Boats Hope To Pack The Power Of Cruisers

There are obvious differences between Smokin the Sound power boats and the classic cars of Cruisin the Coast. One event is in the spring, the other is in the fall. One event is on water, the other is on land. But there is also one major similarity. Both are designed to draw crowds to South Mississippi.

On Thursday, the Smokin crowds started to arrive.

Linda French proudly wore her free Smokin the Sound T-shirt.

"When I retired, I made a resolution that I would volunteer for all the fun things," the volunteer said. "And this sounded like fun." So French directed traffic at Smokin the Sound's race village.

One of the first teams through the gate was WHM Motorsports. Ray McMichen is the team's acting crew chief.

"It's exciting to come to a new city that we have never raced before," he said, referring to this inaugural race in Biloxi.

Race coordinator George Linder also gave a big thumbs up.

"Oh yes. Very glad to be here in Biloxi," he said.

Linder sees a bright future for this power boat showcase.

"I think this can become an annual event with many times the number of boats that are here now," he said. "I can see in a year or two, instead of having 35 boats or 40 boats, we'll be up to 100-120 as we have in a few other races."

If that happens, Smokin the Sound and its Point Cadet race course will give South Mississippi tourism attractions exactly what they're looking for in mid to late April.

Asher Travis is a hotel executive who spearheaded efforts to bring Smokin the Sound to South Mississippi.

"What we're looking for is to create a spring Cruisin the Coast type event, except we're doing it on the water," he said.

The water is where you can watch these boats put on quite a show Saturday and Sunday.

"I hope they see a good time," McMichen said. "I hope we put on a good race. I hope the weather goes along with us and excites the people in the city, and want us to come back and do it again."

Because this is the first Smokin the Sound, organizers aren't sure how many people will attend the races. And they don't know what the economic impact will be.

The power boat races are competing against a Keesler Air Force Base air show, and Jazz Fest in New Orleans.