OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) The Owensboro riverfront is sounding a little louder than usual today as the HydroFair returns.
This is the second year for the event after hydroplane boat races moved to Owesnboro from Evansville.
The teams have been at English Park all day preparing for today’s testing period. Organizers, drivers and fans hope conditions are much more favorable this year than they were last year.
The sounds, and sights of hydroplane boats testing their engines, and testing the course, drew some attention through the afternoon.
“We just wanted to come down and see how many were down here,” said Johnny Meredith of Owensboro.
“I’m tickled to death that they have it so close to the Tri-State area,” adds Monte Graham of Boonville, Ind.
Organizers say at least fifty teams, including some from as far away as Canada and New Zealand, are expected to compete this weekend. Last year’s event was hit by delays due to debris on the river and higher than usual river levels. The races left Evansville due to poor attendance. Owensboro Director of Public Events Tim Ross says while last year’s attendance was not as big as hoped, people are still expressing interest in the races and the history of hydroplane boat racing.
“There’s a lot of people that like racing. They remember the history of hydroplanes here. There’s a lot of excitement for it. We have a lot of folks in town. With the teams, there’s a lot of people looking at boats around town that got here earlier this week, so we’re expecting a good crowd,” he said.
Ross also says they’ve brought in more debris boats to catch any driftwood or debris on the river before it reaches the course.
“Mother Nature was kind of our biggest hurdle,” says Andrew Tate, who won last year’s GP division, winning the title in their hydroplane boat known as Miss Owensboro.
“It’s hard to tell until you get out there, but everyone says it’s an improvement from last year, and we look forward to showing owensboro what we’re really about here,” says Tate.
Racers are competing not just for points for the APBA championship this year, but some teams can also get points here as part of Canada’s Hydroplane Racing League. Qualifying starts tomorrow morning, while the races are scheduled for Sunday.
(This story was originally published on August 19, 2022)