by Kelsie Hoitomt
MENOMONIE- Jerry Leonard of Leonard’s Auto Body and Towing in Glenwood City has a special passion for boats.
It isn’t the typical pontoon or bass boat that intrigues Leonard; his hobby involves speed and a lot of it.
Leonard is a drag racer in the Upper Midwest Power Boat Association (UMPBA), a non-profit organization that covers Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
He has been competitively racing for 14 years now throughout the Midwest.
He currently has around 10 different race boats. From 2006 through this year, he had been racing his blue Hydrostream Viper, which was made in New Brighton, Minnesota before the company closed its doors in 1991.
His latest boat is a black and metallic gold/burnt orange Quarter Shot designed by Full Throttle Powerboats, which runs well over 100 mph.
Leonard raced the Quarter Shot for the first time on Saturday, July 28 during his own “Rage on the Red Cedar” drag race.
This was the first race Leonard has hosted, which took place near Wakanda Park in Menomonie on the Red Cedar River.
There were 22 racers that participated, including several from all over the state of Wisconsin and a few from Minnesota.
“We try really hard to make it to each others races that are in the UMPBA and support the organization,” said Leonard, who met and became friends with most of them through the club and the Three Lakes Shoot Out in Three Lakes, Wisconsin.
There are seven different classes that boats can race in, in the UMPBA, which are based on speed.
The first class or “Lake Racer” class covers boats that go up to 65 mph.
Then there are Lake Racer 1-5 classes that cover speeds from 66 mph to 115 mph.
Boats that travel over 116 mph are classified as “unlimited”, but there were no boats that participated in this class on Saturday.
“We take pride in the UMPBA because our club has a class for everyone, as long as there are at least two boats that want to race, we will let them race even if it’s pontoons,” shared Leonard.
In front of a decent crowd of spectators, Leonard raced his Quarter Shot in the Laker Racer 5 class, which is 106 to 115 mph, against five other boats and took second place.
He lost to friend and fellow UMPBA member, Nick Winski of Waterferd, WI who has been racing since he was 12 years old.
With the help of a Nitrous Oxide System (NOS), the Quarter Shot can easily exceed 115 mph.
After months of planning and preparation, the race went off without a hitch. There were 20 sponsors that helped to fund the insurance needed to cover the race.
Precision Ag donated two water tanks that were used to wash the boats off.
The City of Menomonie not only approved the race, but funded an ambulance crew as well. And there were several Glenwood City locals that helped as the dive crew, announcers and boat launchers.
“The local support was really appreciated and we are looking forward to next year’s race,” said Leonard..