Regatta Revival

Budweiser, Cruisin' Auto to sponsor
2002 Madison Regatta

Don Ward,

(March 5, 2002) Madison, Ind. - With time quickly running out to find a title sponsor for the 2002 race weekend, Madison Regatta Inc. pulled off what just three weeks ago seemed like the impossible.
Only this time, rather than support coming from a deep-pocketed casino or national business chain, it came from right here at home.

Marc Gray, Ann Center, Tony Steinhardt

From left, Cruisin’ Auto owner
Marc Gray, Madison Regatta vice
president Ann Center and Regatta
president Tony Steinhardt.

Madison’s own Marc Gray, owner of Crusin’ Auto car sales at 3713 Clifty Dr., and Anheuser-Busch, at the urging of legendary Budweiser race boat owner Bernie Little, together agreed to provide enough money for Regatta officials to announce Wednesday that they could bring back the Unlimited hydroplane racing boats for the 52nd year. The race weekend is scheduled for July 5-7, with a full lineup of festival events in the days preceding it.
Budweiser is providing $40,000 to become the title sponsor; Cruisin’ Auto will kick in between $20,000 and $25,000 to become a “presenting sponsor,” Gray said. Madison Regatta Inc. board president Tony Steinhardt announced the news at a press conference at Madison City Hall.
“We are extremely excited. This decision by this board today to bring in the Unlimiteds would not be possible without Marc’s help as a sponsor,” Steinhardt said.
Gray, who has operated his car sales business for 20 years, said he is a lifelong Regatta fan who considered it an annual family event that was too important to see end. “Our customers are like family, and that’s the reason we decided to do this. The Unlimiteds are arguably the best race show on Earth.”
Madison Mayor Al Huntington acknowledged a declining interest in the Regatta among area residents and urged the community to buy wristbands and support the event this year.
Steinhardt thanked former title sponsor Belterra Casino Resort for its support the previous two years and said Belterra officials had been helping the Regatta locate additional supporting sponsors. Belterra has remained as a supporting sponsor this year.
“We are still not out of the woods yet,” Steinhardt said. “We still need to find some more sponsorship money, but we felt that with Budweiser and Cruisin’ Auto stepping up, it was enough to go ahead and move forward with the (Unlimited) program.”
Steinhardt cited a Purdue University study conducted at last year’s Regatta that showed an economic impact of more than $1.2 million to the community. “The board felt we could not let an event that has that much of an economic impact go by the wayside. And we felt that the community support for an event without the Unlimiteds would not be there, and any support we had would dwindle.”
Steinhardt also announced a three-day race schedule for this year, with admission gates going up on Friday this year. About 10 Unlimiteds are reportedly ready to participate in the six-stop Hydro-Prop racing circuit this season. The big boats will begin testing on Friday this year, with qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday. The community owned Miss Madison-Oh Boy O’Berto, which won last year’s Madison Regatta, is scheduled to compete in all six Hydro-Prop races this year.
Steinhardt also announced the addition of a vintage race boat program that will be part of the lineup on the Ohio River. This will include a variety of boat classes plus an exhibition of Jersey Speed Skiffs, some of which will offer $20 rides to fans. The vintage race program will officially be called the “Bob Snelling Vintage Memorial Race” in memory of the late city councilman, former Regatta president and race chairman.
In addition to seeking race sponsorships, Madison Regatta officials are still seeking a sponsor for the Saturday night fireworks show, but most other festival events have been sponsored. These sponsors include River Valley Financial Bank, bed race; King’s Daughters’ Hospital and Health Services, 3-on-3 basketball tournament; Frisch’s Big Boy, Little Miss and Mr. Contests; and Madison Courier, 10k walk/run. Festival events also include a Friday evening parade, beauty pageant, air show, radio-controlled hydroplane racing and food fair.
Advance wristband sales to the Madison Regatta are $15 through June 29 and $20 thereafter. Children 10 and under are free. Tickets may be purchased online.

• For more information, call (812) 265-5000 or visit: Madison Regatta.
Hydro-Prop, based in Lake Hamilton, Fla., owns the Unlimiteds and Formula One racing circuits. Its events are held throughout North America and broadcast on ESPN2. For more information, visit: Hydro-Prop.

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