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Vintage Sound, Speed, And Spray Return To New Martinsville

June 6, 2018
Wetzel Chronicle

New Martinsville, W.Va. - The past will come alive as vintage and classic race boats of bygone eras return to the old "Magnolia Yacht Club" behind Dos Harmonos Restaurant in New Martinsville, W.Va. for the second annual "Speed and Spray on Father's Day," New Martinsville Vintage Regatta. For 60 years New Martinsville was a major stop for American Power Boat Association inboard hydroplanes, and along with Wheeling, are major stops on the vintage race boat circuit. Over 30 beautifully restored vintage and classic race boats will be running demonstration laps on an 11/4 mile oval course on the beautiful Ohio River. In addition to seeing and hearing these unique and beautiful boats run, spectators are invited to view them up-close and talk to the drivers in the pit area on both Saturday and Sunday. The Regatta will be running large heats of the inboard and outboard APBA vintage classes from the 13 foot 1 litre boats to the crowd favorite 7 litre hydros with speeds approaching 130 MPH.The sights and sounds will be just magnificent and admission is free, to the June 16-17 event. Boats will be in the water at 10 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday, so come join all the fun!

Vintage race boats, built between 1945 and 1985 and having open cockpits, do not meet today's racing safety standards. The APBA restricts their use to demonstration laps but the "daredevil" drivers will be running their boats to near racing speeds. Envision 4-6 boats running in the river with the sound and spray of bygone years. Consider it a cruise-in on steroids.

"From 1938 until nearly the end of the 20th century, New Martinsville enjoyed a special place in the culture of America," said Penny Morris, President of the New Martinsville Vintage Regatta. "New Martinsville was one of the premier sites for national competition in the sport of hydroplane racing." Several generations grew up in New Martinsville identifying with their favorite boats and racers. In the Regattas' heyday the New Your Times reported that over 60,000 people would line the Ohio River shores to watch the races."

Article Photos

The New Martinsville Vintage Regatta will bring excitement to the river June 16-17.

"In the early autumn every year, the fastest boats and the best drivers came to the waters of the Ohio River adjacent to this town to compete for speed records in all categories and the chance to be named one of the best drivers in America," said Morris. "In an effort to preserve and, once again, bring to life this history, a small group of committed individuals bring vintage hydroplanes back to the local waters and reenact the glory of the bygone days." Known as "The fastest fresh water course in the world," over 50 world records have been set on the New Martinsville course.

Former New Martinsville resident and current vintage boat driver Dr. Dave Kappel of Wheeling recognizes the importance of the event to the community. Having grown up around the Regatta, Kappel said "It's really in our sense of place and time. This was a part of our growing up. It's a part of our memory, and I am very delighted and enthusiastic to be helping bring some of this back to New Martinsville - to folks that remember and younger people who haven't been exposed to the old boats."

All inboard, and several outboard racing classes - including the crowd favorite 7 litre boats, will be running. Registrations have already been received from owners in Ontario, Canada, Bloomington, Ind. and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. And the interest in the event is high within the vintage boat community.

So round up your lawn chairs. The free event will take place Father's Day weekend June 16-17 on the grounds of the old Magnolia Yacht Club, in New Martinsville. Spectators will see up to 70-year-old speed boats run course laps at speeds up to 130 MPH. Boats will be in the water at 10 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday. To learn more, visit the "New Martinsville Vintage Regatta" on Facebook.



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