Races are conducted as closed-course (circle track style) marathons. The course is rectanglar (as opposed to an oval auto track), non-surveyed, with an average of four pins/turns. The total distance of one lap is approximately two-thirds of a mile.
The fasted lap of a three lap time trial race is run to determine the starting grid for the first qualifying heat race. The fastest boat will take the pole position and continue down the line from there on the starting line up.
The first qualifying heat race finish will be inverted for the second qualifying heat race starting position.
The overall finish in the qualifying rounds set up the positions for the Championship Main Event Final race.
A modified LeMans (dead engine - diver in the boat) start from a dock or seawall is used. Race craft are held in position by crew members ans when the dock referees determine that everyone is in the correct position, the Chief Referee fies the one-minute gun warning flare. Tension mounts as the announcer ticks off the seconds. The Starter, usually in the primary rescue boat, raises the flag at twenty seconds to the count down, then drops it, at their discretion, anytime between nineteen and zero seconds.
Branson will use a "Rolling Start" method as used in Nascar.
The Final Race
The Main Final racing event starts with a field of approximately10 Powerboats with pilots representing different states in the US. The field races on a course of 4 pins or buoys and are generally 1/2 to 3/4 mile in distance. Boats are lined up on a dock and are set going from a dead start, all at once. The total number of laps range between 20 and 30, and last for approximately 20 minutes, while offering a continuous and exciting racing experience. Safety is guaranteed by the Official Rescue Team that is made up of professional rescue personnel, divers and medics. The weekend is supervised by the Official Race Committee.
The first driver past the checkered flag after completing the proscribed number of laps in the least amount of time without earning any penalties is the winner. The remainder of the field is judged on their positions on the race course after the winning boat is declared. Official results are posted at the conlusion of technical inspection.
Infractions resulting in penalties... include early or false starts, hitting and/or dislodging a buoy, causing the race to stop and failure to pass technical inspection. Most penalties will put the driver a lap down. If a driver does not pass technical inspection, they may be disqualified.
The white flag is flown at the beginning of the last lap of the final championship race. Displayed to the lead boat, it is the signal that teams look for; it's the last chance to make a move and improve your position and for the lead boat - just one more lap to a victory. As the leader takes the checkered, the work of the chief inspector begins. First through third places are weighed, boat, motor, slings and the driver...just as the equipment was raced. First and second position boats and a third random draw boat, go directly to inspection. Final results are not certified until the technical inspection is complete.