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Annual event, now entering its 71st year and one of the oldest in the nation, is set for Memorial Day weekend at Rogers Landing

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Hydroplanes, runabouts and other boats will compete at the Memorial Day boat races.

Once again racing boats are preparing to fly down the Willamette River for the annual Memorial Day weekend race.

The annual event, now in its 71st year and held at Rogers Landing, is the second oldest American Powerboat Association race in the nation.

The Newberg Boat Club is again hosting the annual event, which started in 1948 with a marathon race from Independence to Newberg.

The race has come a long way since then, moving to a two-day event, held on the Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day, with sanctioned heat racing of stock outboards (hydroplanes and runabouts) and Outboard Performance Craft (OPC's or tunnel boats).

The event is co-hosted by the Newberg club and the Columbia Outboard Racing Association. On May 25, they will stage North American Championship races for the Sport-C Class; on May 26 the 45-SS class boat will have their turn at earning a win.GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Drivers from all over the West compete in the event.

The 45SS class features what are known as tunnel boats that can reach speeds of up to 85 mph as they navigate Newberg's cyclical course, which features a dogleg around a bend in the Willamette River and tight turns at each end.

As per usual, the race will begin between 10 and 11 a.m. and will last until around 6 p.m. when the last races are complete. According to the boat club, there are usually three flights of races on Saturday and Sunday, "with a short intermission between each flight, to allow our volunteers to come in off the water and take care of necessities," a release said.

On Sunday, during the first intermission, the club holds a Memorial Day ceremony, including the laying of a wreath on the water, an inspirational reading and a 21-gun salute by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Admission and parking are free, with shuttle busses provided to ferry spectators from the parking area on 14th Street to Rogers Landing, which will feature covered bleachers and concessions.

Rogers Landing will be closed to the public for the event beginning Friday at 5 p.m.

For more information about the event, visit the Newberg Boat Club's website at www.newbergboatclub.org.


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