Pulling his boat off the trailer under cloudy skies threatening rain Friday afternoon, powerboat driver Dana Tomes said he was still delighted to be in Marietta.
"This is our favorite stop," said Tomes, of Huntington, W.Va., who drives the No. 22 Herd Racing Formula 2 boat. "Marietta on the whole tour is the place we enjoy coming to most."
Tomes is one of 39 drivers scheduled to take part in the 12th annual Riverfront Roar, set to begin with opening ceremonies at noon Saturday.
Powerboat racers arrive in Marietta for Riverfront Roar
Heat races for the Formula 2 and Formula 3 boats are scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Formula 2 boats are the largest of the two classes, and can reach speeds of 115 mph while Formula 3 boats top out at about 90 mph.
Drivers arrived in town Friday where they set up shop on Front and Second
streets, mingling with the public. The streets are closed to traffic during the event, along with a portion of Greene Street.
KEVIN PIERSON The Marietta Times
Lee Daniel, left, looks for advice from Curtis Campbell, right, Friday evening as they work to remove weight from Daniel’s No. 2 Gold Mech Mechanical boat in
"It's just a nice environment, setting your pits up on the street," said Merv Bjork, of Minneapolis, Minn., who drives the No. 32 Formula 2 boat.
The opportunity to mingle with fans is one of the appeals for drivers when it comes to competing in Marietta.
Add in the nearly perfect water conditions and scenic views, and it's a recipe for a fun weekend, they said.
7 a.m. - Registration begins for Run for The Roar, armory lawn Front Street.
8 to 9:15 a.m. - Run for the Roar roadrace.
9:15 to 9:30 a.m. - Run for The Roar Tot Trot, armory lawn Front Street.
9:30 to 9:45 a.m. - Run for the Roar awards presentation.
10 a.m. - Powerboats on the Ohio River for testing and fine-tuning.
10 a.m. - Beer garden opens.
Noon - Opening ceremonies, Ohio River Levee.
1 p.m. - Heat races begin.
12:30 to 12:45 p.m. - MOV'n Dragons Demonstration.
5 p.m. - Heat races conclude.
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. - Live entertainment begins with Triple Threat (Classic & Southern Rock).
6 to 7 p.m. - Columbus Zoo Safari at the armory location (time subject to change).
6:30 to 7 p.m. - Marietta Dance Academy.
7 to 8 p.m. - Jinx'd (Rock).
8 to 8:30 p.m. - Brittany Fox (Solo performer).
8:30 to 9:30 p.m. - Insured Sound (Variety).
9:30 to 9:50 p.m. - Fireworks at the levee.
9:50 p.m. to midnight - Live entertainment continues on stage with Audio Outlaws (Country).
9 to 11 a.m. - Registration and set up for Pioneer Corvette Show at the armory.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Pioneer Corvette Club Car Show - Entry is $10. There will be door prizes. T-shirts for the first 50 entrants. Awards for the top 25 cars. All makes and models welcome.
10 a.m. - Powerboats on the Ohio River, beer garden open noon to 5 p.m.
Noon - Opening ceremonies on the levee.
12:30 to 12:45 p.m. - MOV'n Dragons demonstration.
1 to 4 p.m. - Final races.
4:30 p.m. - Vadakin Cup and trophies awarded.
Organizers agreed, noting they expect anywhere between 40,000 and 50,000 people in town over the weekend.
"It's a great racing venue," said Gary Williams, Riverfront Roar chairman. "You've got the levee and you're right there in front of the action."
Coming off races in Pittsburgh over the Fourth of July where water conditions were harsh and debris caused minor damage to some boats, drivers said they're ready for Marietta's typically peaceful flow.
And even the threat of rain wasn't enough to put much damper on their spirits for Saturday's races.
"We're used to having water on our windshields, so a little rain isn't going to hurt," Bjork laughed.
Teresa Porter, of Marietta, and her husband brought their two young grandchildren, ages 5 and 7, to the Riverfront Roar for the first time this year.
"Everybody's ready for a nice weekend," Porter said. "The kids had a nice time looking at the boats."
Along with the racing, other entertainment was available to residents and drivers with activities such as the second Merchants and Artist Walk of the summer as well as live music.
"It's a good time to just get together with people, hang out and enjoy," said Michelle Gaughan, of Marietta, who was taking money for parking to raise money for the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley.
Some drivers like Tomes had other plans, however, as he took his fellow racing team member Roger LeGrand's boat to the Washington County Juvenile Center to show to the children there.
The idea, he said, is to show them all the excitement available in the world without resorting to drugs, violence or other crimes.
"Just because they're in that situation right now doesn't mean they have to be forever," Tomes said. "Stay on the straight and narrow. There are lots of fun things in life."
Music and an interactive "Roar's Got Talent" show also took place Friday evening.
Saturday's activities begin with the annual Run for the Roar road race at 8 a.m. with the first races scheduled for 1 p.m.
Live music will also take place Saturday and on Sunday the annual Pioneer Corvette Club Car Show will be on the streets with the final races scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m.
"There's a lot going on," Williams said. "You don't have to be a racing fan to come down here and have a great time."
The second Merchants and Artist Walk of the summer brought an additional crowd downtown Friday as more than 40 merchants and artists participated.
"We're pulling people not just from Marietta, but the valley," said Jennifer Offenberger, a board member with ReStore Marietta, which sponsors the walks.
Combining the Merchants and Artist Walk with the Riverfront Roar made perfect sense, as it brings together two of Marietta's most popular events, generating enthusiasm and business for the city, she said.
"It's just good to see people downtown," Offenberger said. "It's good for people to see what we have to offer."