When hydroplane racing returns to Owensboro on Aug. 14-16, it will need about 100 volunteers working behind the scenes, Randy Lientz, the race director, told the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s board of directors this week.

Lientz, who owns American Hydroplane Events in Evansville, said he needs some volunteers now, more during the three days of racing and a few after the event.

People can contact him through the race’s website OwensboroHydrofair.com.

Lientz, who worked with the old Owensboro Hydrofair from 1976 to 1978 — its final year — said race teams are excited about Owensboro.

“No place has a venue like Owensboro,” he said. “The riverfront looks like it was designed for boat racing. I tell people from Seattle, Detroit and San Diego — wait till you come to Owensboro.”

Lientz said more than 50 race teams from across the United States and the Canadian province of Quebec are expected to be in Owensboro for the races.

The teams average 10 members each, he said.

Lientz said the U.S. Coast Guard will stop all river traffic by Owensboro from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. all three days for safety.

The “Roar on the River” event, as it’s being billed, will begin with boat testing on the river from 1 to 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 14.

That’s a Friday.

Lientz said testing normally ends at 5 p.m.

But it’s being extended for an extra 30 minutes to overlap with the start of Friday After 5 — “so people can see and hear what it’s all about,” he said. “All race teams will be at Friday After 5, signing autographs and talking with people.”

Seven classes of boats will be racing those three days with speeds hitting about 110 mph for the smaller boats to more than 170 mph for the largest — Grand Prix — boats, Lientz said.

He said he recommends that parents use earplugs for children during the Grand Prix events.

The CVB board said it will look for a sponsor for earplugs so they can be handed out free to spectators.

“We’ll be running 40 total heats — 20 each day — on Saturday and Sunday,” Lientz said. “There were only nine heats in 1978. But today, people want their entertainment to be quick. They don’t want to wait.”

The Kentucky Legend Pier behind the Owensboro Convention Center will be the start-finish line.

The pits will be in English Park.

The race course is 1.25 miles.

Boats run four laps — five miles.

The festival is free, but people can pay to sit on the Pier and on the bleachers in English Park.

The rest of English Park will have free admission, Lientz said.

He said two groups of nonracing boats will be used each day — one to keep other boats away from the race course and one to keep debris from drifting onto the course.

Mark Calitri, CVB president, said his staff is working with hotels to put together package deals for fans coming to Owensboro.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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