‘Smoke on the Water’ drag boat races did not disappoint

Hope Helm's won second place in the Pro 80 division. (Photo by Jeremy Pyle)

By Jeremy Pyle
Staff Writer

We all came out to Montreux

On the Lake Geneva shoreline

To make records with a mobile

We didn’t have much time
– Ian Gillan, Deep Purple

“Smoke on the Water” (1972)

Mark Robe won second place in Unlimited Jet series. (Photo by Jeremy Pyle)

EL RENO – The 2023 Smoke on the Water drag boat races at Lake El Reno are officially in the books and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Festivities were dampened a bit Saturday morning, July 15 as a cold front blew in from the north around 11 a.m. as the event was about to kick off.

It caused for about a 30-minute weather delay as event organizers scurried to make sure all boaters and fans would be kept safe from wind and potential lightning.

It blew past just to the south of Lake El Reno and by 12:30 p.m. the event was underway.


Farmtruck from the TV show “Street Outlaws” & “Farmtruck & Azn” was on hand to hoist the American flag from the bed of his custom Farmtruck Pontoon boat while the national anthem was performed.

The first race of the day featured layers of mayors including former longtime El Reno Mayor Matt White racing against current El Reno Mayor Steve Jensen.

White celebrated his victory holding his hand high in true Ian Gillan fashion as he crossed the finish line.

Mike Bickel won Basic Stock in his beautiful white boat. (Photo by Jeremy Pyle)

Food trucks and vendors lined up on the roadways offering up fair-style foods and burgers for the patrons showing up to the event.

They gave many options from onion burgers or fried catfish to barbecue ribs or pulled pork sandwiches.

Attendance looked to be in the thousands and there was plenty of food without too long of lines.