RAVENSWOOD - Powerboat racing at the Riverfront Park, a cornerstone of the Ohio River Festival’s early years in the 1970s and 1980s, is returning this summer when the festival on the river is resurrected this week (August 4-7), thanks to sponsor Constellium Rolled Products-Ravenswood.

Festival chairman Lucy Harbert and her committee are elated.

“When we decided to bring the Ohio River Festival back, everyone was talking about the boat races. We’re so thankful that Buddy (Stemple) and Constellium has stepped up as the sponsor what was always a huge part of our festival activities on the river,” said Harbert. “Everyone is very excited.” 

The Constellium Ohio River Grand Prix powerboat racing event scheduled for August 6-7 (1-3 p.m. each day) at Ravenswood Riverfront Park will crown the North East Division Champion. The American Power Boat Association, (APBA), sanctioning body for all boat racing in the U.S., has named Ravenswood as host of the sport’s 2016 North East Division Championship. The region includes West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and all the way up to Maine, although racers from other areas may also compete.

Up  until 2016, the North East Divisional Championship had been regularly been hosted as part of the Records Run in New Martinsville, WV. In January, Powerboat Nationals, LLC applied and was granted hosting rights to the event and Ravenswood was voted to receive the race title designation during the APBA’s annual meeting in Chicago.

SST-60 and SST-120 outboard tunnel boats will take part in the races at Ravenswood. SST-60s boast a 100HP outboard engine producing speeds up to 80 miles per hour. SST-120s are powered by V-6 outboard engines producing more than 200HP and top speeds nearing 115 miles per hour. Both classes will race on a three-quarter mile oval course on the Ohio River at the Ravenswood Riverfront Park.

Powerboat Nationals, out of the Central Ohio area, will be conducting two events in the area.... The North American Championships in Huntington, WV July 23-24 and The North East Divisional Championship in Ravenswood, WV August 6-7… with the final race of the season taking place on Labor Day Weekend, The “Super Bowl” of Boat Racing, the 2016 National Championship races hosted in Shreveport, Louisiana.

“We are honored to be able to bring Powerboat Nationals racing to Ravenswood in 2016,” said Powerboat Nationals Race Director Dan Bunting. “Our experiences with the Ravenswood Ohio River Festival Committee and people at Constellium have been wonderful, and we look forward to a very successful relationship and bringing the regatta  back to Ravenswood for many years to come.”

Bunting said he has visited the Riverfront Park recently to view the Ohio River pool where the three-quarter mile course will be laid out below the Riverfront Park. In the past, powerboat racers hailed the river at Ravenswood as a great natural racing venue. The riverfront park also acts as a natural amphitheater with plenty of hillside seating overlooking the pool where a Corps of Engineers lock dam once stood and operated. 

“I’ve talked to some racers who competed there in the past and said it’s a very good site,” said Bunting. “They’re very excited to be returning to Ravenswood.”

More information is available by calling Ravenswood Ohio River Festival Chairman Lucy Harbert at 304-273-2293 or visiting the website www.PowerboatNationals.com