View Full Version : Ozarka Bricktown Nationals Drag Racing

07-08-2005, 12:34 PM
If you get a chance this weekend, head down to the Oklahoma River, and check out the first year of this event.

"Drag boat races hit OK river

By Aidan Tait
The Oklahoman

The flood of interest surrounding motor sports is spilling from the race track to the river.

With NASCAR as popular as ever, people are interested in high speeds and loud noises.

This weekend, they'll get both as part of the Ozarka Bricktown Nationals drag boat races on the Oklahoma River.

Drag boat racing has been around for more than 40 years, with rural parts of Oklahoma hosting annual competitions. Drivers came to Oklahoma with fast boats and deafening engines, but they left quietly and went on to the next venue.

But the growth of the motor sports industry, made evident with the explosion in NASCAR over the last decade, has put races of all kinds in bigger venues -- landing Oklahoma City in the thick of it. Bricktown Water Sports will host the Bricktown Nationals starting today and running through Sunday.

It's the largest motor sports event ever in downtown Oklahoma City. The competition on the Oklahoma River will bring in 150 to 200 of the best drag boat racing teams in the United States and Canada.

"Motor sports is the largest spectator sport in the world," said Glenn Brown, president of Bricktown Water Sports. "NASCAR is taking over. People want to hear the noise, and people want to see the speed."

The boats offer plenty of both, with some exceeding 200 miles per hour in under three seconds. And though land motor sports have seized the American consciousness in a way water sports have yet to achieve, water sports continue to grow in popularity and participation.

Motor sports require very little of their spectators, and that's one reason they keep reeling people in. Brown expects the Bricktown Nationals to be one of the premier family entertainment events of the summer -- anybody, he insists, can enjoy the action on the Oklahoma River.

Drag boat racing is simple: They race, they fly by you and the first one to the line wins.

"Speed and crashes. That's the appeal," Coleman said. "And it's a whole lot cooler sitting and watching on the edge of a lake than sitting on 100 acres of asphalt."

For the racers -- many of whom abandoned the asphalt for the water -- boat racing provides a more thrilling challenge and sensory experience than land racing. A 200-mph clip in a boat feels much faster than going the same speed on land, and it's much more dangerous. Just three or four years ago, boat makers began installing protective canopies on high-speed drag racing boats to reduce fatalities.

"None of it's safe," said Mike Murray, crew chief for Coleman's team. "That's the appeal of it. The only time you have a split second to think about anything is when you first fire the motor up and put the canopy down, because then it's trying to chew you and eat you, and at any time it could bite you."

07-08-2005, 12:34 PM
"Bricktown Nationals schedule


8 a.m. -- Gates open

9 a.m.-6 p.m. -- Test and Tune

7-9 p.m. -- Show and Shine in Bricktown

10 p.m. -- Track/pit areas close


8 a.m. -- Gates open

9 a.m.-9 p.m. -- Race qualifying

11:30 a.m. -- Opening ceremonies

11 p.m. -- Track and pit area close


7:30 a.m. -- Gates open

10:30 a.m. -- Race finals begin

(trophy presentations 30 minutes after the final race)

What makes the Oklahoma River ideal for drag boat racing?

As with almost all water sports, wind is the nemesis to drag boat racing.

"Rain doesn't matter," said Glenn Brown, president of Bricktown Water Sports. "When it rains, we call that resurfacing the track."

High winds, however, can alter competition and make the course more dangerous.

Nothing in Oklahoma will ever be wind-free, but the architects of the Oklahoma River project seem to have kept the water sports industry in mind. The almost V-shaped design of the river blocks out incoming wind, and the east-west water flow aids in wind control as well.

Low banks make for very little wave action, which can send boats out of control. These conditions make Oklahoma City a potential premiere location for national water sports competition.

By Aidan Tait "

07-08-2005, 12:53 PM
My uncle was a big motor sports fan. he now lives with his wife in Glasgow, Scotland. He would have given anything to witness this event.

But this is clear evidence of downtown rejuvenation. Water motor sports on Oklahoma City's river? That's incredible! Given 10 years ago it was a dry river bed with just a trickle of water over silt. It's truly amazing, and something I'd hoped to see in Oklahoma City someday. Now it is here, and the dreams of many for a lively river have come true. There have already been rowing events, but now drag boat racing? This, to me, is awesome.