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HomeEvent CoverageSan Diego Bayfair Celebrates 50 Years with Fast Boats, Cars and Music on Mission Bay

San Diego Bayfair Celebrates 50 Years with Fast Boats, Cars and Music on Mission Bay

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, San Diego Bayfair is preparing to take over Mission Bay next week (Sept. 12-14) and host the city’s biggest family festival featuring the world’s fastest race boats, the Thunder Rod Nationals Car Show, live music all weekend and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! floating Ferrari, which is making its U.S. water debut.

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Last year Jimmy Shane was chasing down the Oh Boy! Oberto H1 Unlimited hydroplane in Bayfair—this year Shane will be looking to secure the national high points championship in the driver’s seat of the Madison-Ind.-owned Oberto boat. Photo by Jason Johnson

More than 85,000 spectators and RV owners are expected to converge on East Vacation Island, Crown Point and Fiesta Island for the three-day event. Bayfair, which was founded by San Diego Hall of Famer Bill Muncey in 1964, plans to celebrate its history as well as look toward the next 50 years. (For a closer look at the 50-year history of Bayfair, check out hydroplane historian Fred Farley’s extensive story.)

Thanks to speeds up to 200 mph in the straightaways and G-force-generating turns, the main attraction and crowd favorite is the H1 Unlimited tour, which makes its final U.S. stop in San Diego. Eleven turbine-powered boats are scheduled to take to the 2 1/2-mile racecourse with qualifying on Friday and heat races on Saturday and Sunday.

The Graham Trucking team will be back to defend its 2013 Bill Muncey Cup but this time with a different driver—J. Michael Kelly—behind the wheel. Last year’s Bayfair champion driver Jimmy Shane has moved on to pilot the Oh Boy! Oberto boat and currently leads the National High Points Championship by 923 points. H1 Unlimited’s final tour stop of the season is in Doha, Qatar, in November.

The Grand Prix West hydroplanes also bring some thunder to the water. A smaller version of an Unlimited hydroplane, the Grand Prix West boats are a major draw because of the piston engines and noise. In addition, more than 60 boats in smaller classes will compete all weekend on Crown Point.

“We are proud to continue the tradition that was started by the legendary hydroplane driver Bill Muncey,” said Jeff Thomas, president of the San Diego Bayfair Board of Directors. “Bayfair has evolved into a family event with not only great racing on the water but plenty of activities on land.”

To recognize Muncey, who died in a boat-racing crash in Acapulco, Mexico, in October 1981, the Muncey Memorial will be re-dedicated on Saturday. Also for the anniversary, organizers added some new events to the three-day lineup. The Thunder Rod Nationals Car Show will feature more than 100 classic trucks, cars, hot rods, modern rollers and vintage exotics throughout the weekend on Crown Point. Proceeds from the car show will benefit the Wounded Warriors Homes in San Diego. Daily live music featuring a dozen of the San Diego region’s up-and-coming bands is on tap as well.

Attendees also will get the rare chance to see a floating Ferrari from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! take to the water on Saturday. The life-size replica of a Ferrari F50 was handmade out of wood by a craftsman in Italy. The boat, which is on special exhibit at the San Diego Air & Space Museum through year’s end, will make its first voyage in the U.S. It will be on display through the weekend at Bayfair.

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