July 19, 2014 at 6:24 pm

15th annual Quake on the Lake is all about racing and fun

Waterford— Andrew Tate was pushing his 2.5-liter modified racing boat into the last lap, well on his way to victory in his class at the Quake on the Lake, when his motor blew out.

“I’m done for the weekend,” Tate said after the race. But the weekend was far from a loss for the 24-year-old Plymouth resident, whose been racing for 11 years.

“I’m a fourth generation (racer); it’s kind of the only thing I know,” he said. “We’re all here to race, we want to win, but we’re all here to have fun.”

For the nearly 100 power boat racers, crews and family members, the 15th annual inboard hydroplane race at Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area is an opportunity to reunite with friends and take a shot at setting a new speed record.

“There are very few places around the country that are world record-setting courses and this one has 19 records,” said Tom D’Eath, a three-time American Power Boat Association Gold Cup winner.

D’Eath served as the honorary chair of the event. His last power boat race was in 1990 on the Detroit River, which was also his final win. Although he hasn’t raced professionally in more than three decades, he says the sport is in good hands with the younger racers coming up through the ranks.

“Obviously, it’s a great family event,” he said. “What better atmosphere to bring some chairs and a cooler and watch some boats burn gas and spray water.”

The three-day event that features nine different boat classes, said race chair Mary Anne Wilson. She estimates 30 to 40 percent of the racers are hometown racers, but some have come from as far away as Seattle, southern California, Georgia and all-along the East Coast.

“To have the Quake back, it’s a lot of work but it’s really important to racers,” said Wilson.

Along with the heartbreak, there were some great accomplishments.

Annapolis, Md. native Courtney Stewart, who races a Jersey speed skiff, claimed a national title for her class on Saturday, a day before her 22nd birthday.

“It feels like you’re going faster than you are because you’re on water,” said Stewart, whose boat tops off at 71-mph. “Your adrenaline is so high.”

She is a third generation racer; her grandfather raced and 12 years ago, her father started racing. When he switched to a new team and got a new boat five years ago, she took over his old one. She says she isn’t fazed about going up against veteran racers and is more than happy to take on all the guys.

“I think being one of the few girls that race gives you an extra push to do better,” said Stewart. “You want to prove yourself.”

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John Shaw, left, and Howie Schnabolk, right, race their 2.5 liter Stock Hydroplanes at the 15th Annual Quake On The Lake World Record Hydroplane races. / Todd McInturf / The Detroit News
For the nearly 100 power boat racers, crews and family members, the 15th ... (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)