Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Al Copeland, Offshore Racer, Dies

Al Copeland, the colorful character known for his love of extreme speed in the boating world and spicy fried chicken in the fast-food world, died last weekend, only a few months after being diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his salivary glands. He was 64.

Just as his Popeyes Famous Chicken changed the way many folks ate, so, too, did his passion for offshore powerboat racing change the way many people viewed the sport. If you ever witnessed the races, you'll recall his screaming-yellow boats as they zoomed across the horizon. His Popeyes Offshore Racing Team met with success from the 1980's right through to the early 1990's and is reportedly to this day the team with the most wins. Some of the awards he won include the Harmsworth Trophy (a.k.a. Harmsworth Cup) and the National High Point championship (six times out of six tries).

Though Copeland had his share of serious accidents and made more than a few enemies with his speed-demon ways (there are stories of him flying past other boats at more than 100 mph), he also had his fans. If any of you encountered him or watched him race, share your experiences here.

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