2013 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #2 Douglas Lake - Dandridge, TN, Apr 4 - 6, 2013

Opens angler has a need for speed

Ray Brazier
Mark Hicks
There's nothing slow about this white-bearded grandpa: “I have, literally, passed other racers while my boat was flying 20 feet above the water."

Given Ray Brazier’s competitive history, it’s a wonder this 61-year-old Tennessean can walk without a cane.

In 2012 Brazier fished the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern and Northern Opens, but not the Central Opens, breaking a 20-year string in which Brazier fished every single Open and Invitational tournament on the Bassmaster schedule. 

However, it isn’t tournament fishing that has pummeled Brazier’s body. That was due, in part, to the many motocross races he competed in. Brazier endured the jolting jumps and inevitable crashes for nearly 20 years. He ran his last motocross race in 1992.

“That’s when I realized I was mortal,” Brazier quipped.

During that phase of Brazier’s life, he was sponsored by various motorcycle manufacturers including KTM, Yamaha and Honda.

“I was the number one rider in the southeastern U.S. for a long time,” Brazier said.

Over the next six years, Brazier competed in maritime endurance races from 200 to 550 miles in length. His division was open to 20-foot, V bottom hulls powered by souped-up 150-hp outboards.

The rules required that the boats weigh 1,800 pounds dry and carry 50 gallons of fuel. Brazier claims that his Allison would hit 95 mph with two drivers and a full fuel tank and 98 mph when running “light.”

“I could have topped 100 mph, but I couldn’t keep the gear case from blowing out,” Brazier said.

That might not sound too impressive, given that some of today’s bass boats exceed 80 mph. But to be competitive in maritime races, the boats must maintain high speeds in rough water, which bludgeons the drivers mercilessly.

The most brutal races that Brazier competed in were on the Mississippi River where he would have to negotiate eight to 10 sets of barge wakes. When a barge makes time pushing a heavy load it creates tall wakes.

As Brazier raced over those rollers, he would “slow down” to 70 mph. Each wake would launch his boat into the air like a water skier over a jump.

“I have, literally, passed other racers while my boat was flying 20 feet above the water,” Brazier said.