(Orange, Texas)

Local News

September 19, 2010

Boat races come back this weekend

ORANGE — The Showdown on the Sabine boat race is back and it looks to be better than ever.

The Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau welcomes the SPORT Racing Tour back to Orange as the annual Showdown on the Sabine 2010 Tunnel Boat Races roar up and down the Sabine River on Saturday, Sept. 25, and Sunday, Sept. 26 at the City of Orange Boat Ramp off Simmons Drive.

Admission is free all weekend long for everyone. However, as always, no pets, bicycles or coolers will be allowed at the event. Guests are encouraged to bring law chairs and sunscreen, or sit on the levee of the river and enjoy the racing events.

All the action that area residents and boat racing fans have come to enjoy and expect returns again for another thrilling weekend.

According to Darline Zavada, administrator of the Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau, as many as 60 racers will attend the racing event this year as three classifications of boats — SST 45, SST 120 and Tri-hull — travel up to 120 mph around the course of the Sabine River.

“Every year the races just seem to get better and better,” Zavada said. “We had an amazing crowd last year and the races were just fantastic. It takes a while to really build up and event like this, but we feel we are on the right track.”

Boat testing begins at 9 a.m., each day, and the racing action gets underway at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25, and at noon, Sunday, Sept. 26. The fun lasts until 6 p.m. each day.

What makes this year even more entertaining is the addition of several new events and features, and most are aimed at children.

A new event in this year’s competition is the J-Hydro boat races, which features 12-year-old competitors whirling around the river in their high-powered boats.

Also, the drivers were in high demand with fans last year, especially children, so the CVB has arranged an autograph session each day.

“This is something we felt we needed to add this year, and the drivers were happy to do it,” Zavada said. “It’s free of charge each day and we’ll have poster size prints available for the drivers to sign.”

Autograph sessions are at 3 p.m., Saturday, and 2:15 p.m., Sunday.

There will also be a race boat available for children to view and take a free photograph inside, which will be mailed to parents, and kid games will be part of the fun too.

The race not only provides plenty of fun and entertainment for those in attendance, but it also provides a boost to the local economy with the number of people in town, as well as racers, their crew and family with hotel stays, meals at restaurants, fuel and necessities.

“We have a lot drivers from the region who come here to participate, but most of the drivers are from out of state,” Zavada explained. “Drivers come from Illinois, Florida and places like Ohio. Some of them stay in their own vehicles, but others stay in our local hotels too.”

Zavada said there is not an exact figure from the number of rooms rented at area hotels in previous years, but that is one thing the CVB is hoping to gather more information on this time around and for future use.

Along with the racing and free events, there is also plenty of food and cold beverages to go around, which should only make the Showdown on the Sabine weekend that much better.

“It really is a lot of fun to watch,” Zavada said. “That’s why it seems to be growing every year.”

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