Outboard championships 1971

Boats in the eighth running of the Outboard World Championships in Lake Havasu City tear away from the pit areas in November 1971. The powerboat racing event will return this weekend as the Lake Havasu Classic Outboard Championships.  

An event that was once known as the premiere outboard race in the world officially returns to Lake Havasu City this weekend.

The Lake Havasu Classic Outboard Championships, featuring world class international powerboat racers, begins Friday and concludes Sunday. The powerboat racing event will be conducted by the NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Series. The three-day event will feature racing in three classes: Formula 1, Tri-Hull and Formula Lights.

Friday’s slate includes test runs for all three classes from noon to 2:45 p.m. Saturday begins with more test runs for all three classes at 9 a.m. with qualifying races to follow for the Formula Lights and Formula 1.

Friday evening will feature the London Bridge Outboard Races Beach Party at the Nautical Beachfront Resort. This event allows attendees to see vintage outboards up close and meet drivers throughout the sport’s history to today. The vintage outboard display will be allowed to view for one night only.

Racing officially kicks off Saturday with the Formula 1 heat races at 1 p.m. Racing is scheduled to continue until after 5 p.m. Tri-Hull and Formula Lights will have heat races throughout the day.

Sunday’s action begins at 9 a.m. with the day concluding with awards immediately after the final race. The final race on Sunday is a Formula 1 final that is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

Race headquarters will be the Nautical Beachfront Resort, which will include free spectating areas that will look over Thompson Bay, which was the site for the original World Championships. Other viewing options include London Bridge Beach and Rotary Park, but those areas will be more distanced from the course.

The entire race schedule could be viewed online at golakehavasu.com.

The original Outboard Championships was once a Thanksgiving tradition in the early days of Havasu. The powerboat races were initiated by Havasu founder Robert P. McCulloch, who later purchased the then sinking London Bridge in 1968.

The Outboard Championships brought thousands to Havasu every year starting with 10,000 spectators at the inaugural event in 1964. Havasu’s population was around 600 at the time of the first race.

After a one-year hiatus after 1973, outboard racing returned in 1975 and Havasu continued to host the World Championships through 1990.


Jeremiah Martinez is a California native and a graduate of Sacramento State University. He covers sports and recreation for the Today's News-Herald. You may reach Jeremiah at jmartinez@havasunews.com and you could follow him on Twitter @TheJerryMartin.

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