A hydroplane race in Louisville seems to make perfect sense [Sports]

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By Josh Cook

The Louisville riverfront seems perfect for some sort of boat race.

And it's not just me who thinks that.

H1 Unlimited Hydroplane driver Brian Perkins told me over the weekend at the 60th annual Madison (Ind.) Regatta that he believes that Louisville would be a perfect place for one of the ABRA (American Boat Racing Association) races.

“I think you’d have an enormous crowd draw and you’d have a boost to the economy,” said Perkins, who flies into Louisville every year he's been to the Madison Regatta.

There are five stops on the ABRA H1 Unlimited schedule this season. Madison was the first, Detroit is the next one followed by Tri-Cities in Washington state, Seattle and Doha, Qatar.

“I know in Seattle it’s a huge boost in the economy, and I know this weekend makes Madison,” said Perkins, a Seattle-area native who drives the U-21 Miss Albert Lee Appliance. “The city is definitely where it’s at."

Last season there were six stops on the ABRA schedule, but the Thunder on the Ohio is Evansville, Ind. was discontinued. With wonderful Waterfront Park, as well as ample viewing areas across the Ohio River, Louisville seems like a perfect place for an H1 Unlimited Hydroplane race. I've even got the perfect day for it - Thunder Over Louisville. You could have the preliminaries on Friday, then have the final heats on Saturday afternoon either before the air show, or in between the air show and the fireworks. Plus you'd already have a huge crowd of tens of thousands of people down there.

Apparently the Greater Louisville Sports Commission (GLSC) has tried to lure such races to the city, to no avail though.

"There have been several attempts by various promoters to bring boat racing back to Louisville," said Greg Fante, Director of Sports Development for the GLSC. "We have specifically worked with both the ABRA and the Champ Boat Series in recent years. You ask about the Unlimited H1 Hydroplane schedule and as with any sport like this the cost and risk to the promoter is very high and is something they must be willing to take. Both of the groups we have worked with have struggled to find the needed financial resources to produce and sustain their events here in Louisville. The Sports Commission is always looking for promoters who would like  a opportunity like this and who has the financial resources to produce a successful race here in our city. We agree that Waterfront Park would be a great venue for this type of event and hopefully one day will be used for multiple forms of boat racing." 

A title sponsor, Lucas Oil stepped up for the Madison Regatta, would likely be a great help in landing a race too.

But you can't deny that the Louisville riverfront would be an ideal place for a hydroplane race.

"You could easily do this (in Louisville), no problem,” Perkins told me. 

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