Morehead City: Open Letter to Offshore
In the days leading up to the Crystal Coast Grand Prix, a multitude of feelings were swirling around our community. Some of us were scared, some were excited, some were under pressure. As it seems to be with most of our promotions, things began to fall into place. Jeff McCann and his staff in Morehead City, pulled out all of the stops. We pulled into town, unsure of the severity of CDC guidelines, unsure of participation at both fan and participant levels. We were quickly reassured. Thirty five race teams from all over the country were there. The city of Morehead was waiting with open arms. The good vibrations were back. While everyone used their own free will, they also respected one and others feelings on the virus. As it should be, a community bound together. The hotels and restaurants gave an honest effort to accommodate the masses while maintaining the cleanliness, and integrity of their establishment. It was a breath of fresh air, and a taste of normalcy.
On Saturday morning, in the wake of the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11th. The racers humbly took to the course. It was an impressive spectacle to look out on the water and see the outpouring of patriotism, and compassion. Every boat, spectator or racer, had an American flag flown with a nod to their respective political candidate. It felt whole, it felt complete. After months of unrest, it felt good to be in the midst of positive people, and American patriots. We went to sleep that night proud to have been a part of this feeling, it was more than just another boat race.
Sunday morning I walked down to the pits, 0700, with a bounce in my step. Smitty delivered the drivers meeting, and the tension was in the air. Here we go, there it is, those pre race jitters were back. Race fuel vibrated through the area, helmets and jackets on the boats. Drivers and throttlemen having their meetings. Crew chiefs giving everything the final inspection before competition. Fans making their way in, placing their final bets. The cranes were slinging boats left and right, the ramps were jammed packed. Everyone was finally at the dock. Fifteen minutes to go, a hush fell over the crowds. The national anthem was being sung live from Jack's Waterfront Bar. Hats removed, hands on our hearts, those who could stand were standing at attention. A roar near the conclusion was unleashed loud and proud enough to reach the spectator fleet anchored on the course. A fly over ensued. A local stunt pilot began wowing the masses. Shortly after the completion of the first scheduled race, the skies opened up. Lighting, thunder, and rain blessed the crowd. No one left. The checkered flag was out concluding the third and final race of the day, and the sun came out.
Standing in the crowd watching long time veterans, and first time rookies, walk to the stage to be acknowledged in victory. I was proud. I wasn't just proud of the phenomenal work by the organizers, promoters, or participants. I was proud to have been there. I was proud to be a part of the real America. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank all parties involved for a moving, and successful weekend. And thank you for reminding me and all that made the trip, that there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and no better sport in the world than offshore powerboat racing.
Nick “Boomer” Smith
OPA Racing - Vice President