GULF COAST (WALA) – Thunder on the Gulf is finishing its first day along the Gulf Coast.
Friday’s races were in Orange Beach. Saturday’s takes place in Pensacola.
Organizers said the event attracts plenty of visitors and also takes plenty of preparation.
This is the 11th year for Thunder on the Gulf, and organizers said crowds have increased every year.
Don Branum, director of safety for Thunder on the Gulf, said, “We have people from out of town. I met people the last couple of days from up in Kentucky. They come straight for the race: people from Louisiana last night at the concert that are over here for the race, Mississippi. So, we draw people from all over.”
GETTING READY FOR THE RACES
Preparations began long before the contest itself started. Drivers get physicals in the morning before cranes lower their boats in the water.
Scott Colton is part of the management team for the Miss Geico crew, one of the teams in this weekend’s races.
He said the two races in Orange Beach Friday were are not only good for fans, they were good for the teams.
Colton said, “If your boat happens to have some issues in the first leg of the race, you can come back and still be in the points in the second leg of the race. So, it’s a unique opportunity for people, if they’re sitting on the beach, to catch two races at one time.”
Marc Granet is the driver of the Miss Geico boat and is used to navigating choppy water at high speeds.
Granet said, “You’ll see lap speeds from various boats from 96 mph to 120 mph lap speed.”
Have you ever wondered what goes through the mind of drivers when they’re moving at those speeds?
Granet said, “While the race may only be an hour long, it’s an hour of absolute focus, absolute work. It’s extremely hot. Races like this, especially in the summertime like this, you’re going to see cockpit temperatures in excess of 120 degrees, so, you’ve got to hydrate yourself. You’ve got to count laps. You’re doing all sorts of things at once.”
If their work pays off in victories, they may race in the world championships in November.