Hovercraft rally in Piqua
By Stacey Ritz
photo by: Graham Spencer racing in Formula 35 during a Hoverclub of America rally in 2012; photo credit: Jay Frost
“We are going to have racing and cruising all at the same venue. We will have a full schedule of races on the banks and waters of the Great Miami River in downtown Piqua. Cruisers can watch the races or join in any one of several cruises and challenges scheduled for that weekend,” shared Scott Hull, President of Hoverclub of America. “The city of Piqua and the Miami Conservancy District are ready and excited to have us descend on their turf the third weekend in July.” Starting Friday, July 19, at 8 a.m. through Sunday, July 21, at 5 p.m. Hoverally 2013 will take place on the banks of the Great Miami River in Piqua at the East Main Street bridge (MCD levee location). Pre-registration is recommended and starts at just $15.
What exactly is a hovercraft? Dan Heidel, public relations director of Hoverclub of America explained, “Hovercraft flying/racing is just like flying a real plane except they will only be 10-12 inches off the ground instead of 10-12,000 feet. The fall is a lot quicker, but also a lot softer. You fly these craft by pointing them in the direction you want to go and then waiting for it to go there. It’s like nothing else you’ve driven or seen before and it takes time to understand what is happening and to learn to do it. The race will be a very fast paced event with a lot of things happening all at one time. Once they start the race, it’s hard to take it all in!”
One of the most unique aspects of hovercrafts is that they can transition from land to water quickly and with ease. For example, if you drive a hovercraft on the golf course (instead of a standard golf cart), you can drive straight from land through the pond and back to land – adding an extra element of pizazz and excitement to the course,” said Heidel. “This is a very different type of show in Piqua. Hovercraft will be floating on air and moving from water to land very quickly. It will look something like a scene from ‘Star Wars’ with pod racers … but instead of flying at 600 miles per hour they will be going 30-40 miles per hour.”
As the first time Piqua will host the annual Hoverally event this July, Hull shared why his organization feels Piqua is the ideal location for such an event: “Piqua has a great riverfront that is ideal for racing, cruising and spectators. Piqua is a centrally located venue for our club membership, providing easy access from east, west, north and south. It is our hope that we can make this venue a regular location for hover events.”
The Hoverclub of America typically holds more than 20 events annually throughout various parts of the country, including the University Hoverbowl Challenge in Alabama. Hoverally is typically the largest event of the year and brings together both racers and cruisers.
As a spectator of the Piqua event, you can expect to witness countless “fast and crazy race craft” in the river area just south of the Main Street Bridge. The best viewing will be from the bike path on the west side of the river. Friday and Saturday will host multiple race events. Sunday will feature a three-hour endurance race with open class racing.
The Hovercraft Club of America is primarily comprised of recreational hovercraft enthusiasts. Hull explained, “The benefits for us are the ability to access areas of the country that typically are not accessible for watercraft, but have all of the natural beauty nature can offer. The impact on the ecology of the area is very light; a little wind and a little noise. There are no tire tracks, kicked up mud and debris or destruction of sensitive vegetation with our craft.”
Heidel is looking forward to the Hovercraft Rally in Piqua to spend time with others who are interested in learning about what hovercrafts are and how they can have one of their own. Hovercraft can travel through water, land, ice and snow – a unique vehicle that continues to evolve.
“I like hearing from other club members on what new challenges or upgrades they have made to the craft to make it perform or look better,” Heidel added.
Miamisburg resident Robert Rayle was excited by the idea of attending the upcoming hovercraft rally in Piqua. “That sounds amazing! I would love to see a hovercraft in action, and maybe have a chance to ride in one – or own one myself? I plan on attending in Piqua and checking it out!”
Mark your calendar and make plans to attend an event that will have you talking about what is possible – both in and out of the water – with the hovercraft.
Hoverally 2013 takes place Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21, along the banks of the Great Miami River near the East Main Street Bridge in Piqua. To learn more or to register to attend the event, please visit hoverclubofamerica.org.
Reach DCP freelance writer Stacey Ritz at StaceyRitz@DaytonCityPaper.com.