BAY CITY (WJRT) - (07/12/19) - After a one year absence powerboat racing has returned to Bay City.
For three decades the race was known as the River Roar. Now it's called the Rockin' the River.
"It's fantastic to be back in Bay City. You know, it's got such a long history," said Tim Seebold, an eight time winner in Bay City.
Now he's the series manager for the NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Championship.
"You're going to see some familiar things going on, but we have more of everything," Seebold said.
The Real Flavors Rockin' the River will be livestreamed and end up on a sports network. So Bay City will be seen around the globe.
Powerboat racing fans have been waiting for this day.
"It's great, been really excited since they said they were coming back," said John Sanford of Pinconning.
"It's awesome. I'm glad to see them back. It would be a shame to lose an event like this," said Pat McKinstry of Beaverton.
Friday was a testing day, with the races on Saturday and Sunday.
"They're just right on the very edge all the time and it's full blast, they never let off when they go in the corners. It's just really, really fun and exciting," Sanford said.
Seebold tells us to watch closely by the boat ramp. "You always, by the boat ramp, there's always a funny bump there that gets the boats out of shape."
And during the finals, Seebold said it gets intense when the lead boats are trying to get around the others they've lapped. "You have to be able to pick and choose your lines, especially when it's rougher and narrow, to get around the lap traffic because they're racing too. So they don't get out of your way."
The Saginaw River is much higher than drivers and race fans are used to, which resulted in a few changes.
Official viewing is only on the east side in Wenonah Park, as they had to shift some things around at Vets Park.
"It's a different footprint for the overall event," Seebold said.
Vets Bridge is under construction and water is partially covering areas in the park which forced the pit area to shift. "The pit area has moved, but it's still on the west side," Seebold said.
The ramp where the NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Championship series vessels will launch is under water too.
"We'll make due. Again, it's different, but believe me, we've launched in way more difficult places," Seebold said.
Terry Rinker, the winningest racer in Bay City history, took his son's boat out for a few spins during testing. It's the highest the water's ever been. And it could be good, hopefully the bottom of the river won't show up with deeper water," Rinker said.
Will the high water impact drivers? Rinker said they won't know until racing officially begins.
"You'll be able to tell because if the water roughens up here like it can here in Bay City, boats will be in the air a lot, and hopefully come back down to the water like we want them to," Rinker said.
Seebold expects the river to truly be rocking. "So you're still going to get that bathtub effect where the waves come crashing right back on the course, which makes it extremely rough," he said. "The harder it is for the drivers, the better it is for the fans."
Click on the 'Related Link' with this story to learn more about the event.