Powerboat Racing Brings Tourism Boost

Powerful boats that roar across the Mississippi Sound this weekend, will resonate a welcoming message for the hospitality industry.

"This is, to me, going to be the boost that the coast needs. And to supplement that campaign we're showing people what we have going on. And "Smokin' the Sound" is really going to take the lead this Spring in bringing people back to the Gulf Coast," said Woody Bailey, as he helped oversee set up of "Race Village" at the old Casino Magic parking lot.

"Nice town. We like coming here and glad to see some of the infrastructure is back together so we can be back here," said John Brunner, with Offshore Super Series racing.

Race teams will not only be "Smokin' the Sound," they'll also be filling area hotels and restaurants.

"A lot of the teams will bring two or three crew members with them. We've got other team members and crews that come in with forty or more people. So, there's a lot of people coming to town," said Brunner.

Thomas Snider is a pre-race promoter. He and his wife Mimzie arrived last Friday to begin talking up "Smokin' the Sound." They've been spending time and money here.

"We went gambling, which was more fabulous. We lost money, but that's okay. We've shopped at all the Wal Marts we've been at," said Mimzie Snider.

"Restaurants. Hotels. The Wal Marts. The truck over there, we had to get an oil change in," said Thomas, who says he's most impressed with the friendly folks in South Mississippi.

Race teams are still arriving for the weekend. Organizers say Biloxi holds special significance. It was the first stop when the offshore series kicked off in '04.

"People are coming to us and saying, 'Boy, we're glad to have you back. We're glad you're back.' And we're like, wow, we're so honored that you'd have us," said Mimzie Snider.

Qualifying heats are this Saturday, with the races to follow on Sunday. The race course stretches between the Biloxi lighthouse and the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge.

General admission wrist bands cost $10.