After a two-year absence, high-speed boat racing made a dynamic return to Onondaga Lake this past weekend.
Race on the Lake, an American Canadian Hydroplane Association-sanctioned event, featured some 60 inboard/drivers and 15 vintage hydroplane boats from throughout the United States and Canada. The inboards’ top speeds reached 200 miles per hour, while the vintage boats, which were also on display for spectators, topped out at 150 miles per hour.
“Hydroplane boats actually hydroplane across the water,” said Maureen Doyle, the race’s media coordinator. “Fans actually call it ‘NASCAR on the water.’”
Like NASCAR, the racers operate on a circuit; the Syracuse race is just part of that circuit. The first race took place June 2 and 3 in Long Sault, ON. After this weekend’s race on Onondaga Lake, hydroplane racers will head onto Brockville, ON for races on June 30 and July 1; then from July 13 to 15, they’ll be in Valleyfield, Quebec; from July 21 to 22, in St. Felicien, Quebec; from Aug. 18 to 19, in Tonowanda near Buffalo; from Sept. 1 to 2 in Webster, Mass.; and from Sept. 8 to 9, in Beauharnois, Quebec.
The Syracuse stop is expected to be annual, Doyle said; Onondaga Lake is ideally suited for hydroplane racing.
“They love Onondaga Lake,” she said. “It’s very flat and fairly calm. There’s not a lot of activity like on Lake Ontario, and Lake Ontario is so big. Then you have Oneida Lake, where the wind direction is wrong. Onondaga Lake is flat and calm. They love it here.”
That said, windy conditions did force the cancellation of some races Sunday afternoon, but the weather was perfect on Saturday. Saturday did feature the bulk of the offshore entertainment, as well. In addition to the races, event organizers also provided a boat show, shopping, an outdoor toy show, crafters and more for spectators to patronize. Nic Lite, a scaled-down version of Nic and the Nice Guys, performed, as did Gridley Page.
“Any member of the family can find something,” Doyle said. “It’s for Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad, the kids — we’ve got something for everyone.”
For more information, including race results, visit raceonthelake.com.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.