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Gone, but not forgotten...
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Powerboat Races

Powerboats at White Rock Lake
Photo courtesy Jay Firsching of Architexas and the Dallas Park and Recreation Dept.

Today, with none but sailboats, kayaks, and canoes gracing the waters of White Rock Lake, it's hard to imagine that powerboats such as the ones seen here in this undated photograph once zoomed across it.

Not surprisingly, there was ill-feeling between sailboaters and powerboaters right from the beginning. To the powerboaters, the sailboaters were too slow. To the sailboaters, the powerboaters were too fast and too noisy. They even called each other names: The sailboaters were "rag-packers." The powerboaters were "stink-pots."

Sometimes there were accidents, such as the one that occurred in April 1929 when a sailboat was overturned by the wake of "a sturdy wooden craft with an outboard motor," plunging the occupants "into the chilly waters of the lake." Fortunately, they were saved.

Some weren't so lucky. In 1933 William G. Dixon, a 55-year-old Dallas fireman was drowned after his fishing boat was swamped by the swell of some "frolicing motorboats."

Powerboat races were held on a regular basis until World War II. They began near the municipal boathouse and raced up to Mockingbird Point and back. There were so many people that came out to see them that Tee Pee was usually covered with cars.

Many powerboaters enjoyed a sport called "aquaplaning," which was like surfing, except behind the wake of a boat. Remarkably, waterskiing wasn't all that popular at White Rock.

After World War II powerboats continued to be popular on the lake but in 1958, reportedly after a an altercation, the City passed an ordinance restricting motors to less than 10 and 1/2 horsepower. This not only took the powerboats off the lake but also the Bonnie Barge.


Interview with former powerboat owner and dealer Bill Mott, Oct. 7, 2004

Daily Dallas Times Herald, June 4 and July 4, 1933, & July 5, 1935

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