Thurmond Lake turned into a racecourse Saturday afternoon when the American Powerboat Association brought its Southeast Division Championship to Wildwood Park.
Racers in stock, modified and pro categories – mainly from the Carolina Virginia Racing Association – competed for double points. They did three laps around a 3/4-mile course, with speeds reaching up to 100 mph.
The biggest race of the day was in the C-Stock Modified category. On the line for the first-place finisher was an automatic berth into the national finals in Michigan at the end of July.
Austin VanOver, of Cincinnati had to borrow a boat and motor just to race. He won the first heat, finished fourth in the second heat and was the overall winner.
“It’s a pretty nice win and good to take one from the Southern boys,” VanOver said.
Because he is from the Central Division, he did not receive an automatic berth.
Mel Thomas, who loaned VanOver one of his boats, finished second overall, despite winning the second heat. Thomas was one of four boats disqualified from the first heat for a false start.
“I was so hepped up for the first heat and overanxious,” said Thomas. “By the second heat I had calmed down.”
Two junior racers showed why they are among the nation’s best.
Austin Price, the 2011 national champion in Junior Runabout, won his fifth consecutive race of the year. The 13-year-old from Haymarket, Va., also finished second in the AX Runabout, behind 16-year-old Becky Nichols, of Cocoa, Fla.
It was Nichols’ eighth consecutive win in the category. She also finished second in the 350 Mod Hydro and third in the A-Stock Hydro.
The division championship was a one-day affair, but normal racing is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. today.