Riverfront Roar

MARIETTA – Stiff breezes in advance of an approaching rainstorm whipped the Ohio River into whitecaps Sunday and forced cancellation of the final day’s powerboat races during the 14th annual Riverfront Roar.

Spectators and powerboat drivers were disappointed, but Saturday’s races went well and Roar organizers say the event was still a success.

“The smaller boats can disappear between some of those large rollers, and the waves can beat the bottom out of the fiberglass boats. So it’s a real safety issue for the drivers,” said Jerry Book, head of the Buckeye Outboard Association that sponsored this year’s event.

“This is just part of powerboat racing,” he said.

Book said points earned by the drivers during Saturday’s qualifying races would be counted toward the final championship of the racing circuit.

Twenty-two drivers took part in this year’s Riverfront Roar, which is testimony to the popularity the Pioneer City has enjoyed from the racers for the last 14 years.

“It’s a great town and they love Marietta,” Book said.

Less than 10 drivers showed up for the previous racing circuit stop on July in Pittsburgh, he said.

Jerry and his brother, Chris Book, are powerboat drivers on this year’s racing circuit.

Chris said he and other drivers were disappointed the races couldn’t be held Sunday.

“But we’re pretty dependent on the weather, so I hope people will understand,” he said. “You just can’t control the weather.”

Gary Williams, chairman of the Riverfront Roar committee, said he and fellow committee members still consider the 2014 event a success.

“The drivers were disappointed, but they still love Marietta, and they’re looking forward to the 2015 Riverfront Roar,” he said. “We want this event to be safe for everyone and the fans understand. Jerry Book took his big supersport boat on the river just to show the crowd why the drivers couldn’t be out there. He was bouncing all over the place.”

Williams said in spite of Sunday’s race cancellation, the 2014 Riverfront Roar drew thousands to the Ohio River levee and downtown Marietta.

“Everything has been great, and we’ve had tremendous crowds, even in the 90-degree heat,” he said. “Saturday’s racing went off well, and there was great attendance for the entertainment and fireworks display that night. It’s good to have the crowds back this year.”

Last year’s event had no powerboat races at all, due to the river running high and debris floating downstream.

“But this year has gone pretty well with good crowds watching the races with their families, which is what this is all about,” said Andrea Zaph of Portsmouth, who operates the Buckeye Outboard Association with husband Kevin Zaph.

Although the races had to be dropped, there were plenty of other activities for the Roar crowd to enjoy, including food and souvenirs from a variety of vendors and the annual Riverfront Roar car show hosted by the local Pioneer Corvette Association.

“We had 47 vehicles registered by 10:30 a.m., but we’re expecting more. Last year we had more than 100 cars and trucks,” said Connie Rader with the Roar car show committee.

She said Sunday’s weather forecast, predicting rain in the late afternoon, may have influenced some car owners’ decisions to participate this year.

Still there were plenty of vehicles lining Front Street for the show, including two 2014 Corvette Stingrays.

“It’s one of my toys. I just bought this one Wednesday. I liked the color,” said Larry Farr of Mineral Wells of his new blue Corvette.

Tom and Laurie Munc of Lowell parked their white and black 2014 Corvette next to Farr’s.

“This is the first year of the seventh generation of Corvettes,” Tom said. “And they’ve brought back the Stingray this year which is completely redesigned. It’s extremely aerodynamic and is test-proven to 195 mph top speed.”

He said the Stingray is the couple’s 14th Corvette.

But Fred Snow of Marietta is sticking with his red 1989 Corvette, a gift from his wife and daughters.

“I put both of my daughters and my wife through college, so they wanted to do something nice for old Dad,” he said. “I found this car and they got it for me. And now I enjoy showing it at car shows.”

Snow said he believes the Corvette name is what makes the car so popular.

“And it’s a true American sports car,” he said.