GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Next week will bring speeds of more than 200 miles an hour to Lake Guntersville. Guntersville Lake HydroFest is June 22 - 24.
People call the race NASCAR on the water. The hydroplanes have turbine engines and race on a two-mile oval course at 130 to more than 200 miles an hour.
It's about to get loud in Guntersville.
“We’re expecting between 15 to 20,000 people which is pretty much doubling the size of our city… tripling the size of our city,” said Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau communications director John Davis Rollings.
H1 Unlimited hydroplanes hold the title as the fastest racing boats in the world. The races are usually held in Detroit, Seattle, San Diego and other large cities every year. The season kicks off in Guntersville.
HydroFest will feature the H1 Unlimiteds, the Grand Prix World hydros, stock outboard demos, and a Wakeboard Exhibition. There will be displays at the venue, a boat show, and activities.
You can buy tickets online. Organizers say don't wait, because the price will go up as the event gets closer.
• Adult general admission: $20 per weekend pass
• Children, ages 6-12 general admission: $10 per weekend pass (children age 5 and under will be free)
Pit Passes will be available for $20 per pass and include transportation to and from the pit area and a guided tour with history of Guntersville boat racing. No open-toed shoes are allowed in the pit area.
You can buy tickets at Gate 1 the day of the event at the Guntersville Rec Center, but note they will cost more.
Personal tent spaces are sold out, but you can bring chairs, blankets, and an umbrella. You can't bring grills, drones, pets, weapons or bikes. “You can bring a soft shell cooler full of anything that you want except for alcohol. Alcohol will be for sale inside the event venue,” Rollings said
“The event venue will span from the Guntersville Recreation Center all the way to the water treatment plant on Sunset Drive, which is approximately 1.3 miles."
Parking will be offsite with bus transportation running from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
If you're traveling U.S. Highway 431 North from Birmingham/Gadsden/Anniston, parking will be best at Guntersville High School , Bucky Howe Park , or Cherokee Elementary School.
Visitors traveling Highway 79 North from Birmingham should head to Cherokee Elementary School.
Visitors coming off U.S. Highway 431 South from Huntsville can park at County Park 1 , Conner's Island Industrial Park, Guntersville City Harbor, or Guntersville Downtown Parking Decks.
A concert featuring A Thousand Horses and Suzi Oravec is planned at the Lurleen B. Wallace pavilion on Saturday evening at 7:00. Tickets for the concert can be purchased either separately or as an addition to the weekend pass for $5. The CVB notes if you are planning to attend both Guntersville Lake HydroFest and the Guntersville Lake HydroFest Concert on the Rocks, you can park within walking distance of the venue and the concert venue, as transportation to and from these lots will not be provided. Those options include Guntersville Middle School, Civitan Park, Guntersville Farmers Market , and Ogletree Park.
For the people who call Guntersville home, there are a few things to note. First, it will be loud. “Racing starts every day at 10 a.m. and will close around five. The gates open at eight,” Rollings said. Second, if your route takes you through Sunset Drive, you'll need to rethink your driving plan. “People who live in Guntersville should avoid Sunset. It’s closed to residential traffic only and those residents will have resident passes.”
If you have a boat, it's very limited, but you can watch from the water. The CVB says boats must be able to come under the Highway 69 causeway bridge, which has a clearance of eight feet. Boats will be allowed under the bridge each morning from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. After 8, bridge access will close until noon. It will reopen from noon until 1:30 p.m. and boats will be able to move in and out of the designated area. After 1:30 p.m., the bridge will close again until 5 p.m.
This event is rain or shine.