Drag Boat Races Rip Up Brazos River in Waco - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Drag Boat Races Rip Up Brazos River in Waco

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(KCEN) - It's perhaps the fastest competition on water: drag boat racing. It's like racing cars, without the safety of having brakes to slam on.      

A yearly ritual, has returned to Waco.

Barry Rowe, Jr., and his son, Barry III, have been coming here for years.

"At least 12 years," Barry Jr. said. "We love sitting by the water and relaxing , just another dimension to boat racing."

In fact, it's a major reason Barry III came to Baylor after growing up near Houston. Now he can't stay away.

"Wherever I'm at in the country," he said, "it seems like I can always find a weekend to come here for the boat races. "I live in Shreveport now, but I drove in for the weekend just for this."

So what keeps people coming back?

"Speed," one spectator tells me.

Probably a dumb question.

"It's like hard drugs," said announcer Roger Monroe. "Once you do it, you're hooked."

Monroe has been the official voice of Southern Drag Boat Association races for nearly three and a half decades.

"I've been coming to Waco for 25 years," he said. "It's very spectator-friendly, every seat in the house is good."

Some of the boats will go as fast as about 170 miles an hour. They'll do a quart-mile track in about seven seconds.

"They've ran over 180," Monroe said, "but I don't know that the conditions are exactly there for it today."

And you're right there watching.

"This is a little but closer than most races," said Rick McCommon, who came down from Lake Texoma. "Some of them you sit back a little bit farther away."

So you might want to bring some ear plugs.

"It's just a wonderful sport," Barry Jr. said.

Just don't blink. You might miss it.

Kevin Conklin has been racing drag boats since 1996.

"Went to Marble Falls and I watched a bass boat race," he said. "And I thought, well, if a bass boat can do it, anybody could do it."

He and about a hundred other racers bring fans to the banks of the Brazos every year.

And for those drivers -- and the fans -- the weekend of races means more than just going fast.

"The camaraderie between the teams and the spectators and just knowing everybody," Barry Jr. said.

It can be a dangerous sport -- "You have to hold on," Conklin said -- but it's one these drivers can't resist.

"Everybody helps everybody," said Conklin. "And, plus, the rush of going down the quarter-mile."

It's even a rush just sitting on the sidelines.

The boat races continue Sunday with the finals. You can watch at Brazos Park East. Tickets are $20.
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