Stock Outboard Races

After the most successful National Races in July 2017, the "Wet & Wild Regatta" returns on July 7 & 8, 2018, with the "Wild One's Regatta" returns on September 8 & 9, 2018.

StockOutboardBoatRace2012There is one event where “Activity Central” is not centered on Downtown Grass Lake, however, it’s not far removed. When the Michigan Hydroplane Racing Association (MHRA) brings its family to town, they stage their running of the Stock Outboard Racing events on the Lake at Grass Lake County Park. In both the “Wild Ones Regatta” and the “National Stock Outboard” racing events the MHRA will spend at least 2 days in the area, and in the case of the “Nationals”; a whole week. While those events may take place on the Lake, the after racing is over events typically end up on the street downtown. Whether it’s a street dance and party after the weekend, or the Traffic Jam’in at the end of the Nationals, the MHRA is welcomed downtown in each case to relax and enjoy the “hometown” feeling.

For 24 years the MHRA has brought its annual power boat races to Grass Lake to tally up points in the race for the association’s annual driver of the year trophy. One of the many races sponsored by the association each year, the Grass Lake race, dubbed the “Wild Ones Regatta” has grown every year with new races, new drivers, expanded sanctioning, and boat racers from across the Midwest and Canada.

Grass Lake Nats 2009 PitsFor its 25th year the MHRA continued a tradition, and a celebration of sorts, with the hosting of the 2009 National Stock Outboard Races, which were expected to bring more than 200 power boat racers from across the country to compete for that coveted 1US title. The first time the Nationals had been run in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, it was a weeklong event in Grass Lake featuring various activities throughout the week highlighting the taste of Grass Lake and the outdoor sportsman’s range of activities from golf, to fishing, boats, skeet shoots and so on, the community sought to spotlight Grass Lake as a continued site of excellence for the MHRA into the future as well as a perfect site for the Nationals, probably not every year, but for several years into the future.

Stock outboard racing emerged in the United States in 1924, and by 1948, stock outboard regattas were being staged under the sanctioning body of the American Power Boat Association. Because of its competitive nature, stock outboard racing grew considerably through the 1950’s and came back to Grass Lake again as the site for the 2009 Nationals, providing for the biggest “Wild Ones Regatta” ever on Grass Lake. Starting with qualifying races on July 27, the event was staged across 6 days to the championship races on Saturday, August 1, with Sunday, August 2, held out as a possible rain-out make-up day.

BSH Nationals 2009 R Warnock T SutherlandAlong with the normal stock outboard races, this Nationals event included the Junior Nationals, for the youngest race drivers on the scene, along with the Superlight Tunnel (SLT) Boat Nationals, an up-and-coming category with an emphasis on FUN, says the APBA. Originally from South Africa, superlights are an inflatable boat with a powerful engine that puts two people in the race on a smooth course or rough seas, it’s a special category to watch as the co-drivers steer the craft with wheel and weight to gain the upper edge. Superlights will compete in both the standard circle course races and the marathon races that get even crazier.

The “Wild Ones Regatta”, an annual event in Grass Lake, the races here began in 1984 as Grass Lake’s ideal conditions replaced an event in Ohio and continues strong through this year. Sanctioned by both the American Power Boat Association and the Canadian Boating Federation, the races on Grass Lake continue to grow in size and popularity with racers as the sanctioning increases participation. The proximity of Grass Lake County Park to the lake provides for an easy access to the lake from a wide expanse of shoreline and shallow water for the initial setup and start of the boats. 

CSH Nationals 2009In the Grass Lake races the highlighted feature is the Marathon charges across the lake. One of the few left in the country, the Marathon is a grueling 20 minute run across the lake with a right turn twist to the challenge the skills of the drivers familiar with only left turn courses, the Marathon poses some interesting bumping on the right turn. Sponsored by the Village of Grass Lake Downtown Development Authority, a wide and varied assortment of racing styles were evident during the week, from 50 mph. to 75 mph. 

This year will feature two races on Grass Lake. The first race on July 10 & 11 will bring racers across the Midwest from Michigan and Minnesota, to Texas and Louisiana to compete in Midwest Divisional Championships. Divisional winners then advance to Oroville, California for the Nationals this year and will already be pre-qualified for the national championship races. If you miss this event, then check out the “Wild Ones Regatta” on September 11 & 12.

Click here for more information on the races

* Photos by Rich Hays, H & H Rescue & The Grass Lake Times

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