IDAHO FALLS – If you hear some really loud engines and see a quick flash of something tearing through the river this week, don’t worry – the speedboat racers are practicing for this year’s duck race.
Monday night was the annual speedboat racer practice, where the racers are given a chance to go out on the Snake River and prepare themselves (and their boats) for Saturday’s event, which will be before the Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race.
EastIdahoNews.com was lucky enough to take a ride in one of the speedboats to experience the adrenaline rush, and speak to the racers who were making sure their motors were working properly and their boats were running smoothly.
Tim and TJ Waterman, a father and son duo, brought their boat out to the John’s Hole boat ramp to practice some “water drag-racing” and connect with some other racers who share their same passions.
“I’ve grown up around boats, I’ve been around them since I was an infant. I’ve always loved these boats. We’ve dreamed over them,” says TJ Waterman. “My dad was into boats when he was younger, and just recently, three years ago, we bought this one and got back into it.”
TJ and his dad have been a part of the annual duck race high-performance boat races for the last two years but were introduced to the idea by complete luck.
“Getting into the duck race was actually by chance,” says Waterman. “I was coming home from work, and I drove over the overpass and saw there were a bunch of boats, so I called my dad and said, ‘Get to the ramp, I don’t know what’s going on, but we’re gonna figure it out.'”
Ever since then, the Watermans have been putting their boat on the water every summer to race other speedboats at speeds up to 90 mph.
“We just come out and race for fun,” says Waterman. “A boat like this is a 80 to 90 mph boat. Some of these v-drive boats, they run off of propellers instead of a jet, and they can break 100 mph easily. It just depends on how they’re built and set up.”
According to Waterman, the boat dock will be completely lined with boats this year, making the race a must-see.
The 31st annual Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race, hosted by The Idaho Falls Rotary Club, will begin pre-race activities on Friday, Aug. 12.
You can expect to see events such as a car cruise and poker run, live music, a super car demonstration, and enjoy free Farr’s ice cream and a free dinner provided by Sam’s Clubs on Friday.
On Saturday, some events include a car show, the high-performance boat races, a semi-pro wake board demonstration, a safe archery shoot for kids, and finally the dumping of 20,000 little yellow ducks into the Snake River.
The duck race
The famous duck drop will occur at 4 p.m. Saturday, north of the falls overlook near the Best Western Driftwood Inn. The first ducks to drop over the falls will be the winners. Winners will be announced on the Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race and Idaho Falls Rotary Club Facebook pages, as well as local media outlets.
According to a news release from the Idaho Falls Rotary club, this year’s grand prize is a 2014 Jeep Wrangler Limited Sport Willys donated by Idaho Falls Cars & Truck.
The first-place prize is 2021 Polaris Sportsman HD four-wheeler, donated by Idaho Central Credit Union. The second-place prize is $3,000 in jewelry donated by Alpine Jewelers.
Other prizes include golf passes donated by Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation, $1,000 in gift certificates from Sam’s Club, $1,000 in fuel donated by KJ’s Super Stores, ski passes and more. Participants can win multiple prizes.
All proceeds from the race go toward continued improvements along the Greenbelt/River Walk, including the city’s new Heritage Park.
“Our community is so supportive of this event that we sold out of ducks early last year, so we’ve added 1,000 more to the flock. We now have a total of 20,000 ducks just patiently waiting to be adopted,” says Idaho Falls Rotarian Kerry Hammon in the news release. “We’re all winners when it comes to the duck race, as the funds go right back into our city’s crown jewel for all of us to enjoy.”
There is still time to adopt a duck. Go to www.duckrace.com/idahofalls to adopt your own, and get a chance to win one of the many prizes offered this year.