Organizers still seeking sponsors, volunteers for hydro races

Organizers of an Oak Harbor hydroplane race event are hoping more volunteers, vendors and sponsors step up.

Organizers of an Oak Harbor hydroplane race event are hoping more volunteers, vendors and sponsors step up.

Craig McKenzie and his team at Keller Williams Whidbey offered to organize the event three months ago.

The previous organizer opted not to hold the event, partly because the tide schedule put the best race weekend the same time as two other Oak Harbor events.

McKenzie said he wanted to keep the tradition of hydroplane racing for the community.

Unlike the previous event, this one — called Hydros for Heroes — is a nonprofit with proceeds benefiting the Rotary Club of Oak Harbor.

In doing so, McKenzie said he assumed the financial risk if enough money isn’t raised to hold the event.

The hydroplane races are scheduled for Aug. 13-14, the same weekend as the car show and Pigfest in Oak Harbor and Coupeville Arts & Crafts Festival.

McKenzie said he knew it would be tough to get an event like this one organized in a short period of time.

And it has been.

“We’ve been working day and night on this,” he said.

So far, he said he’s secured around $20,000 in sponsorships, among them the Whidbey News-Times.

That’s enough to cover the cost of running the event, but McKenzie would like to raise additional money to give back to Rotary, which gives out college scholarships and runs a program that sends children who need it home with backpacks stuffed with food.

Members of Rotary are assisting with the event, but he needs more people willing to help at the event.

Attracting vendors also is a challenge with other local events competing for vendors.

Hydros for Heroes is meant to highlight heroes in the local community, such as personnel at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, police and firefighters, he said.

Nearly 50 boats have committed from Seattle Drag and Ski Sprint Boats, McKenzie said, which put the race on the American Power Boat Association schedule.

Oak Harbor is a favorite spot for racers and their supporters because it has one of the few saltwater courses and it’s protected from high winds.

The event starts Friday, Aug. 12 with a driver and team dinner at Louie G’s Pizza in Oak Harbor scheduled for 6-9 p.m.

On race days that weekend, tailgaters can park along the water side of Pioneer Way between Midway Boulevard and Regatta Drive. The street will still be open to traffic.

People can get a closer view of the hydros being lowered into the water at Flinstone Park on the eastern portion of Bayshore Drive.

That’s also the area where vendors will set up and a beer garden will operate.

Event hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14. For a schedule of events as well as information on how to help, go online to