Tastin’ for the racing grows in 13th year

June 2, 2009

By David Hayes

Wally Johnson, driver of the E-98 Agitator, of Helena, Mont., is guided by his pit crew to the dock after winning the 5-litre boat final during last year’s Tastin' n Racin' festival at Lake Sammamish State Park. File

Wally Johnson, driver of the E-98 Agitator, of Helena, Mont., is guided by his pit crew to the dock after winning the 5-litre boat final during last year’s Tastin' n Racin' festival at Lake Sammamish State Park. File

Christine Courtright recalled that when the idea was first floated to host a festival on Lake Sammamish, featuring hydroplane racing boats, it was given little chance to succeed.

“We were actually told by a gentleman who also does a bunch of festivals in Seattle we were nuts,” said Courtright, executive director of Tastin’ n Racin’.

Well, the committee must have hit upon something right, because the festival returns for its 13th year this weekend, bigger than ever. Courtright said it’s hard to name another festival that features hydroplane races, a classic car show, live entertainment, arts and crafts booths, a carnival with rides and a “hot rod” boat show, all for $10 or less.

The only downside, she admitted, is the festival is very weather driven as it takes place the first weekend in June, rain or shine. Constant drizzle last year affected attendance, but Courtright said she was surprised by how little.

“We were floored by the amount that came out, even with the crappy weather,” she said.

Attendance was more than 37,000 last year, which she said held its own to 2007’s figure, which topped 45,000. With good weather forecast into the foreseeable future, she’s expecting good things this year, especially with the lineup.

The racing docket includes the following categories:

1.5 hydro

2.5 modified hydro

2.5 hydro

5-litre hydro

National Mod

Grand National hydro

Grand Prix hydroplanes

Pro stock and super stock flatbottoms

Unlimited turbine and vintage hydro

Inboard vintage hydros and flats

Personal watercraft series

Courtright said in the 1950s and ’60s, boat racing was just about the only gig in town, and everyone knew their boats. But with the rise of the other four major sports since, it has taken some effort to get the hydros back out in front of the community’s consciousness.

“It is truly exciting to see, side by side, today’s 32-foot unlimited sitting next to a 10-foot vintage hydro,” she said. “The fans love it, and even the racers love seeing all the boats from the other categories.”

With good weather, Courtright said she also expects more vendors signing up than they have spaces and as many as 350 classic hot rods for the car show.

The hot rod boat show is also growing in popularity. As an American Power Boat Association sanctioned event, fans of the hydro can enter a souped up flat bottom jet boat into their own event.

“These boats are painted up beautiful and gives the fans a way to show themselves off,” Courtright added.

With so much to see and do in one weekend at Lake Sammamish, it’s no wonder Courtright sees Tastin’ n Racin’ as one of the best bangs for your buck.

If you go

June 5

4:30-7:30 p.m. Expertease (Top 40, classic rock)

June 6

11 a.m. — Everyday Jones (soul, folk, pop)

12:30 p.m. — Loud Mouth Blonde (Top 40, classic rock)

2 p.m. — Budokan (Cheap Trick tribute)

3:30 p.m. — Chrome Molly (AC/DC tribute)

5 p.m. — Soulstice (Fleetwood Mac tribute)

6:30 p.m. — The Grand Delusion (Styx tribute)

June 7

11 a.m. — Shane Cobane (Elvis tribute)

12:30 p.m. — Notorious Sensation (80s)

2 p.m. — Petty Thief (Tom Petty tribute)

3:30 p.m. — Hi Watt (current & classic rock)

5 p.m. — Slacker (classic rock)

If you go

13th annual Tastin’ n Racin’

9:30-7 p.m. June 6

9:30-6 p.m. June 7

Lake Sammamish State Park

General admission $10, children 6-16 and seniors $5, 5 and under free

www.tastinracin.com

Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237, or dhayes@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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