JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — City and chamber of commerce leaders are keeping their pledge to honor a drag boat racer who lost his life during last year’s LakeFest.
But it’s also a tribute to all the racers.
The Marble Falls City Council approved the design of the tribute during its regular June 7 meeting.
The project came about after the death of racer Mike Fry, who was killed Aug. 9 on the last day of the 2015 LakeFest while he was competing.
Within days, the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce, city council and staff members promised to honor Fry and the racers who take part in the annual event.
The tribute, which will be built at the Lake Marble Falls dock located on Lakeshore Drive in Pecan Valley, fulfills that pledge.
“Mike Fry was an incredible racer,” said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mark McCary, who was the chamber president last year. “This is more memorable, more meaningful. That outramp is used exclusively by the racers. Aside from that, it’s virtually an unknown recreational dock on Lakeshore Drive. It gives a little bit of class to a piece of the park system that gets little attention. It tells part of our history and area.”
The marker also acknowledges all boat racers who have competed in LakeFest, part of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series, which celebrates its 25th anniversary Aug. 12-14.
Officials are calling it a “tribute” because “we all agree we didn’t want it to look like a gravesite,” McCary said.
McCary has been working closely with both the chamber and city hall on the language and design of the tribute for the past several months.
The marker will be 15 inches by 15 inches and cost $579. It will look very similar to other signs at the city’s parks.
Also included on the tribute is the 25-year anniversary logo of LakeFest.
“It’s the first use of the logo on anything official,” McCary said.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Robert Moss has said his staff are looking at ways to improve that part of the park system, and this tribute is the first step.
While the tribute is expected to be completed long before the start of LakeFest, city and chamber leaders have indicated they’d like to have a formal dedication during the racers barbecue the evening of Aug. 11, before the start of races.
“We’d like to lay a wreath (in the water),” McCary said. “We’re letting racers know we’re remembering Mike Fry and doing something as classy as we can.”
For McCary, the tribute recognizes that racers are willing to take part in an event for the entertainment and enjoyment of spectators and that hundreds of racers have been able to safely compete at LakeFest.
“It’s important to the city and chamber because it provides healing … (after an incident) that happened last year,” he said. “It’s important to the racers to let them know we’re honoring them and their passion for a sport that’s dangerous, and we respect that risk they take.”