The Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau has planned the fourth annual Showdown on the Sabine for Sept. 24-25 at the Orange Boat Ramp located at 1000 Simmons Dr.
“This is a fantastic event for everyone,” said Darline Zavada, director of the Orange CVB. “It’s speed on the water plus they are bringing in Formula 1 boats, which go even faster across the water.”
Formula 2 boats have sped down the Sabine River in previous years, but according to John Schubert, who is the race director for Southern Professional Outboard Racing Tour (SPORT), Formula 1 boats are louder and faster.
“We are going to speed it up and put more boats on the water,” said Schubert. “You really have to see these boats in person. They are fast, loud and they perform sharp turns. It’s exciting.”
Schubert expects at least 55 boats from all over the country to make the trip to Orange and will compete in three classes — tri-hull, Formula 1 and Formula Light. “They will get up to speeds of 120 miles per hour and can accelerate quickly,” he said. “That’s fast for a boat that weighs 1,100 pounds, with driver, and has a 300 horsepower engine.”
The water track will be set up in the shape of an oval marked by buoys. Formula 1 testing begins at 8 a.m. on both days along with an autograph session at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday and 2:45 p.m. on Sunday. For a complete race-day schedule, view orangetexas.org.
The SPORT racing series travels across the country and this will be their second stop in Southeast Texas as they compete at the Thunder on the Neches in Port Neches every year in April.
Along with action on the water, there will be plenty of food and craft vendors. Also new this year is a petting zoo, pony rides, waterslides and bounce-houses. “It’s a small carnival type atmosphere,” added Zavada.
“People also like to bring canopies to set up, but we ask those who do set up to do so on the top of the levee so they aren’t blocking the views of others,” said Zavada. “We had more than 16,000 people in our first event in 2007 then had to cancel in 2008 because of Hurricane Ike. The attendance increased in 2009 with more than 20,000 people and last year we set a record with 22,000 people in a two-day span.”
And the best of all, admission is free as well as parking. Coolers, pets and bicycles will not be permitted. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and plenty of sunscreen. The event will be held rain or shine.
“The city does a great job of promoting and planning the event,” said Schubert. “The weather is supposed to be awesome so come out and watch these guys put on a show for you.”
To reach the boat ramp, follow Interstate 10 into Orange and take Exit 878; drive one mile until reaching event banners and signs that will then direct you.
For more information, call (409) 883-1011 or go online at orangetexas.org.