Demop man ready to ‘just rumble’ in ODBA race

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 15, 2004

DEMOPOLIS-One local resident is ready to “Just Rumble” come this weekend during the ODBA’s (Outboard Drag Boat Association) 2nd annual River City Rumble.

J.R. Suttles has a long family history of going fast on the water including his uncle, who raced hydro boats back in the 70’s. He said he always remembers being around the sport of boat racing, so it felt natural for me to want to race.

“I’ve always liked to go fast,” Suttles said, “Especially on the water.”

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He first started racing semi-professionally, back in the 1980’s, then about five years ago he joined on with the ODBA and hasn’t looked back since. He hasn’t missed a race in over five years, except the three last year after he suffered a horrendous crash.

“I’ll never forget that day,” He said, “I turned five flips and then smashed into some rocks.”

Over his five-year career, he has collected many trophies and plaques in the Modified Production Class for his various second and third place finishes, but he has never finished first. All the other trophies are nice, but without a first place finish it just doesn’t feel right.

“I’m hoping to change that come this weekend at the River City Rumble,” Suttles said, “There’s nothing like racing at home.”

He currently sits 2nd in the Mercury Marine Triple Crown points race, as well as 4th in ODBA High points, he said. This year has gone very well for my team so far.

“We were having a very good year last year, before the wreck,” Suttles said, “But this year, we are looking to win it all.”

With the World Championships coming up in Jasper, Tennessee, he is ready to finally capture the crown in his boat called Wild Hair. The boat runs a ten second quarter mile or in English, that equals out to about 125 miles per hour on the water, he said.

“The one thing about racing on the water is that every race is different,” Suttles said.

It hasn’t been cheap for Suttles to have a world-class boat and run the different races every month, but he wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. My son Cole has only missed two races in the past five years.

“This sport is very family oriented because Cole can tell you more about the boat then I can and I just love to spend time with him,” Suttles said.

Sponsors are the key to this sport because unless they help with the expenses, it can get very expensive in a hurry, he said. The cost to maintain a boat, supplies, spare engines can run upwards of $100,000.

“Without the help of my crew chief Daryl Lane, and Joe Wright, none of my accomplishes so far would have been possible,” he said.

The Wild Hair has a MOTEC Dash Data Recovery System installed in it. It is the only boat in the world that currently has one, it’s the same thing they put in Indy cars to track their progress and download all the race data to make changes to the cars, he said.

The River City Rumble is regarded as the second best race of the season only behind the World Championships in Jasper, Tennessee. All the drivers like the course and this course allows the fans to get very close to the action, he said.

“We are looking to put on a good showing and hopefully get that first place monkey off my back,” Suttles said.