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Regatta Sponsor

Budweiser, Crusin’ Auto
to sponsor Madison Regatta

By Don Ward
Editor

(April 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 earlier 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 Centers,
Tony Steinhardt

Madison’s own Marc Gray, owner of Cruisin’ 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 March 5 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.
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 said a vintage race boat program 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.
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: www.madisonregatta.com.
American Legion to sponsor fireworks
For the second consecutive year and third overall, the American Legion Post No. 9 has stepped forward to sponsor the Madison Regatta fireworks show, this year scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday, July 6. Regatta and American Legion officials announced the decision at a March 13 press conference in Madison.
“Everyone loves the fireworks show, and especially this year after what happened on 9-11, we decided it would be the best use of the organization’s funds for the greater good of the community,” said Cmdr. Bill Bruther. “I have grandchildren, and I know how much the kids love the fireworks. It’s one of the few times the community comes together.”
The post will provide $20,000 to stage the fireworks show on the Ohio River as part of this year’s Budweiser Madison Regatta presented by Cruisin’ Auto.
Steinhardt said that patriotic music playing over the public address system would accompany this year’s fireworks show. Regatta official Kim Washer added that some new surprises are also in the works. She would not elaborate. Zambelli’s International of New Castle, Pa., will stage the fireworks show.
Official song announced
The membership of the Budweiser Madison Regatta presented by Cruisin’ Auto has announced an Official Song for the Event titled, “Ride That River.” The song was written and performed by Madison singer-songwriter Rusty Bladen.
“The Regatta membership is very happy to include “Ride That River” into the Budweiser Madison Regatta Presented by Cruisin’ Auto’s program. Given that Rusty lives in Madison and knows what the Regatta is all about is great,” said Tony Steinhardt, Madison Regatta president.
Bladen is no stranger to the Regatta. He has played at the Regatta’s Music on the River for many years, and now Bladen is in his second year of chairing the growing event. Music on the River is held nightly from July 4-7 at Fireman’s Park along the riverfront. An entertainment schedule and an announcement of Music on the River sponsors will be out in the coming months.
Bladen plans to record a commemorative two-song CD in April with three members of Indiana-based rock star John Mellencamp’s band. The songs, “Ride That River” and “Red, White and Blue,” will be the featured cuts. Bladen has rewritten some of the words of the latter song to reflect the events of Sept. 11.
“It’s now a song about a New York City firefighter,” Bladen said. The CD will be available at House O Hits music store and wherever Bladen performs. He is next scheduled to appear in Madison at 8 p.m. on April 12 at The Wharf.
Advance Admission to the 2002 Budweiser Madison Regatta presented by Cruisin’ Auto is $15 through June 29 and $20 thereafter, and at the gates (children 10 and under are free).

• For more information on ticket and seating options and news about the Regatta, call (812) 265-5000 or visit: www.madisonregatta.com. For more about Rusty Bladen, visit: www.rustybladen.com

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