Fastest thing on no wheels

Fastest thing on no wheels

Formula 1 speedboats will once again be racing down the Sabine River in Orange at speeds of more than 115 mph at the eighth annual Showdown on the Sabine, which covers three days beginning Friday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 20, at the City of Orange Boat Ramp at 1000 Simmons Drive.

This year’s event will include food and craft booths, an adult beverage booth and pit passes to enter the race area, and several children’s activities. Admission is free, as well as parking.

According to the Orange Convention & Visitors Bureau, there are about 65 staff and volunteers who work the event that has seen more than 10,000 people attend over three days.

Drivers participating in the Southern Professional Outboard Racing Tour will come from Louisiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan and, of course, Texas to try to capture the Showdown on the Sabine championship and more than $20,000. Each race, fans can expect to see as many as 15 boats leave the dock and go 120 mph one direction then seconds later, turn 180 degrees and go 100 mph the other direction.

The drivers will be divided into four classes: Sport F1, Formula Lights, Super Stock Tri-Hull and J-Hydro (a class for kids ages 9-16). All kids wear specially made Kevlar suits and helmets for protection.

Those on the Southern Professional Outboard Racing Tour say the races on the Sabine River are great for spectators and participants. 

“The river is beautiful and smooth,” said race director John Schubert. “It’s not totally salt, but it’s not fresh. The brackish water is a little bit faster and harder than fresh water. It makes the speeds faster. The course is nice. It’s got the levee going around it and the boat ramp right there. It’s just really set up for what we do.”

Race times are 3-6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19; and the finals begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20.

The City of Orange has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce and STI Group for a free concert with a performance by country music sensation Tracy Byrd and a firework show Friday, Sept. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverfront Pavilion on Fifth Street in downtown Orange.

Byrd, who was born in Vidor, was recently inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage, joining the likes of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Mickey Gilley, Gene Autry, Tanya Tucker, Ernest Tubb and many more.

He has charted more than 30 hits that include “Holdin’ Heaven,” “Lifestyles of the Not So Rich and Famous,” “Watermelon Crawl,” “The Keeper of the Stars,” “Walking to Jerusalem,” “I’m from the Country,” “Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo” and “Drinkin’ Bone.”

“Well this community has loved and supported me from the start, and I feel I belong in the list of talent that has come from our area, which is really unheard of,” Byrd said. “I hope to be remembered as a good man who loved his family, God and community and got most of it right in the long run. I am still a work in progress.”

Ashley Mahana, coordinator of the CVB, said, “the Showdown on the Sabine is very important to the city of Orange due to the opportunities it creates for increased hotel occupancy, a quality-of-life event for residents and visitors, and to showcase the City Boat Ramp where the Bassmasters Elite Series fishing tournament was held during March.”

Event partners include the Orange Parks Staff, Orange Fire Department, Acadian Ambulance, Orange Boating Club and Orange Chamber of Commerce. Security will be provided by the Orange Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard.

For those who wish to purchase a business VIP Tent Sponsorship for employees and guests, contact the Orange Chamber of Commerce at (409) 883-3536.

Further event information can be obtained by calling the Orange CVB at (409) 883-1011.

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