race course, according to organizers.
On Saturday, there will be test runs, heat races and two class races with the aforementioned final races on Sunday.
Halcomb's Landing near the Wolf Creek Dam, just south of Jamestown, will be the headquarters for the event and will, along with the shoreline, provide great views of the races, which will be covered by Fox Sports Network, ESPN 2, Extreme Boats Magazine, Powerboat Magazine and local media outlets.
With an admission ticket to Race Village, spectators can see the boats up close and meet the drivers, their throttle men and teams. They can ask for an autograph, have their kids sit in the boats and pose for pictures and check out various vendors and merchandise. Attendees will also want to watch as these 13,000 pound crafts are loaded into the water with 100-ton cranes, according to event coordinators.
Race Village will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Autograph sessions will be held at the Village when the boats are not racing.
Tickets to the Village are $10 a day for adults and $5 a day for children ages 7-12. Children under 7 are free.
This OSS event is supported by the Kentucky Sports Authority, an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.
Back in February, Ron Polli, president of the Offshore Super Series Powerboat Racing Association first announced the race on the major regional Web site lakecumberland.com that the event seemed likely to take place on its scheduled weekend.
For lodging locations in the area, check with local marinas to rent a houseboat, or rent a cottage or lodge room. For more information, visit http://www.lakecumberlandgrandprix.com For sponsorships or vending opportunities, call Hilda Legg at 606-383-0122.