In July 23 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
More boats, more displays, more turns and therefore a little less speed, but Ron Polli said the coming year's Lake Cumberland Grand Prix races on Lake Cumberland will be even better than this year.
Polli is the man behind Offshore Super Series racing, and now he is once again the man behind the Powerboat Racing Association.
The latter is a racing association he had started years ago, Polli explained, and now the merger of the two will bring even more racers to every event.
A course change was announced as part of the press conference Friday, and as expected the race will be at the Pulaski County end of the lake this coming year.
"This course is more like a LeMans," Polli said.
He explained that normally the ocean courses are pylons at each end and a long strait path between them.
At the Halcomb's Landing site used this year there were two long curving straightaways, next year's course contains 13 turns as the racers navigate a U-shaped bend in the lake.
Bill Jasper, president of State Dock, had pressed to bring the event to Lake Cumberland starting two years ago said the event next year would be a great one.
"On this end of the lake it is likely to draw even more attention," Jasper said after the announcement. "Setting up here at The Center will make Race Village a lot more visible than it was at Halcomb's Landing this year."
He expressed the opinion that the event's publicity would be good for all the marina owners and operators regardless of which end of the lake it is held on.
Organizers of next year's event say it will be visible from the Waitsboro Recreation Area near Burnside.
Next year the event is planned for June 4-6.
In addition to the pros, private boaters will get the chance to compete in Pro-Am bracket classes, where they can put their boats to the test on the official OSS race course.
There will also be an expanded amateur class in the coming year.
"It's 'run-whatcha-brung' racing on a level playing field with boats of similar speeds," Polli said. "All that's needed are helmets, life jackets, and the rest of the safety gear mandated by our rule book."
J.D. Hamilton, president of the Lake Cumberland Association - a sponsor of event, said the event exemplifies the hard work shown when individuals and groups across the Lake Cumberland area unite to support tourism and economic development centering around one of the largest manmade lakes in the nation.
"The Lake Cumberland Grand Prix is a good example of the type of event we can bring to the area when all the communities surrounding the lake work together," he said. "We believe the race will grow to become a substantial annual event that will drive a number of people to the lake to kick off the tourist season."
Carolyn Mounce, director of Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitor's Bureau, told the crowd gathered for the Friday morning press conference that more than 12,000 spectators viewed this year's Lake Cumberland Grand Prix from Halcomb's Landing at Wolf Creek Dam.
She said the event was an economic boost for the Lake Cumberland area, bringing in approximately $1.5 million to the local economy
"We do not have a count on the water spectators, but given that we had visitors from eight states and across Kentucky, we estimate the economic impact (to Lake Cumberland region) to be $1.5 million dollars," Mounce said.
She added that an exact schedule of activities has yet to be drawn up for the 2010 race, organizers are planning to pursue several events in conjunction with the race, including a public parade of race boats on opening day in Somerset, and live music and other fan-friendly events onsite at Race Village at The Center.
Polli explained that, as the official Race Village, The Center will serve as the event's base of operations. There, spectators will be able to get a closer look at the host of "fast boats" in town for the race and participate in meet-and-greet opportunities with the drivers and their support teams.
"At The Center, fans will be able to get autographs from their favorite drivers, pose for pictures with them, and check out various vendors and merchandise," Polli said.
Polli said he expects upwards of 30 drivers to compete in a series of Pro classes on Race Day-set for Sunday, June 6, 2010. Boats will be categorized into bracket classes based on speeds of 65, 75, 85, 95, and 105 miles per hour.