Rural Missouri - August 2012 - (Page 18)

Wheatland is home to the world’s only racetrack built just for drag boats turns green, and your run is disqualified. Drag boats 101 “It’s not necessarily a head start, but it’s a rolling The Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series is a national start,” says Jarrett Silvey, driver of the Speed Sports touring series that features four professional classes Special Top Fuel Hydro boat based out of Bridgeton. that differ by the style of the boat and the type of hen it comes to racing — whether “I’ve talked to asphalt racers, and they’ve said there engine. Like other dragsters, races originally went to you’re a fan or a driver — you have is no way they could cut a light on what we do.” the traditional quarter-mile distance. However, due a favorite track. For some, it’s the Further complicating the start is the fact that, to safety concerns, the race distance was shortened history and mystique of Indianapounlike cars that sit completely still, drag boats are to 1,000 feet to reduce top-end speeds for all but the lis Motor Speedway. For others, it’s the speed and free floating at the start and subject to the elements. Pro Modified class, which still races to 1,320 feet. finesse of drafting at Daytona International SpeedDrivers position themselves on a holding rope, but In addition to the pro series, Lucas Oil works way. Quite often, your favorite is the local dirt track once they let go, they’re at the mercy of Mother Nawith other groups, such as the St. Louis Drag Boat where you saw your first race or earned ture. A slight crosswind could take a boat off course. Association, to highlight sportsman classes feayour first checkered flag. “This boat goes where it is aimed. It doesn’t make turing local and regional drivers. These classes In the world of professional drag a difference how much steering wheel you put in are indexed, meaning that boats attempt boat racing, however, there is one it,” Jarrett says. “If you are off 10 degrees down the to complete the quarter mile in a specific venue that rises above the rest and that track, it’s time to pull the parachutes because you amount of time without “breaking out,” or fans and drivers equally rave about — Lake Wheatland • are going to be in a place you don’t want to be.” going faster than the time limit. Lucas in Wheatland. On a typical race weekend, teams will spend A drag race on water starts a little Opened in 2011 as part of the Lucas Friday testing and tuning their machines. Qualifydifferently than on wheels. Instead of Oil Speedway Motorsports Complex, the ing occurs on Saturday, setting the brackets for the racing from a dead stop on the starting roughly 37-acre lake is the world’s only elimination rounds on Sunday when the event line, drag boats begin 125 feet behind facility built specifically for drag boat racing. champions are crowned. the line. When a red light begins flashing on the Measuring 4,000 feet long, 400 feet wide and 8 feet tree, that’s the driver’s signal to start the boat’s endeep, Lake Lucas is designed to provide the safest Built for racing gine and get ready. A countdown then commences and most consistent racing surface possible while Drag boat racing typically occurs on lakes and rivfrom nine to one, and drivers must “pick their numoffering an unequalled fan experience. ers that are public waterways. This sometimes can ber,” the time when they hit the throttle. The goal “Right now, we have races in California, Texas make the racing conditions unpredictable, as nearby is to cross the start line as close as possible to when and all over the country,” says Forrest Lucas, foundpleasure boats can send waves into the course area. the green light comes on at zero. Go before the light er of Lucas Oil and owner of the motorsports comWhen Lucas Oil built Lake Lucas, the plex, which also includes a 3/8-mile, goal was to increase safety while imsemi-banked clay oval dirt track opened proving the show for fans. in 2006. “After we raced here last year, Construction of the lake required the the teams didn’t want to go anywhere removal of 1.5 million cubic yards of else. They just wanted to leave their dirt. The area around the water is built boats here and race every two weeks.” up and provides protection from the Like their brethren who compete on wind. The sides of the lake were dug asphalt and concrete, drag boat drivers in a stair-step pattern and lined with strap themselves into machines that riprap. This design ensures that when produce earth-shaking power. When waves hit the shore, they are absorbed they light the fuse and mash on the and don’t bounce back onto the racing gas, as much as 8,000 horsepower prosurface. Not only does this make the pels some boats down the liquid raceracing safer and more predictable, but it track in less than 4 seconds at speeds also cuts the down time between runs. reaching 250 mph. “Here, you feel at ease that there “It is amazing,” says Jim Hymes of will be no surprise water,” says Dave Linn Creek. “You can feel it all over Schmidt from Smithton, Ill., who comyour body. It just vibrates off of you, petes in the Pro Eliminator class. “You and you can really feel the power and might get a small amount of chop, but the force of it.” you know what to expect.” The Laclede Electric Cooperative On the south side of the lake, two member attended the Wheatland races in June with his son, Walker. “When Chaplains Craig Garland of Ennis, Texas, center, and Mike Griffith of Tulsa, Okla., pray shielded cutouts provide areas to stage safety boats, providing increased prothey start up, you feel it; you don’t hear with Top Fuel Hydro driver Jarrett Silvey and his son, Dillon, before his drag boat is tection for emergency workers who can it, you feel it,” Walker says. “It’s like unloaded for a run at Lake Lucas in June. Garland is with Racers for Christ, an organistill respond quickly in the event of a nothing you’ve ever seen.” zation that provides for the emotional and spiritual needs of those in motorsports. W by Jason Jenkins jjenkins@ruralmissouri.coop 18 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2012

Rural Missouri - August 2012
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Exploring yesterday today
Forget 10,000 casts
A hundred years on the hunt
H2O & Go
Hearth and Home
Out of the Way Eats
Bloody August
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Locomotives in the landscape
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - August 2012

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