By Bill Baab
Augusta’s 1985 debut into big-time powerboat racing started off River Race Augusta with a bang.
The outboard-powered ChampBoats driven by Tommie Sikes of Appling, Ga., and Paul Heathman of Lakeland, Fla., were side-by-side at speeds approaching 100 mph when both did spectacular, 360-degree, bow over stern flips. The accident was caused by the rush of air between the two boats which had gotten too close during their downstream leg.
Neither driver was seriously injured, but the crowd at the inaugural River Race Augusta on the Savannah River was horrified. However, they soon learned that, as in stock car racing, crashes are the norm.