2016 Madison Regatta Festival Preview

Grand National class boats to complement Unlimited race action

This year’s Madison Regatta will give race fans even more action on the Ohio River on July 1-3 with the arrival of two classes of limited race boats to compete in between the H1 Unlimited hydroplane races. Up to nine Grand Nationals and nine Grand National Modified class boats are expected to participate in American Powerboat Association-sponsored heat races, according to Madison Regatta President Joe Hertz.
By having these smaller class boats, we will be able to give our fans plenty of racing action all weekend long,” Hertz said. “We often hear people say there is not enough action on the water, so this should help address that.”
The Madison Regatta kicks off the H1 Unlimiteds 2016 race season and marks the 66th year of Unlimited hydroplane racing in Madison. Local fans are eagerly awaiting the battles among these thundering 200-mph-plus competitors to cheer on the hometown team (reigning Gold Cup and H1 Unlimited Driver’s and High Points Champion) Jimmy Shane and the HomeStreet Bank-Miss Madison go against a strong field of contenders.
Eight the world’s fastest race boats are ready to race deck-to-deck along the Bill Cantrell Memorial Race Course, with qualifying set for Friday, and multiple heats scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, leading up to the coveted Indiana Governor’s Cup final heat set for 5 p.m. Sunday, July 3.
The addition of these smaller class boats, along with eight Unlimiteds expected to compete in Madison, has Regatta officials excited about making up for last year, when bad weather and high water forced the cancellation of competition racing altogether. Regatta Site Manager Crystal McHargue said that despite the cancellation last year, officials are very happy that the local race sponsors “have stuck with us for this year. It means more than you can imagine.”
Regatta officials also have been excited to announce in May two new major race sponsors for this year – MainSource Bank as the title sponsor and Belterra Casino & Resort as the presenting sponsor. Combined, the dual sponsorship has gone a long way to boost spirits and coffers of the racing organization as it attempts to gain its footing from a financial losses last year.
“It is extremely energizing to have two of the most respected corporate brands in our area come on board to support this year’s Madison Regatta,” Hertz said. “The exceptional support of
MainSource Bank as title sponsor and Belterra Casino as presenting sponsor will allow our organization to set an even higher standard for this and subsequent years’ events.”
Hertz credited the work of former Madison resident Matt Wells of Vault Sports & Entertainment in Indianapolis for securing the sponsorships. Belterra is a returning sponsor of the event, having served as its title sponsor about 10 years ago and as an associate sponsor several times since then.
Despite securing the two sponsors and retaining many of its regular local sponsors, Regatta treasurer Jeff Chandler said at the Regatta’s June 15 weekly meeting, “Even though we have a title sponsor and presenting sponsor, money is still tight, but it’s coming in.” He said that they have sold out of spaces for food vendors and commercial vendors for the upcoming event.
Hertz reiterated, “I think it’s excellent that we have such great sponsorship. It’s pretty impressive considering the kind of year we had last year, and to come back like this is terrific.”
McHargue reported that the VIP tents were sold out, and that she expected tarp spaces to go quickly. They went on sale to the public on June 16. “Wristband sales are going great in the office,” she said.
Hertz said the festival lineup is action packed, and that he hoped to announce that an Air Force flyover “of some kind” was in the works.
Festival chair Kim Washer announced that the Regatta Golf Scramble had been changed from a 9 a.m. start on June 21 to 11:30 a.m. at Belterra Casino’s golf course. She also announced that the Indianapolis Police Motorcycle Drill Team is returning to participate in the Madison Regatta Parade after several years of absence. “They are very popular and a big draw,” she said, “so we are very happy to have them back.”
Testing and qualifying occur on Friday, July 1, with the popular “Pole Position” Unlimited Qualifications set between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2, brings more testing in the morning, a driver’s autograph session midday, with the first sets of unlimited heat racing at 1:55 p.m. and 3 p.m. Heat racing continues all day Sunday, July 3, leading up to the final heat for the Indiana Governor’s Cup.
The festival kicks off Saturday, June 25, with the Little Miss, Pre-Teen and Teen pageants and continues right up until Sunday’s race card. The Madison Regatta Kick-Off Party has become a popular event and is scheduled for noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, June 26, at Fireman’s Park on Vaughn Drive and Jefferson Street. This year’s party will feature Scotty V Karaoke and two bands, Country Bourne and Crossfire, as well as many family activities.
The Madison Regatta Scholarship Pageant is set for 6 p.m. Monday, June 27, at the Madison Consolidated High School Auditorium, where the Regatta Queen will be crowned from eight contestants. The event is organized by the Xi Beta Upsilon Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. This year a new award category has been added to the line up that the audience judges, the “People’s Choice Award.” Containers with each of the girls’ photos will be placed in the lobby area. Pageant attendees can vote for their choice with money, cash or check, through the entertainment time. Winner of the Peoples’ Choice Award is based solely on funds collected the night of the pageant.
 Totals will be tallied and the winner will be announced when the queen is crowned. The People’s Choice winner will be invited to participate in all of the activities that the queen and her court participate in throughout Regatta week. 
Tickets to the event are $10 at the door. All proceeds from the pageant support charitable projects as designated by Xi Beta Upsilon throughout the year. 
A very popular event occurring Saturday night is the Fireworks Spectacular, co-sponsored by the American Legion Post No. 9, the City of Madison Indiana, and the Jefferson County Board of Tourism. The same company that conducts the world famous “Thunder Over Louisville” will be back to present the fireworks.
During the festival week there will be plenty of live music. The Music on the River program at Fireman’s Park kicks off on Wednesday, June 29 and continues through Saturday night, following the fireworks. The Music on the River program for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday require a Madison Regatta admission wristband or a $5 race boat button that can be bought at the gate. Saturday night activities are free of charge.
On Thursday, June 30, the “Rockin’ on the Riverfront” party is planned from 6-11 p.m., at the Regatta VIP tent on the riverfront, featuring the Jimmy Davis Band. Tickets are $5 in addition to a wristband.
More activities during Regatta Weekend include the Madison Regatta Parade, two days of air shows by aerobatic pilot Cliff Robinson, with a twilight air show Saturday evening before the fireworks, the driver’s autograph sessions on Saturday and Sunday, food and commercial vendors, and the Madison Courier Firecracker 10K Run and Walk, set for Saturday morning. This year’s parade grand marshals are Dave & Whitney, a singing duo from the area. The couple is Dave Campbell of Seymour, Ind., and Whitney (Hamilton) Campbell of Hanover, Ind.
Admission Wristbands to the Madison Regatta are $20 through Sunday, June 26, then $30 after Sunday. They can be purchased by calling the Regatta office at (812) 274-0400 or visiting www.MadisonRegatta.com. They are also available at the gate during the event. An admission wristband is required for daytime access to Vaughn Drive and the riverfront from 6 a.m. Friday until after the final race on Sunday. Children 10 and under are free.

Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email: info@RoundAbout.bz.

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