MADISON, Ind. — After 39 years, hydroplane boat racing's premiere event is making a return to Madison, Indiana this summer for the Madison Regatta.
"If there's ever such a thing as Madison's biggest reunion or this area's biggest reunion, this definitely is the week to be in Madison," Matt True, the president of Madison Regatta Inc., said.
The Madison Regatta has been held every year during Independence Day weekend for more than half a century, with tens of thousands of people coming to the riverside to watch the hydroplane boat races.
"I remember as a kid riding my bicycle over to the local hotels and my parents wouldn't allow me to cross the road, so I'd have to look at the boats across the street and just be in awe of the fact that they were actually here and it was actually regatta time," True said.
True has since grown up, but this year, the Gold Cup will be returning — something he hasn't seen from the banks of the Ohio River in Madison since his childhood.
"It would be like the Indianapolis 500 of IndyCar. It would be the Super Bowl of football, and obviously the Kentucky Derby of horse racing," he said. "I think it was one of those things people didn't really know how to get it, and we asked and we got our answer."
The regatta's attendance has risen and fallen, often affected by the weather, but True hopes the Gold Cup will bring more people to Madison this year.
Last year's event drew 35,000 people, and True said a study has determined the regatta brings about $1.3 billion to Madison's economy. True hopes this year's numbers will be even higher.
"I just answered an email from a lady — she's bringing her 99-year-old dad to come watch the race here this year," he said.
The Gold Cup will also return in 2020.
People can get more information about the Madison Regatta and purchase tickets to this year's event on their website.