Augusta powerboat racing pioneer dies at 89

Harold Bateman

Harold Bateman, a powerboat racing pioneer in the Augusta area, died Monday. He was 89.

In the 1960s, outboard motorboat racing on Thurmond Lake was beginning to gain in popularity and Bateman was in the thick of it.

Races were held on Keg Creek out of what is now called Wildwood Park. Bateman and his son, Donald, not only were racing competitors but also did their best to promote the sport wherever they went.

Long before those races got started, Lake Olmstead was the place to go to watch hydroplane races on weekend afternoons.

Bateman's marine dealership in Martinez became a hotbed of powerboat racing activities, with racers dropping by to pick up pointers from the owner, who was an expert at setting up boats and motors to race.

He even sponsored a racing team that included him, his son and others. Come the weekends, they were off to the races throughout the Southeast.

He was responsible, in part, for many area residents getting involved in the sport. They included Rusty Campbell, of Augusta.

"If you wanted your boat to run fast, you couldn't do any better than to talk to Harold," Campbell said. "He was an innovator and had an imagination. Rarely do you find people like Harold who could put that combination together and make it work."

Bateman held many outboard racing records, and even after retiring from racing, he never lost his enthusiasm for the sport.

The funeral will be private. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors, 214 Davis Road.