From the Derby Festival Press Office:
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Excellent weather conditions enabled 27 balloons to take off in the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Rush Hour Race this morning. This is the seventh year for the drive-time race event, which was added to the Festival's BalloonFest schedule in 2005. The competition got underway at 7 AM at Bowman Field, as the wind took the balloons east.
The 27 "Hound" balloons took off from Bowman Field in "chase" of the "Hare" – U.S. Bank balloon, piloted by Scott McClinton. McClinton flew for about 30 minutes before landing at the University of Louisville's Shelby Campus at Hurstbourne Parkway and Taylorsville Road. Winds were a bit tricky and only two of the pilots made a measurable toss of their bag of Kentucky bluegrass seed near the target, a giant vinyl "X."
With two races planned for the weekend, the overall winner will be chosen based on a points system. Based on this morning's race, the Kentucky National Guard Balloon, piloted by Bill Smith, is the front runner. Smith came within 121 feet of the target laid out by race sponsor and hare balloon U.S. Bank and scored 948 points.
PLACE BALLOON PILOT DISTANCE RESULTS:
Kentucky National Guard Bill Smith 121 feet, 9 inches 948 points
Central American Airways Peyton Hoge 134 feet, 2 inches 983 points
The U.S. Bank Great Balloon Tour and Glimmer events were canceled Thursday due to high winds and rain. The remaining events on the U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest schedule include the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glow at 9 p.m. tonight and the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race at 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 30. The Balloon Glow will feature free valet bicycle parking at the venue entrance off Pee Wee Reese Road from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Parking for the Glow is $5 (cash only). The parking entrance for the Glow and Race is off of Cannons Lane. On Saturday morning, the balloons will take flight in the oldest portion of the balloon events, the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race.