Started in the early 2000s to celebrate the Donzi Marine Classic series of single-engine sportboats—and later single-engine models from Cigarette Racing Team—the Awakening Of The Horses owners rendezvous May 18-20 will run for the first time on Northern Tennessee's Norris Lake. That’s the word from Byron Scholle, one of the nonprofit event's longtime organizers.
Norris Lake will host the annual Awakening Of The Horses event next weekend.
“After a very successful 16-year run at Lake Cumberland (Ky.), we have decided to move the event to Norris Lake,” said Scholle, who lives in Cincinnati. “The event has drawn folks from as far away as Oregon, Michigan and New England, and we have regulars come up from Texas and Florida every year. At its peak we probably had 50-plus boats. The last couple of years we have trended in the high teens. With the move to Norris Lake it looks like we're going to have a solid 25 to 30 boats again this year.”
Mostly based in Ohio, the original founders communicated—and in many cases got to know one another—through the Donzi.net online community, according to 41-year-old Scholle.
“The intent of AOTH was to celebrate the Donzi classic,” he said. “We started with a handful of stock 16s and 18s and a couple of 22s. As we got into the mid 2000s, folks started upgrading and customizing their boats—myself included. In 2004, I showed up in a 1994 Donzi 22 classic with a 540-cubic-inch custom motor.”
Scholle eventually met fellow Ohioan Mike Lipschutz, the brother of veteran Miami-based Cigarette dealer Phil Lipschutz and the owner of two immaculate 20-foot Cigarette sportboats, and they became friends. That led to the event's inclusion of single-engine vintage Cigarettes.
In its best years, the event attracted more than 50 boats.
Beyond reportedly attracting some of the largest fleets of Donzi Classics and small Cigarettes in the same place at the same time, the Awakening Of The Horses event has grown to become a reunion of friends and extended family members who attend year after year.
“Initially, Awakening Of The Horses celebrated the boats,” said Scholle. “But now the primary interests for those who attend are family and friends and the bonds they forged through these events. It’s also interesting to note that the majority of the boat owners are father-son or father-daughter combinations.”