Jet boat racers descend on Greeson for annual event

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    MURFREESBORO – The annual jet boat races took place Saturday on Lake Greeson. Between spectators and racers, there were around 150-200 people gathered in Rock Creek Cove to watch boats reach speeds of up to 130 mph.
    According to Heath Glass, event organizer and racer, the races are simply a “fun family get together.” They occur every Father’s Day weekend on Lake Greeson, giving families an opportunity to get together and do something fun.
    There is no sign up process for racers who want to participate. It is not sanctioned and anyone can compete. No reward is given to race winners; the real reward is the adrenaline rush from reaching top speeds and hearing cheers from the crowd.
    The race course is identified by two orange buoys, placed 800 feet apart. Within those 800 feet, boats reach speeds of anywhere from 80-130 mph. Some of the racing boats have up to 1,200 horse power.
    “The races are actually ‘side-by-side testing’ and serve as a prep event for bigger races,” said Glass. Other races occur on Lake DeGray, Broken Bow Lake, Wright-Patman Lake, Lake Ouachita, and many other lakes around the area.
    The event on Lake Greeson usually attracts around 20 racing boats from four surrounding states – Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.
    Two primary organizations that take part in the festivities are the Outlaw Boat Racers and the Byu Boyz. In preparation for races, safety checks are key, said Glass. Kill switches and appropriate lifejackets are extremely important.
    Glass says he races because he “has a passion for water and speed.” He drives a Kustom Craft TX-19 and works as a senior lineman for Entergy when not on the water. Glass says that most of the racers are your “normal, every-day people.”
    A few of the racers are Larry “Chop” Helms, Ryan Piazza, Shane Story, and Dustin Young.
    Young is a local from Kirby and drives a Youngblood TX-18. “A lot of time and money goes into racing. I put around $20,000 into my boat over the past winter” said Young. Fuel is also a large expense for racers.
    Young says he races because of the adrenaline rush it gives him. He lives on the lake and claims that racing weekend is the biggest income weekend of the year for lake marinas.
    In order to have the races, a permit must be applied for through the Corps of Engineers at the lake. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is also involved. Racers and organizers are very thankful that they are allowed to host the event each year on Lake Greeson.
    Alesha Helms, wife of racer Larry Helms, photographs the races and shares the event photos on youngbloodjetboats.com.
    This year’s event was a major success and locals will patiently be waiting for Father Day’s Weekend of 2016 to join the excitement of the races again.