Despite efforts to make sure that the 24th annual Thunder in the Hills would take place this September at Rocky Fork Lake, organizers say the hydroplane race has been officially cancelled.
Race director Dean Davis told The Highland County Press on Thursday that the Southern Ohio Powerboat Association was unable to come up with the additional $12,000 needed to put on the event, which costs an estimated total of $30,000.
"There is just no way that we can come up with enough sponsor money to do it," Davis said. "We're several thousand short, and so we're just not able to do it. There are some people who are faithful and support us every year, but we just don't have enough new ones to come along."
The SOPA will do fundraisers over the coming year - starting with a July 10 bass tournament - with the hope of having the race in 2012.
"This year would have been the 24th year," Davis said. "I guess next year will be the 24th year. We're going to do some fundraisers this summer. We'll be having the bass tournament, and we're hoping to do a car show."
Davis said that he knows a lot of area businesses benefit from the annual race and that they will be disappointed at the loss.
"Our club spends a lot of money in the area for the race," Davis said. "Timber Lane will miss out. They always do our hats and t-shirts and trophies, and we spend about $2,000. The publishers who do our book will miss out on about $2,000. We buy all the food we use out there, which is about $1,000 that we spend. We take up all of Tu Lakes Motel for two nights. The campgrounds are going to miss out, the other hotels in town are going to miss out. The Lazy 8 Cabins always fill up every year. There are a lot of businesses that are going to lose a lot of money by us not being able to raise enough money to do it."
The SOPA has said in early May that the future of the race was uncertain. SOPA Commodore Paul Yinger said that when they initially started to cancel the race that the racers themselves stepped in to try to help out with funds. Davis said that the funding gap was too large to fill.
In 2008, one day of racing had to be canceled after winds from Hurricane Ike caused severe winds and damage in the area. Yinger said the organization has not quite recovered from that financial loss.
"There are people who come from as far south as Florida, from Texas, and they come from across the United States," Davis said. "They come from New York, New Jersey, George, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and they come from Canada. They eat here at the restaurants, and they have to have gas to get home, which they buy here."
Davis said that the food vendors had already been booked for the 2011 race, and that the funds will have to be returned.
"But at least we have all the food vendors booked now for next year," Davis said.
The SOPA thanks the people who have sponsored them over the years, Davis said.
"We want to thank the businesses who do help," Davis said. "A lot of them do. But not enough of them. We'll try to work this summer, and hope for the best next year.
For more information on the fundraising bass tournament, Davis can be reached at (937) 393-1153.