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Quake the Lake boat races coming June 15

The annual Quake the Lakes competition will be in Detroit Lakes on Saturday, June 15. The races will be on Detroit Lake in front of the Holiday Inn. BRIAN BASHAM/RECORD

It’s time to kick back and enjoy some good old fashioned showboating.

Quake the Lakes is almost here, and the 7th annual boat racing event promises to be packed full of excitement.

“It’s cool,” said Kevin Flynn, sales and marketing manager for the Holiday Inn at the Lakes where the event is being held. “We watched it from a houseboat last year and they are just flying. I don’t know if I’d do it, but I sure like watching it.”

The event is put on by the Twin Cities Power Boat Association, and the Region 8 races in Detroit Lakes are one of a handful of qualifying races across the Midwest.

Roughly 45 to 50 racers from Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan will be pulling their boats into town for the popular summertime sport that starts at high noon on Saturday, June 15. That’s when drivers will be testing out their boats and motors for any bugs or snags before the races begin at 1 p.m.

“And we’ll have six different classes from entry level to 200 mercury motors going up to speeds of 130 miles an hour,” said Race Director Ross Rolshoven, who is himself retired from the sport.

The event is free and open to the public, which Rolshoven says is an unbelievable opportunity, given the fact that others around the world pay big bucks to see a show like this up close and personal.

“If you’re in France or Monaco and wanted to watch this race, you’d pay $1,000 to watch from a hotel room,” he said. “So to be this close to such a powerful event and it doesn’t cost you a dime…that’s great.”

Quake the Lakes is Saturday, June 15 — which also happens to be Father’s Day weekend.

“So fathers get the chance to say ‘hey, this is my day and I want to go see some awesome, powerful racing,” laughed Rolshoven, adding that spectators come from all over for this once-a-year opportunity in Detroit Lakes.

Some of those spectators bring their own lawn chairs, blankets or even watch from their own boats outside of the race perimeter.

“It’s important that those boats stay back though because if something happens during the race and they’re flying, there needs to be some distance there,” said Rolshoven, who says these races can be more than just a little dangerous for drivers.

“Especially in the upper classes when you’re going 125 miles an hour and you’re taking a corner…” said Rolchoven, “There are no breaks on these boats, so if you do it right it looks like ballet; if you do it wrong it’s a barrel roll.”

Racers are prepared for those barrel rolls before competing, as they undergo capsule training similar to that of fighter pilots.

“They put you in a capsule and you’re thrown upside down in a lake or pool,” explained Rolshoven, “and you have to extricate yourself from your harness, get from underneath the boat and get yourself up and out.”

Certainly there have been boat racers who have been injured in these events, but Rolshoven says it’s a sport unique to anything else in the world.

“It is the most focused you will ever be in your life when you have a boat on either side of you and you’re going 100 miles per hour,” he said. “You can’t think about if you’re late on the mortgage or if you’re having problems with your spouse or girlfriend. For those 10 minutes you’re on the course, everything in your being is directed toward what you’re doing. It’s the ultimate thrill that can be a cruel mistress, but when you do it right it’s a very satisfying feeling.”               

It’s those intense thrills on the lake that translate into a good show for spectators on land.

“It’s right on the beach at the Holiday Inn, and so people can come and hang out on the patio,” said Flynn. “The bar will be open and ready to rock, so we’ll be having drink and food specials, dockside pizza and doing some grilling there. It should just be a good, fun, family-friendly event and really add to the summertime fun in Detroit Lakes.”