Racers launch here Saturday

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Race fans from around the world will join area residents this weekend for the start of the World Championship Jet Boat races. Racing teams from four countries are set to gather over the next two weeks to race four Idaho rivers.

The ten-day event marks the second time St. Maries has been selected as the starting point for the race, and the St. Maries Chamber of Commerce has been working for much of the past year to prepare for the event.

Charlie Reynolds shows off the jet boat he will be racing in the World Championship Jet Boat Races starting May 20. Displayed on the bow are the names of Mr. Reynolds' supporters, who got a chance to sign the boat during an event at the Grapple Haus May 5.

Charlie Reynolds shows off the jet boat he will be racing in the World Championship Jet Boat Races starting May 20. Displayed on the bow are the names of Mr. Reynolds’ supporters, who got a chance to sign the boat during an event at the Grapple Haus May 5.

“Organizing began late last summer,” the chamber’s president, Shirley Ackerman, said. “I couldn’t possibly quantify the amount of work everyone has done or time spent on this event.”

The chamber worked with the communities of Harrison and Lewiston, as well as Kootenai County officials, to obtain proper permits and establish support infrastructure for the race.

Participating in the race are 36 two-person teams from the Unites States, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. While a number of them, including Rick and Jodi Hollingworth of Canada, a number of other teams, including five from New Zealand and two from Mexico will be seeing the Inland Northwest for the first time.

Among the first-time racers will be Charlie and Levi Reynolds of St. Maries. A long-time racer of cars, Mr. Reynolds has decided to represent his city and state during the races with his 355-horsepower jet boat, “Bad to the Bone.”

Residents of St. Maries have come out in numbers to support Mr. Reynolds’ attempt. More than 60 residents came out to the Grapple Haus May 5 to sign his boat and donate to his race fund.

“I can’t express enough my gratitude,” Mr. Reynolds said. “To my family for putting up with me, and the people for supporting me. It’s probably been one of the highlights of my life.”

The championship event begins with the Show and Shine Friday, May 20, on Main Street. All boats participating in the race will make an appearance on the street for the public to view. Race fans will have a chance to meet the race teams, purchase official race gear and partake of local businesses.

The chamber will be closing Main Street at noon to set up for the afternoon show and are asking the community to ensure their vehicles are removed by that time. The show is from 6 to 8 p.m.

The first day of races will start Saturday, May 21, at 10 a.m. on the St. Joe River, and will continue through 4 p.m. Racing will continue Sunday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to noon. Spectators are welcome to watch the race from all public access areas along the routes. The chamber asks spectators to be respectful of private property and to pick up any trash or debris when they leave.

Racing will continue on the Coeur d’Alene River May 24-25 and will start at the Gateway Marina in Harrison. Teams will gather for a Show and Shine event at the Clearwater River Casino in Lewiston Thursday, May 26, from 6-8 p.m. Racing will resume on the Grand Ronde River at Hells Gate Marina near Lewiston May 27, and continue on the Snake River May 28-29, ending at Hells Gate Marina May 29 at noon.

Those who would like to volunteer during the race are encouraged to contact the Chamber of Commerce office at (208) 245-3563, or ask at their office on Main Street. Official race gear is available at the chamber office and proceeds from all sales go to support the event.

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