Speedboat Nationals Return to Long Beach Marine Stadium – Daily Breeze

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  • Jeff Colomon of Orange shows his children Gage, Jack and Hannah a vintage drag boat on display at Marine Stadium for the Long Beach Sprint National Championships on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Barry McCown poses in a vintage drag boat he rode at Marine Stadium in the 1960s and exhibited at the Long Beach Sprint Nationals on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Orange’s Rick Benvenuto and Christina Guerrero discover a vintage drag boat on display at the Long Beach National Sprint Championships on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • The ARP Long Beach Sprint National Championships returned to Marine Stadium after a one-year hiatus on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Charlie “Guzzie” Hammill is ready to get into the water in his K-boat at Marine Stadium for the Long Beach National Sprint Championships on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Trent Gilmore, Jr. of Lakewood, 2, straddles his father’s shoulders at Marine Stadium during his first National Sprint Championships in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Spectators stop for the national anthem ahead of the start of the National Sprint Championships at Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Vendor booths and speedboats brought spectators to the National Sprint Boat Races at Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • After jumping last year due to Covid, the Sprint National Boat Races returned to Marine Stadium in Long Beach on Saturday, August 7, 2021. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

The stars are back.

After a one-year coronavirus-induced hiatus, the Southern California Speedboat Club returned to Marine Stadium with the ARP Long Beach Sprint National Championships on Saturday, August 7. The event will end on Sunday August 8.

The competition was a homecoming for the club, as racing teams from across the country descended on what promoters call the birthplace of powerboat racing on the West Coast. The Southern California Speedboat Club, which first hosted the championships in Long Beach in 1946, held races last year in Bakersfield and Parker, Arizona. But the club, promoter Ross Wallach said last month, “was sorely missed at Long Beach.”

Thousands of people lined up at the stadium to watch the motorboat racers compete – as they did before the pandemic. The championships included 12 classes of boats, from K Racing Runabouts at over 150 mph to Crackerbox class flat-bottomed boats.

Jeff Colomon, of Orange, was eager to show his children Gage, Jack and Hannah, a vintage drag boat on display at Marine Stadium for the first day of the event on Saturday.

For years, Jeff has attended the race every year with his family in honor of his father, Dan Colomon, who raced boats at Marine Stadium.

Jeff said: “My dad raced boats here until he died about 12 years ago. We went out and did a memorial service on this run here and put his ashes in turn 1 as a tribute. Every year I go out, except last year because of COVID, and I bring my boys who never met their grandfather, but through that they can see the life he lived. I was really disappointed that I missed last year, but I’m glad to be back. It’s awesome.

Todd Kelm, owner of Gretchen Automotive Repair Shop, 1965 Palo Verde Ave., began his pilot career as a crew member for a friend. Then he settled into a position of support by providing a tow boat for the races – before, finally, watching his son and two sons-in-law compete against each other.

One of the best things about powerboat racing, he said, is that no one is sponsored.

“We do it for the love of the sport,” Kelm said. “Everything we do is out of our pocket. The other thing that’s so nice is that people are free to walk around the pits, talk to the competitors and ask questions, and that’s something you can’t do every day.

Correspondents Gary Metzker and Howard Freshman contributed to this report.

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