The City of Owensboro is expected to announce a hydroplane racing event Wednesday afternoon.

Mayor Tom Watson confirmed the announcement will be at 2 p.m. at the Owensboro Convention Center.

City Commissioner Larry Maglinger, a native of Owensboro, was excited about the event coming to town. He's a fan of hydroplane racing because he is a fan of both racing and boating, he said.

"I was probably at every one of the hydroplane races in the 70s and I've been a fan ever since," he said.

Hydroplane racing hasn't been an event in Owensboro since 1979. From 1969 through 1978, the city hosted the Owensboro Regatta, which drew about 50,000 people with some estimates ranging upward of 100,000. By the time it ended, the event was called Hydrofair and crowd attendance was plummeting. There were numerous attempts to bring back the event between 1979 and the present day, but none materialized.

The hydroplane races are scheduled to replace the annual Owensboro Air Show, which has been an annual occurrence since 2012. The inaugural air show coincided with the grand opening of the redesigned Smothers Park on Aug. 25, 2012. Its success prompted the city to make it an annual event.

The Owensboro Air Show will return in 2021 with the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels headlining the event. The group previously came to the city in 2018 and attracted about 70,000 people over the course of three days.

After it was announced that the air show would be non-existent in 2020, Maglinger suggested bringing back the hydroplane races. The racing will be better than the races of 40 years ago, including the potential of up to 50 boats being showcased at the event, he said. The races will feature six to eight boats per race with races lasting about 15 to 20 minutes. The boats will be stationed at English Park, he said.

Maglinger expected national attention on Wednesday's press conference, primarily from hydroplane enthusiasts. The races will be sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association and will take place on a Friday and Saturday in August, he said.

"It's going to be fun to be able to have a lot of new people exposed to hydroplane racing," he said.

Trey Crumbie, 270-691-7297, tcrumbie@messenger-inquirer.com

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