BY LAUREN MATTHEWS
Amy Jo Dieffenbauch and Dan McConaughey approached the Wetzel County Commission June 10 to request help with funding for this year's New Martinsville Records Run Challenge and Regatta.
Boats take off from the dock at last year’s New Martinsville Records Challenge. (Photo by Lewie Osborne)
Dieffenbauch, who gave a PowerPoint presentation, explained that over the past two years, the event "has returned our local community to its rightful place in powerboat racing."
"The event has drawn participants from all categories of APBA and our total of recognized national and international records stands at 114, more than any other venue in the United States," she noted.
Dieffenbauch shared that the committee did not have the funds to bring actual racing back to the area in 2012, but "we were very successful in attracting many drivers in setting records."
Last year, in response to requests to bring back the racing, the regatta committee added two classes of Inboard Hydroplanes and two classes of Outboard Tunnel boats. Dieffenbauch stated that this year's event, scheduled for Sept. 26-28, will include the on-water records run for all categories of powerboat and "of course we will continue with racing." Dieffenbauch stated that more land-based activities are planned for this year's event in hopes to attract a wider audience.
That is partially possible because the Festival of Memories, previously held the third Saturday in July, is being combined with the regatta.
Consequently, there will be no street festival in New Martinsville this July.
This year's event will be kicked off with a street fair, which would enable fans to meet drivers and acquire autographs in the event's first official program. Friday night's activities will also include a concert downtown and fireworks.
Dieffenbauch's presentation included a number of reasons as to how the Records Challenge benefits the area, such as that it "showcases the riverfront." Dieffenbauch noted that the event brings out-of-town participants from as far away as Elk River, Minn., and Okkechobee, Fla. "Not one driver or team is local; however, the participants do spend money in our county," Dieffenbauch noted.
She added that the event attracts positive media attention "on a local, regional, national, and international basis."
Furthermore, the festivities "generate economic development via outside dollars spent in area retail establishments, restaurants, and lodging facilities." Dieffenbauch stated that the estimated amount brought in from "powerboat participation is $75,000 based on hotel and motel room usage, meals, entertainment, and miscellaneous expenses." She stated that the event also uses local and area businesses for required race production expenses and that the event provides area service organizations "a method for additional fund raising opportunities for their individual community service projects."
Dieffenbauch stated that the New Martinsville Records Challenge and Regatta "is only possible due to the generous contributions from our sponsors." She noted that in 2012 and 2013 the commission gave the committee $8,000 each year. "This year we are joining forces and combining the Festival of Memories with our event," she reported, adding that the committee is requesting $12,000 sponsorship "for this growing event."
McConaughey informed the Wetzel Chronicle Monday evening that the commission had since approved the request for $12,000 from the New Martinsville Records Run Challenge and Regatta.