Big boats returning to Biloxi for Smokin' the Sound 2013 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Big boats returning to Biloxi for Smokin' the Sound 2013

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

The event known as "NASCAR on the water" returns to the Mississippi Gulf Coast this spring. We're talking about the powerboat racing called Smokin' the Sound.

Race organizers held a news conference in Biloxi Tuesday morning to announce some changes for 2013. A return of the so-called "big boats" this year, along with a brand new event called a Category 5 shootout were among the changes announced, along with a new affiliation with a powerboat racing group, called Super Boat International.

"This is our course. This is the west end of our race course. This is our big turn, this is a very exciting turn on the race course," said race chairman Woody Bailey, as he looked out over the Mississippi Sound from the balcony of the Biloxi Visitors Center.

Bailey anticipates excitement on the water this spring. Smokin' the Sound kicks off the weekend of April 25th.

"The big boats are back in Biloxi. That's what we're most excited about," he said at the news conference.

The so-called "big boats" are 50 footers capable of speeds up to 170+ miles an hour.

This year's event is affiliated with the racing group Super Boats International.The SBI director says Biloxi is unique.

"The race course itself, as far as being able to come in as close as we do. Right now, we try and do that at all race sites, but you have the opportunity with the set-up. And it makes it easier to do," said John Carbonell, the director of SBI.

Biloxi race fans will also enjoy a new event, called the Category 5 shootout.  It will run on a casino-to-casino course from Beau Rivage to The Isle.

"Some match racing, some time trials. It'll be shot with a radar gun. These guys have got great big egos. Beautiful boats. The kind of event we want to add to this already successful event, on Friday," said organizer Rusty David.

One more change in this year's event involves the relocation of race village.  That's the spot where powerboat pit crews, static displays and vendors are set up.

Usually that's set up at Point Cadet. This year, it will be set up on a vacant lot, right next to the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum, across Highway 90 from the schooner pier.

At it's peak, Smokin' the Sound had an estimated economic impact of several million dollars.

"Naturally, we've had some economic issues to deal with. We had some oil spills we all had to deal with. In fact, prior to 2010 we were really on an increase with our spectators we're bringing in," said Bailey.

The racing begins on April 25. The next weekend will be Smokin' the Lake races at Gulfport Lake.

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