The debate rages on over whether the popularity of traditional closed-course racing is gaining or fading in the U.S., but one element of PWC racing that seems to definitely have momentum at the moment is drag racing. It was promoter Tim McKercher who first put together a HydroDrag event, which showcased drag racing with a unique starting dock that eliminated the jumped start. Now, well-known PWC race promoter Mike Young has taken over the reins, and he has high goals for two events — the June HydroDrag Nationals and December World HydroDrag Championships.
One of the goals is to have drag racing recognized as a legitimate sport; the other goal is to attract sponsors. By May, Young appears well on his way to both. First came the announcement that the International Jet Sports Boating Association would be recognizing both National and World HydroDrag Champions at the 2013 events. Next came word that Young had signed on popular enthusiast website GreenHulk.net as a title sponsor of the Spring GreenHulk.net U.S. HydroDrag Nationals. The signing is in addition to RIVA Racing, which will continue to sponsor the RIVA Racing HydroDrag World Championships, now in its seventh year.
In early April, Young also added Yamaha to the mix, with the manufacturer coming on board as a presenting sponsor.
According to IJSBA managing director Scott Frazier, with the combination of drag racing, flatwater freestyle, and now regulation slalom courses being added to the HydroDrag mix, the 2013 season is “shaping up to be one of the most important seasons in PWC Racing history.” Young has been a leader in top-quality watercraft promotions for as long as most of us have been involved in the sport. It’s no surprise that his HydroDrag series has evolved into the most rapidly evolving form of IJSBA Racing.
“Adding a regulation slalom course further underscores the expansion of this segment of the sport. IJSBA is proud to sanction these events and to have Mike Young as an adviser to the future of PWC racing.”
Perhaps the most unique news, however, came in May with the announcement that the HydroDrags would be partnering with golf ball manufacturer Almost Golf during the upcoming GreenHulk.net U.S. HydroDrags in Tavares, Fla. Say what? Apparently, Almost Golf manufactures a foam golf ball that won’t damage property or injure innocent bystanders, a fact that has popularized the sport of urban golf. Urban golf is the game we’re all familiar with, but played in urban settings far from the local country club. This year, Almost Golf is launching a nationally televised Urban Golf Tour, and the kickoff will be — where else — at the HydroDrag event.
Young says the pairing is more obvious — and beneficial — than one would think. “We draw an average crowd of over 4,000 spectators and 150 participants to each round of the tour. The majority of these people are families, and the ability to have additional events and competitions that are open to everyone really allows everyone to engage and enjoy the weekend.”
“I am so excited to have partnered with the GreenHulk.net U.S. National HydroDrag Tour,” added Kevin Durkin, marketing director for Almost Golf. “To put the Urban Golf Tour right in the middle of over 5,000 people, to have the real estate to hold the event, the community support to put on the event and the infrastructure of a 17-year series and the ability to televise it makes this a turnkey success from the first hit of the Almost Golf Ball.”
The Urban Golf Tour will be televised in primetime on DISH Network Channels 81 and 230, and Young has already inked a deal with DISH for the HydroDrag Nationals on Channel 81. The addition of The Urban Golf Tour will apparently allow HydroDrag TV producer Skip Fredericks to create two separate half-hour programs, each of which will draw some degree of content from the other.
Fredericks says it will create a “show within a show,” and attract more viewers by exposing both events to different audiences.
Says Fredericks, “It’s really going to be very exciting to produce and even more exciting to watch.”