Inaugural Louisville Regatta Grand Prix realizes 20-year-old plan

Inaugural Louisville Regatta Grand Prix realizes 20-year-old plan

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An exciting new sporting event can be seen, and heard, in Louisville this weekend. At the Inaugural Louisville Regatta Grand Prix, boats will travel speeds up to 130 miles per hour as they zip across the Ohio River.

It's been about two decades since a regatta of power boats has raced in Louisville. Event organizers thought of Louisville as a race location 10 years ago. They say the economic downturn of 2008 stalled progress.

"I enjoy coming back to a venue that has long forgotten us," Chris Fairchild said.

Fairchild has raced tunnel boats for 30 years. He is a apart of the 30 teams from all over the county that will race August 19th and 20th.

Fairchild remembers the last time he reached speeds over 100 miles an hour on the Ohio River was in the mid-90s.

"The river front was very under developed," Fairchild said. "This year doesn't even compare."

Fairchild say the water front development, makes a great venue to race his Formula One tunnel boat.

"Most people think they are claustrophobic," Fairchild said.

The enclosed cock pit of the F1 boat is spacious and similar to NASCAR racing with a six point seat belt.

"The boats are very specifically designed to turn, and when they turn they can turn on a dime," Fairchild said.

Tunnel Boat Racers can hit 90 degree turns at 130 miles an hour and not flip the boat.  After a decade of planning, event organizers hope the crowds show up.

"With a new event sometime you knock it out of the park first yea," Mike Schriefer said. "Sometime it is a couple years of build up."

Schriefer is the president of International Outboard Grand Prix. IOGP made a three year commitment to the Louisville Regatta Grand Prix.

Fairchild says witnessing the races first hand will win over fans to come back year after year.

"You never get the true feel for what's going on TV like you do standing here," Fairchild said.

Heat Races will take place on Saturday which will determine qualifiers for the final races on Sunday afternoon. Races will take place on a roughly mile-long course.

For more information on ticket prices and the schedule, visit LouisvilleRegatta.com.

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