Smokin' the Sound raising purse size to attract racers - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Smokin' the Sound raising purse size to attract racers

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

This weekend, some of the fastest boats around will go full throttle on the Mississippi Sound. Preparations are underway for the 10th annual Smokin' the Sound. Organizers hope to lure more racers this year by offering larger prizes.

The "Pirate Racing" team is ready to roar this weekend. The 30 foot Phantom was the first boat to arrive in Biloxi for Smokin' the Sound.

"It's amazing that we've been doing it for this long. It's hard to believe. I looked at that the other day on one of our folders that we've been doing this for ten years, but it's been great. We've had our ups and downs. The economy has affected us the last few years. We think we're building back with the number of race teams," said Executive Director Woody Bailey.

Between 15 and 20 boats are expected to compete Saturday and Sunday, turning the Mississippi Sound into a race course. This year, organizers are raising the purse size.

"The purse we're offering the race teams is $75,000. We've never offered a purse that high. Usually it's been around $35,000 or so, but we're doing some things to try to attract the teams here to participate," said Bailey.

The event is expected to draw about 25,000 spectators. Along with the races, crowds can catch other action on the water from the Poker Run to the Category Five Shoot-out.

"We'll actually have a state trooper with a radar gun telling everybody just how fast their boats go. Last year, we had one boat go 164 mph. So there'll be some exciting speed here, a lot of racket up and down the channel in Biloxi," said Bailey. "We're excited about the event. We've got a lot of work to do, but it's all coming together."

Bailey said both Smokin' the Sound and Smokin' the Lake in early May bring in about $3 million a year to the Mississippi Gulf Coast economy.

"The economic impact of the event is what we're shooting for, bring people in from out of town, enjoy the Gulf Coast, and see what we have to offer. So that's what's exciting about doing this and that's why we do it. A lot of us that are involved with it like boats, boating, so it's special to us to help put it on," said Bailey.

On Thursday, many of the boats will be pulling in and racers will be receiving a big welcome. You can also check out Race Village, which is set up next to the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum on Highway 90. That's where you'll see powerboats, displays and vendors.

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