Quake on the Lake, one of Oakland County’s premier summertime events, is just around the corner, slated for July 16-17. For the first time in 42 years, the American Power Boat Association’s (APBA) National Inboard Hydroplane Championships will be held in Michigan as part of this summer’s 12th annual Quake on the Lake event, which has drawn over 350,000 spectators in the past decade. Last year alone about 35,000 spectators attended the event.
“The APBA selected us for the National Championship — it’s like a prize we won,” said Quake on the Lake Board of Directors Chairman Dale Hampshire. “It’s all because the Quake has earned a reputation for being the fastest 1-mile course in North America by setting 17 world records in 11 years, which is very unusual. Racers accumulate more points here than any other races.”
Approximately 120 racing teams are expected to compete this year.
“Before we were one of the stops on the racing circuit, but this is the crowning glory of the National Championship,” Quake on the Lake Executive Director Suzanne Massey said.
The weekend of fun and entertainment will be held on the cerulean waters of Pontiac Lake, right on the border of White Lake and Waterford townships, at the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area.
Last year, the event spanned four days and included a carnival, but this year the organizers are underscoring the racing given the national championship competition.
“Each year is unique in its own right,” Massey said. “Since we are hosting the national championship, we needed to focus on racing and doing what we do best, but it will still be jam-packed with fun.”
Having fun and supporting children
The majority of the proceeds from Quake on the Lake benefit the 501(C)(3) charity known as the Rainbow Connection, which grants wishes to children in Michigan who have life-threatening or terminal illnesses and was founded by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. In the past, proceeds collected from Quake on the Lake have funded trips for children to Hawaii and Disney World. They’ve even been used to buy a pony for a little girl to use for therapy.
“The whole event is wrapped around children and doing things for them like the Rainbow Connection, which focuses on children with challenges,” Hampshire said.
Quake on the Lake organizers have doled out over $100,000 to various charities since the event’s inception.
A portion of the 2011 proceeds will also be donated to community grassroots initiatives.
Since its inception, Quake on the Lake has made contributions to organizations such as Jaycee and Lions clubs, local optimist clubs, high school sports teams, and the Veterans Canine Association.
“We’ve donated money to canine handlers in Afghanistan by sending the Marine in charge items for himself and his dogs,” Hampshire said.
This year, the Quake on the Lake team will be setting up a viewing tent for Oakland County Children’s Village so children can attend the event free of charge.
“It will be a VIP tent for a few kids to watch the races, have some food and enjoy the event,” Hampshire said.
More than just racing events
Quake on the Lake organizers annually commit their energies and resources to ensure the event is a success by lining up a myriad of food vendors and diverse musical acts. Between 10 and 12 food vendors will be selling fare from hot dogs to BBQ summertime favorites, and from ice cream to slushes.
“We’ll be serving up summertime foods for a variety of appetites and budgets,” Massey said.
Alcohol will be sold courtesy of Budweiser, a huge supporter of the event for eight years.
“It’s a great event for the community where people come out in droves every year,” Hampshire said. “Each year we try something new and the community really supports it.”
Music fills the air beginning on July 16, several Michigan acts take the stage. The live concert schedule for July 16 is as follows:
• 1 p.m. — The Verve Pipe’s “Family Album-Calling All Kids” special program just for children;
• 2:30 p.m. — The Excluders;
• 3:15 p.m. — The Strict;
• 4 p.m. — 4D All Girl Rock Band;
• 4:45 p.m. — The Detroit Groove Kings;
• 5:30 p.m. — The Magic Bus;
• 6:30 p.m. — The Infatuations;
• 8 p.m. — The Verve Pipe; and
• 10 p.m. — Rare Earth.
On Sunday, July 17, it’s Country Music Day at the Quake on the Lake site, including the following scheduled performances:
• 11 a.m. — Bullhonkey Deluxe;
• Noon — Tripp n’ Dixie
• 1 p.m. — Terrie Lea & the Mustangs;
• 2 p.m. — Billy Craig; and
• 3 p.m. — Shotgun Willie.
All concerts are included in the $10 gate admission, but VIP concert tickets are available for $25 (plus a $5 handling/service charge) in advance via the Quake on the Lake website or by paying at the gate and redeemed at the Will-Call desk. A valid photo ID of purchaser is necessary.
The VIP experience entitles each patron to access to a private restroom; the choice of covered or uncovered seating in front of the stage area; and alcoholic beverages served by a private bartender.
While all the thrills of hydroplane boat racing are taking place on the water, the entire family can take advantage of fun on land at the Family Fun Zone. The zone will feature summertime fun for kids of all ages, including a rock climbing wall; the latest and greatest new vehicle and ski boat displays; the Flaming Pistons Car Club showcasing classic cars and hot rods; high performance race cars; and a silent auction.
“There will be inflatables of all kinds like topical mazes, an obstacle course, a gigantic slide — you name it, we’ve got it,” Massey said.
Racing along the continent’s fastest course
The last time the National Inboard Hydroplane Championships were held in Michigan was at Ford Lake near Ypsilanti in 1969.
“Quake on the Lake is among Oakland County’s best quality-of-life events,” Patterson said. “To host the National Inboard Hydroplane Championships validates what a great event Quake on the Lake is.”
The Pontiac Lake race course is recognized as the fastest 1-mile course in North America — 17 world speed records have been broken in 10 classes of inboard hydroplane races held during past Quake on the Lake events.
The speed of the Pontiac Lake course can be attributed to the environment surrounding the lake. The natural shorelines and abundance of trees help to naturally protect the water from winds. This, in turn, provides a smooth course for competitors.
“Racers come from all over the map,” said event Water Safety Coordinator Todd McQuade. “Everyone who was at the Walled Lake Thunder (races in June) will also be at the Quake because it’s a national points race.”
This year’s hydroplane racing will feature classes that will run from 90 mph to those that approach 175 mph in the straightaways. The Eastern Divisional Championships were held at Pontiac Lake in 2009 and over 100 race teams attended from across the continent.
“The Eastern Divisional earned us one of the highest point ratios in the country,” Hampshire said.
McQuade has been integrally involved in the Quake on the Lake races for the past 12 years.
“Basically if there’s an accident or wreck on the lake, I oversee what the tow boats do and how they do it,” he said. “I procure the on-water support.”
As a result, Skiers Point in Waterford has donated around a dozen boats ranging from inboard ski boats to pontoons to use for support purposes.
The boats and racing schedule
A total of 10 boat classes will be competing on Saturday, July 16, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Races will be held on Sunday, July 17 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The classes competing are as follows:
• 1.5 Litre Stock; minimum length, 14 feet; class letter T or Y; engine, 900 to 1600 cc with various modification, methanol or racing gasoline. These are popular, small and economical boats. The 1.5 Litre Stock hydroplanes can hit 95 mph. They are typically powered by 4-cylinder 1200 to 1500 cc Toyota engines and use ordinary pump gas.
• 1.5 Litre Modified; minimum length, 14 feet; class letter T or Y; engine, 900 to 1600 cc with various modifications, methanol or racing gasoline. Anything goes on these highly-modified, 4-cylinder speed demons. Powered by pump gas or methanol to a top speed of 105 mph.
• 2.5 Litre Stock; minimum length, 14 feet; class letter S; engine, stock 2000 or 2300 cc 4-cylinder. The affordable 2.5 Litre Stock class boats can exceed 100 mph. Powered by 4-cylinder Ford engines (2000 cc or 2.3 litre) running on pump gas, the 2.5 Litre affords very exciting side-by-side racing at a reasonable cost.
• 2.5 Litre Modified; minimum length, 16 feet; class letter A; engine, fully modified 2.5 Litre displacement. Engines used are Ford, Alfa Romeo, BMW, Datsun, Fiero, Fontana and others. The 2.5 Litre Modified racer can hit speeds over 125 mph. A few restrictions apply. However, these hydros can use pump gas, methanol or aviation fuel, and engine alterations are limited only by the racer’s imagination.
• 5 Litre; minimum length, 16 feet; class letter E; engine, 305 cu. in. stock Chevrolet or Ford V-8 2 BBI, carb, pump gas. Ford, Plymouth and Chevrolet stock V-8 engines power the 5 Litre Stock hydroplanes to speeds of 115 mph. These offer racing excitement on a budget.
• National Modified: minimum length, 19 feet; class letter NM; engines, up to 368 cu. in. allowed, various modifications, methanol or racing gas. The National Modified hydro offers speeds of 140 mph. Many engine combinations are possible — from 4-cylinders to V-8s.
• Grand National; minimum length 20 feet; class letter GNH; engine, V-8, various modifications up to 468 cu. in. racing gas. The Grand Nationals are one of the largest and fastest inboard classes. Their incredible speed (150 mph) and 70-foot roostertails make GNH races thrilling for drivers and fans alike. These 20-plus-foot boats are powered by big-block Ford, Chevrolet, Pontiac or Oldsmobile engines.
• Grand Prix; minimum length, 24 feet; class letter, GP; engine, big-block Chevy or Chrysler Hemi. At 170 mph, the Grand Prix hydroplanes are the fastest automotive-powered class in the world. Blown 510 ci, fire-breathing engines power the low-profile sleek hulls around the race course for an unforgettable show.
• Jersey Skiffs; V-bottom 2-seater boats with unique design.
• Vintage; antique boats, 30-years-old and older that vary in class.
The schedule for the hydroplane racing events is as follows:
Saturday, July 16
• 10:30 a.m.: National Anthem
• 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: APBA Inboard Hydroplane National Championships — Testing
• 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.: APBA Inboard Hydroplane National Championships — Qualifying, 1st Round
Sunday, July 17
• 10 a.m.: National Anthem
• 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: APBA Inboard Hydroplane National Championships — Qualifying, 2nd Round
• 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.: APBA Inboard Hydroplane National Championships — Finals
The Pontiac Recreation Area will open each day at 9 a.m. Tickets cost $10 a day for adults, $5 for kids ages 5 to 12, and kids 4 and under are admitted free of charge.
Pit passes for the races are $10 per person. The pit pass allows a person to witness all the “behind the scenes” action first-hand, see all the inboard race boats up close, and personally meet all of the race teams.
Attendees can get to the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area by traveling along M-59 and heading north on Williams Lake Road, immediately west of the Oakland County International Airport. Turn left on Gale Road and look for the recreation area entrance.
For state park Recreation Passport holders, there is no cost to enter the recreation area. Other spectators must purchase a day pass for the event.
Pontiac Lake Recreation Area boasts a vast campground where spectators can roost for costs between $15 and $20 per site per day.
Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed; however, no alcohol is allowed once inside the event grounds, and all coolers will be inspected.
Participating Quake on the Lake sponsors include the Spinal Column Newsweekly and Oakland Lakefront. For a complete list and other information, visit www.quakeonthelake.org.