Like many others gathered along the banks of the Savannah River to witness the final day of the Augusta Southern Nationals on Sunday, Scott Creswell stood atop Augusta’s levee with his eyes trained on the starting line.
Moments later, the drivers of two high-performance boats closed their cockpits and prepared to launch.
The boats rocked backward and the exhaust pipes spewed fire as the racers thundered down the course, creating a rooster tail of water several yards behind them.
The race ended just seconds after it started. Creswell spun around excitedly to tell the rest of his party that one of the boats had reached 167 mph.
“If that don’t get your blood flowing, nothing will,” he said.
Creswell, who was joined by friends and family beneath two tents on top of the levee, said he makes a weekend out of the event. A former boat sponsor, he now spends the racing weekend from his levee perch, which has a view of the complete track and of the Top Fuel Hydro pit crews.
After last year’s event was canceled because of excess amounts of rain, Creswell said, he was just glad to hear the roar of the boats again.
“It’s just so awesome that you can watch these (Top Fuel Hydro boats) make a pass, come back, take the motor and the prop out so that it’s completely stripped down and rebuild it in two hours to run again,” he said.
Creswell’s son A.J., who attended many of the events as a child, said Sunday was the perfect opportunity to re-experience the excitement while sharing something new with his wife, Leah.
“After I found out that it was coming, and knowing that she had never been here, I wanted to relive it all over again,” he said.
Leah Creswell, a native of Kansas City, Mo., said that before Sunday, she had only seen boat races on television.
“I love the noise and the boats,” she said. “I love that it’s something that the whole community comes out to enjoy.”
Scott Creswell said the races have something to offer everybody. He recalls seeing records broken at most of the events, and even saw his sponsored driver breaking 250 mph.
“There’s something awesome happening every year,” he said. “It’s worth anybody’s time to come down even if they don’t like boats or know anything about them.”
Now that his son has grown, he said, he looks forward to introducing his future grandchildren to the event.