Sumter County Council Tuesday evening recognized a Sumterite who has made a name for himself as a champion powerboat racer.
Brent Dillard, 32, received a proclamation from Sumter County Council for his accomplishments that are now known throughout the international powerboat racing community.
Council Chairman James T. McCain Jr. said was now time to recognize “a gentleman who travels around the world racing powerboats.”
Brent’s father Steven Dillard told council members that his son received a proclamation from then Gov. David Beasley for being a national champion at 14-years-old following a race in New York.
Since then, his son has won nine national championships, five North American championships and last year decided to race overseas to compete against 46 drivers representing 18 countries. As the only American driver, Brent Dillard finished fifth in the world last year, he said, missing third place by two points.
“I just want to thank you for being here,” Brent Dillard said to council members.
He thanked his sponsor, Dillard Financial, for being able to race abroad and said he can’t wait for the upcoming season.
Councilman Artie Baker asked a question about a short video compilation of Dillard’s racing feats.
“Is that a boat or an airplane?,” Baker asked, drawing laughter.
Brent Dillard said in a straight line, “it’s designed to fly like an airplane but not take off. So the less amount of boat you have in the water, the faster you’re going to go.”
Baker asked how he controls it.
“You don’t really control it on the straightaway,” he said, but you just hope it doesn’t fly or flip.
It’s possible to pull six Gs in turns, he said, referring to gravitational force, and his boat reaches speeds upwards of 120 mph. The cockpit is protected and there’s air bags on the exterior in the event the boat turns over.
Baker said Dillard is “a courageous person.”
McCain said he doesn’t imagine “they have brakes on that boat,” drawing laughter.
Councilman Charles Edens asked the Dillards where they were based out of, and Steve Dillard said Sumter. The overseas team is located in Italy, he said, and they just returned following two weeks of training there.
Brent Dillard said he also just raced in Saudi Arabia.
McCain said council members had just recognized rising basketball star Ja Morant and Dillard has “already made it.”
“We’re looking forward to more things from you,” McCain added.
(More information about Brent Dillard: http://dillardracing.net/home/)