There is a lot of history in the water that involves the Long Beach Marine Stadium.
The stadium had the first artificial rowing course in the United States and was the site of rowing competition during the 1932 Summer Olympics. Decades later, it served as the site for multiple Olympic trials. rowing, including for men in 1968 and 1976 and women in 1984.
But rowing events come and go. These are the motor boat races that keep coming back to the stadium.
The Southern California Speedboat Club has entertained fans annually with the professional powerboat races known as the ARP Long Beach Sprint National Championships for 75 years. Racing teams from across the country will return to the place promoters call the birthplace of powerboat racing on the West Coast on August 7-8, continuing the annual tradition after a year-long hiatus induced by the coronavirus .
“This is a historically and culturally significant event,” said promoter Ross Wallach. “We can’t wait to be back in Long Beach after COVID-19. We want this tradition to continue.
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, Wallach said, “was sorely missed at Long Beach.”
Over the past few years, Wallach said, thousands of people have lined up at the stadium to watch motorboat racers compete against each other. He said he also expects a big crowd this year.
“There is something for everyone over the two days,” he said. “It will be a family crowd because this type of race is a family sporting event. They love to watch the boats reach speeds of over 150 mph.
The Championships will feature 12 boat classes, from K Racing Runabouts at over 150 mph to Crackerbox class flat-bottomed boats.
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.
“It’s amazing; it’s definitely the best site for boat racing,” he said. “When my stepson Sean (Davison) was 9, that was when we started. The boys (including son Tanner Kelm and stepson Jason Davison) are a lot bigger now and we have two boats that we run in two classes.
One race Kelm said he would never forget came when Sean Davison was 11.
“Sean’s boat was a T,” Kelm said. “He was hit by another runner and the boat was shattered into small pieces. But I got a few people together and we got the boat back in time to race the next day.
“Thank goodness Sean was ready to run the next day,” Kelm said of Davison, now 15. “And he won two first place prizes in what had been a broken boat.”
Kelm, 57, entered the motor boat business late in life. He said he bought his first boat from a professional poker player who was leaving the country.
One of the best things about powerboat competition, he added, 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.
If you are going to
When: August 7 and 8; doors open at 8 a.m. and practice begins at 9 a.m. each day.
Or: Marine stadium, 5255 Paoli road
Cost: $ 20 per adult, $ 10 per child, free for children under 5 and military personnel with active identification; parking is $ 20 per day.
Information: 310-318-4012 or scscracing.com.
Note: This story has been updated to correct the dates of the event.