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Fast boats and powerful engines for Father's Day
Tony Garrison steps off the back of one of the racing boats on display Sunday at Stotler Racing Engines after getting a close look at the interior of the boat. - photo by Tom Reed

Ralph Scharle of Buford had his pick of Father’s Day outings.

"I wanted to see boats and engines and support a good cause," he said as his teenage children, Maggie and Martin, were getting set to play a game of air hockey.

He packed up the family and headed to Stotler Racing Engines, which is off Hilton Way in Gainesville, for an event billed as "Family Fun Day," featuring games, inflatables, boats and food.

The company, which moved to Gainesville from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., one year ago, opened its doors Sunday for families and customers to check out speedboats housed there.

But it also held the event to raise money for Cumming-based Save the’s Horse Rescue, Relief and Retirement Fund.

Visitors could check out Stotler’s garage, displaying several engines and two racing boats.

They could get a close-up look at a high-powered Huey helicopter engine in one of the boats or climb a set of stairs to peek inside the cockpit of another of the sleek vessels.

A couple of trophies were on display in front of Miss Geico Racing’s bright yellow-green boat.

"The top speed on this particular one is about 190 mph," said Thomas Wallace, team manager. "She’s one of our babies. ... We’re a three-time world championship team and we’re daring anyone to knock us off."

Wallace is gearing up for a race over the July Fourth holiday in Sarasota, Fla.

Herb Stotler, the company’s owner and engine builder, said the decision to move to Gainesville was based on finding a more suitable location.

"We race in the Northern states and Canada even, so logistically this was better for us," he said. "We (looked) around (for sites). We went to North Carolina. We knew we wanted to be on a lake."

Now that it has settled near Lake Lanier, Stotler Racing is looking to expand its focus some.

"We’re looking to do stuff for the lake, for people who have pleasure boats ... who may want to do some performance with them," said Herb’s wife, Sandra Stotler, who handles marketing and promotions for the business.

"And maintain them too," he added.

"We’d also like to bring a race to Lake Lanier," Sandra Stotler said. "... Two hundred thousand folks here — that could bring some money to the economy."

Scharle said his family enjoyed Sunday’s event.

"It’s great to have this in the area," he said of the speedboat business. "It’s a good network of people and they’re always doing something charitable."

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