Sports

Thunder rolls back to Silverdale

Silverdale Thunder races hit the water Aug. 9-10, pre-party Aug. 8.

In a festival-loving county like Kitsap, it would seem that two days chock-full of hydroplane speedboat racing isn’t quite enough action for one weekend.

Enter: Kitsap party-thower-extraordinnaire John Miller, a man of many festivals, firework displays and firewood — the fuse of the fireworks for many Kitsap local events, also producer of local festivals like Port Gamble’s Old Mill Days and Civil War reenactments, and, inconsequentially, also a part-time firewood salesman.

Unlimited Light Hydroplane races — or for the layman, those really fast boats that come to town and make a ton of wake and ruckus and good times for one weekend out of the summer — have been somewhat of an institution on the Silverdale waterfront since 2005 when the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce invited the Unlimited Light Hydroplane Racing Association out for the Quiksilver races.

In 2007, after a few years of less-than-formidable revenue-generating success, the Chamber decided to cut its losses and step away from the partnership. The event costs upward of $60,000 to put on each year, and though the races did bring tourists to the area, the Chamber said it wasn’t seeing quite a good enough return.

“I was then aware of the downfall and the shortcomings and was asked if I could come in and help out,” Miller said. “And I said, ‘Wow, this seems pretty easy because hydros are hot’ ... hydroplanes are the hottest thing in Kitsap County right now.”

So he jumped into Silverdale Thunder, community members and partners rallied behind the event, and Miller said, “We are going to rock.”

He began his festival/party organizing career as a kid when he would organize events and parties for family and friends. His first real job in that vein came at a go-kart racetrack before he moved on into the world of fireworks and eventually Kitsap festivals. Now as he’s lined up three different entertainment stages along with a carnival and a beer garden featuring race-viewing flat screens to augment the main event hydro races, it would seem his organizing talents have all come together for this event.

“It’s about passion,” Miller said. “I have a passion for getting into festivals and having fun ... I give back to the community by doing these festivals.”

He said he’s put thousands of his own dollars into Silverdale Thunder, gambling on its success. Given the history of hydroplane racing in the Northwest — Seafair and the Slo-Mo-Shuns — it would seem Miller’s odds are pretty good. Before the Sonics, before the Seahawks, speed boating was Seattle’s first professional sport.

For more information on the new generation, visit www.ulhra.org. For more information on the Silverdale Thunder races, including entertainers, schedules, tickets and more, visit www.silverdalethunder.com.

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