More Race Sites? "Possibly in the fall," said ABRA's Sam Cole
ABRA's Sam Cole says more races sites are possible. "We had a couple of opportunities that fizzled on us," he said. But he hinted that there are possibilities as early as this year. "possibly in the fall." Pressed for details, he declined to name specific cities, but did add that it would likely be in the "Southern United States."
Cole also said there are a number of former race sites that may return. "We are looking at some of the sites we've been," Cole said. Dr. Ken Muscatel is leading the effort. In the past, Muscatel has talked about Nashville returning to the unlimited hydroplane racing circuit as well as expansion into the Washington, D.C. area.
"Our vision is 12 to 14," said Muscatel at the ABRA meetings. "Then we need to bring in TV."
"We've been running on a shoestring," said Muscatel." We have to build a stable platform to build the sport." But Muscatel said it's not going to happen by luck. "We have to be much more aggressive in development and ownership of those races to make it happen and keep it stable."
"We're all on the same page, wanting to do the same thing," said U-6 owners rep Bob Hughes. That "same thing" includes a "new action plan on developing new race sites," said Muscatel.
Muscatel said there are potential new races for 2008. He mentioned meetings with Houston, Dallas, and Indianapolis. "We have to get active to make it happen," he said.
This year, there are 6 race sites on the circuit after Valleyfield, Quebec dropped out citing safety about running the big boats on a smaller, tighter course. "We're crushed not to be going back to Valleyfield," said Cole. "We understand why though - safety concerns."
"All motor sports are suffering," said Cole. "Even NASCAR, Indy Cart - look at qualifying for the Indy 500 - attendance is down." Cole said the key is re-inventing the sport. Cole said it's competition that ultimately will bring the fans back and lead to more races. And this year is set to bring a high level of competition. U-37 driver Jean Theoret said there are 6 or 7 boats that have the chance to win at any race site. "Teams are taking this circuit more and more seriously," Theoret said. "Better preparation will show."
"Everybody's engine's been somewhere getting work. Trying to get more out of their engines," said Cole.