Get Ready To Rumble

Carroll officials hope
August speed boat event
will boost tourism

Don Ward

(February 2002) CARROLLTON, Ky – If you’re a boater and you like speed, then Carrollton has just what you’re looking for come August. Tourism officials are planning the first “Rumble on the River,” a three-day event on Aug. 2-4 in what could feature the fastest man on water, Australian Ken Warby. Warby visited Carrollton Jan. 25 to help kick off the planning and discuss his fascination for speed. He has held the World Water Speed Record for 21 years. In fact, two men have been killed trying to top it.

CC G.Williams,Ken Warby.jpg

CC G.Williams & Ken Warby

Warby set the record in 1978 when he reached 317.60 mph on Blowering Dam in New South Wales, Australia. Today, his “Spirit of Australia” race boat resides in the National Maritime Museum in Sydney. A new boat, meanwhile, has been built in nearby Cincinnati for use by Warby to fend off any would-be record stealers. The 28-foot, 6-inch boat houses a Westinghouse J-34 WE-34 turbojet engine with 6,000 horsepower. It races to 9,000 horsepower when fitted with an afterburner and can reach speeds of more than 400 mph.
Gary Williams of Columbus, Ohio, organized the first such speed boat exhibition last
year in White Oak, Ohio, and attracted 85 participant boats. At Carrollton this summer, Williams said he expects boaters from as far away as Canada, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, both Carolinas Great Britain, Arizona and California.
“This event is equivalent to a ‘Cruise In,’ where it’s more about the boats,”
Williams said. “This is a great place to have it because of the hotels and the interstate.”
A tech seminar is being planned for Friday for participants.
Tourism director Robin Caldwell said county officials expect the event to be a big
draw for participants and spectators, alike. Carrollton’s Holiday Inn already has booked dozens of rooms for the event. A new website already has received several thousand hits, organizers said.
One of the largest race boating magazines, “Hot Boat,” is planning to publish a feature story on Carrollton, Caldwell said, further promoting the county as a tourism destination.
Warby, meanwhile, is like the “Pete Rose of Boat Racing,” even having been once honored by the Queen of England. He now lives in Cincinnati, where he is searching
for a sponsor for his new boat. He will appear at the August event to sign autographs
and show videos of his previous races.

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