Sinking hydroplane racing seeks to restore roar

The throngs used to number 400,000, and the city would close off Jefferson Avenue, much of the riverfront and bring the drivers and crews in with police escorts.That was hydroplane racing in Detroit in the 1960s.Motorsports enthusiasts and folks who just plain liked high-performance engines would come early, set up family picnics and stay for sporadic racing, maybe four or five events, all day.No longer.The crowd estimates are about 12-18 percent of what they were decades ago.Hydroplane racing has grappled with declining popularity for decades. Some involved in it reflexively recite the reasons, including the loss of the big roar from the old piston motors, not enough racing during long days on the water, too few boats competing and not enough competition among the boats that do race.Hydroplane racing also faces new trends discouraging interest in other motorsports, including a generation less interested in automobiles and motors and increasingly short attention spans.

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