Even before the trophies were handed out, and the money at the vending booths had been tallied, many folks at Pyne Road Park considered the first ever LaGrange Power Boat Grand Prix a success.
“It’s beautiful and awesome,” said powerboat racer, Danny Walls. “The people have been great. The crowd’s been one of the best we’ve had in a long time.”
Walls, and his son Jared, both competed in the Grand National Hydro (GNH) powerboat category. Danny Walls, whose been racing boats for 27 years, won his class. Jared, whose been competing for six years, unexpectedly had to drop out because of an oil leak. Both live in Louisville, Kentucky and said when they heard about the LaGrange race, they couldn’t pass it up.
” It sounded like a good time,” said Jared.
Husband and wife racing team, Don “Eli” Whitney and Cadi Reiss, drove down with boat in tow, all the way from Detriot, Michigan. They’ve placed either second or third in the National GNH class; and placed third in the first heat of the LaGrange Powerboat Grand Prix. They said the positive press from the American Powerboat Association (APBA) about LaGrange and West Point Lake piqued their interest. Both said they weren’t disappointed.
“I like Georgia. It’s very nice,” said Reiss. “It’s a very nice facility, the lake is beautiful. It’s clean, well organized, and a nice set up for us.”
Despite the rain on Saturday, the LaGrange -Troup County Chamber of Commerce estimated around 2,500 people headed out to West Point Lake to watch the races. The parking lots were near capacity again on Sunday.
Jon Livingston volunteered both Saturday and Sunday to work security in the pit area, where racers got ready for their heats, plus put their boats in the water and took them out. He enjoyed the event and said everyone else seemed too, as well.
“It’s been nice,” Livingston said. ” I’ve met a lot of people. It’s been good to talk to different people from around the country. And I’ve been learning a lot about boats.”
Livingston said if the powerboat races returned to LaGrange next year, he’d volunteer again.
He’s not the only one hoping the Powerboat Grand Prix makes another appearance on West Point Lake.
“We’ll both come back,” said Danny Walls.
“As long as they keep having us,” added Jared Walls.
“We’d like to come back,” said Whitney. ” I hope it works out. I hope the people and the community like it; the layout and the activities. And I hope it’s a success!”