In my last post, I went over the fact concerning trend that powerboat racing has taken in recent years. The American Power Boat Association’s membership numbers have been dwindling for the last 20 years, especially in the Mod Outboard, Stock Outboard, and Professional Racing Outboard categories. These smaller outboard categories give people something fun to do on summer weekends, bring friends and families together, and may even launch drivers into OPC, Offshore, Inboard, and Unlimited classes. Powerboat racing is a part of the American racing landscape and has been a huge part of my life since I was six years old. That is why I was really happy to hear that APBA’s Driver School had been created.
Here is the basic premise of Driver School. People who have never been in a race boat show up to the event. They pay a one-time entry fee. This fee can vary. At one event in 2010, the club charged APBA’s standard $35 one-event membership fee plus $25 for the club’s expenses. In exchange for that, they get to try out equipment from a variety of classes that has lended by racers for the day. They learn how to drive, how to start, what the flags mean, and the other basics of boat racing.
Typically, these Driver Schools are on the Friday before a boat racing weekend. They could also be offered on the Saturday or Sunday morning before a race starts. A first-time driver who has gone through a Driver School may even choose to run their first race on that same weekend, if they can find someone willing to lend them the boat, motor, and safety gear.
These Driver Schools are a great opportunity to get fresh blood into racing. Driver School is not the only way for a new driver to get into racing. I got a boat ride during a private testing session and I’ve just been learning as I go, with some help and advice from my fellow drivers.