Over the past dozen years, Smokin the Sound has made a name for itself as a premier Offshore Racing venue that rivals the closeness of Key West harbor racing. Biloxi has also hosted all of theorganizations. APBA was there back in the early 90s, OSS called this their home turf for a number of years, SBI hosted the teams last year and for 2014, OPA has been chosen to produce the racing portion of Smokin the Sound.
This event has grown from a simple one day boat race, into a two week speed extravaganza. The first week includes High Speed runs,calculated by radar, a Poker Run, and OPA Racing on both Saturday and Sunday. The following weekend brings drag boats to a local lake for one a second weekend of racing excitement.
These folks along the Redneck Riviera know their racing and come out year after year to hear the roar of the engines as the boats scream just a few years off the bulkhead along Casino Row.
Eight years after Katrina tore up the Gulf Coast, Biloxi has rebuilt better than ever, with glitz and glamour to put Atlantic City to shame and rival portions of Las Vegas. But Biloxi has what can’t be bought or built, true Southern Charm. Turquoise waters of the Gulf, moss covered trees that line the streets, and sweet southern belles offering a drawl that was made to melt hearts, welcome to Biloxi Mississippi. Oh and there’s gambling and shows too.
Guys like Woody Bailey, Asher Travis and Rusty Davis are what make this sport tick. They love it with all their soul and work tirelessly to produce this annual event. Without Woody, Asher and Rusty and their troop of volunteers keeping the momentum going, there wouldn’t be these sorts of events in this section of the world…so say thanks if you have a chance.
The event went off without a hitch, with a few high lights along the way. The Gone Again Skater ran a blistering 181mph through the radar trap on Friday afternoon. The boat looked amazing and stable,as it tore up the Sound. One of the other highlights was the outcome of the “Run what ya brung, and hope you brung enough” Class. This single class carried a prize purse of $40,000 and paid down through five places. OPA has never offered this sort of class before, so it was interesting to say the least. Of course the big dogs where the favorites. Cat Can Do and Miss Geico can easily reach speeds in the 170s, possibly beyond, so they were the obvious fan favorites. The races were held both Saturday and Sunday, with the each racing being five laps over the seven mile course. Seven boats entered the race. The two big dogs, two vee lites, two Stock Outboard Cats and a 34’ Vee with a pair of 500s rounded out the seven boats that entered this class.
The Saturday start went off as expected. Miss Geico and Cat Can Do took off quick and soon lapped the field of smaller boats…but then attrition started. Cat Can Do smoked a motor while singing at full tilt in ceremonious fashion with a huge cloud of blue smoke emitting from the engine bay. Then it was Geico’s turn to go down. Scotty Begovich later reported “We used our biggest set of props and saw speeds in the high 170s. We never had this hull that fast before and the water pressure became too great for our setup. We blew both water intake hoses off one of the engines. We had to run the last two laps on one engine and almost sank the boat.” Miss Geico still came in first, but not by much over a pair of boats with Outboards.
One Sunday, Cat Can Do was on the trailer and the Geico team was ready to redeem themselves with a big win. The race started withGeico lagging at the start. They were in second at the end of the first lap, and heading to the crane with the bilge full of water again before the second lap started. From there it was the little Doug Wright that could, called SOS Venezuela that took first place and the $18,000 that came with it.
The other highlight of the day was the presentation of the Annual Randy Linebach Lighthouse Award. Randy died in a racing accident in Biloxi in 2004 and this award, presented to the racer that other racers admire most, went to David Denham of Pirate Racing. David was completely overwhelmed by the honor and said he will covet this trophy most.