Riverfront Roar racers ready to go

MARIETTA – With road closures planned and races set, organizers are praying for good weather and smooth rides this weekend at the Riverfront Roar.

“We’re hoping that we chase this rain away. If we can get by tonight and set up, the rest of the weekend looks hot but pretty good,” said Barry Mullen, a committee member with the Roar. “We’re set up for some great racing, and of course we have a variety of live music anywhere from bluegrass to country to rock–it’s more special because we have local talent.”

Racers come for the annual event from all over and for Dan Bunting with Powerboat Nationals, it’s the closest race to home, bringing a bit of nostalgia as a former racer.

“My first race was in Marietta, and we raced there when I had a team, and now as a race promoter to be back and bring in the hydro cross events again with the jetski racing, I love coming back,” said Bunting.

Bunting got started racing nearly two decades ago, he said, after working wake patrol on the water of a few races and watching the speed.

“Then I went out and bought a boat and started racing myself,” he laughed. “About 18 years ago, eight laps in Marietta I was running the Monster Energy boat and had made eight turns when the boat split in half and I went swimming.”

Now, to bring in new racers, meet generations of fans who started watching the sport as children and now bring their kin, Bunting said he’s happy to see the races continue.

“Especially bringing in more female drivers, too,” he said. “One of our strongest contenders is a female driver, Jayme Durand.”

Durand, 35, of North Augusta, S.C. is returning to Marietta for a third year of racing, coming off a win last weekend.

“I grew up on the Savannah River, and I race with my dad,” said Durand as she traveled to Ohio Thursday, hauling the trailer with her boat. “Back when I won my first race four years ago, I was hooked, in the boat, it’s the only place where my brain shuts down any stress, all things go away, and the adrenaline kicks in–all you have is what you see and the person on your radio.”

Durand said she’s looking forward to not only seeing the racing family but also those who come to watch.

“The fans for us are an extended family,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to being there and being on the water.”

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.