Hydros for Heroes: Pandemic concerns take out last big event of summer

— Created August 12, 2020 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Save the date!

The 2020 Hydros for Heroes event set for September 11-13 in Oak Harbor, has been canceled. Organizers held out hope as long as possible, but finally had to come to a tough decision.

“The racing business is all about safety, from every single angle,” said Hydros for Heroes Race Director  Jim Woessner. “This is no different – it’s a safety issue. We examined it, came up with a plan and felt we could protect it to a certain extent. But this is a regional event and we had to consider bringing in groups from other areas – there’s no way to prevent this – and just felt it was not right to put the community in jeopardy.”

So, the bad news is that Hydros for Heroes won’t be happening next month. But there is a very big silver lining, according to Woessner.

“The beauty is we have a date for next year – July 31/August 1,” he said. “Normally the date for next year is not set until December. We’re always fighting for a date. We’re tidal-related as well as weather-related and it has to fall on a weekend during the three months of summer when people want to show up and watch the races. Plus, we have to fight for dates because we’re up against other events.

“Fortunately this year, we had tides coincide with a weird calendar event, the split weekend at the end of July, beginning of August,” Woessner continued. “Tri Cities has its big, unlimited national event always the last weekend of July and Seafair is always the first weekend in August and they’re not going to move either of those events. So, well, it all lined up perfectly for us.”

Part of the reason Woessner believes they were able to set the date for next year already, besides the tides aligning that weekend, is the reputation Oak Harbor is gaining as a great racing venue and a congenial host city.

“The reality is, these guys feel the genuineness, the community support,” he said. “No city or community supports these racers like Oak Harbor does. The racers love the course, the facilities they get to use – that’s just huge. People here in the community have to take much of the credit.

“Racers get to be able to camp, hang out in downtown Oak Harbor, walk to stores and shops,” Woessner continued. “They get to interact with the community. A lot of traditions have started here, like the Oak Harbor potluck, one of the few where all the racers get together for a big potluck Saturday night. Another idea that’s caught on has been having military personnel be part of the volunteer pit group. That’s been adopted at most races in Region 10 and is being adopted in neighboring regions. The crews just love it.”

Hydros for Heroes, which is underwritten by the Craig McKenzie Team of Keller Williams Western Realty and other sponsors, is a fundraiser for the Oak Harbor Rotary Club, which uses monies raised from the races to fund its community outreach programs such scholarships for high school students and its Food4Kids Backpack program.

“Hydros for Heroes is a community event, we do it as a charitable fundraiser,” said Woessner. “We do this for no other reason than to see the smiles on everybody’s faces. But it’s just not a fair trade off for putting the community in jeopardy. We had to look at all safety aspects from A to Z and the volunteers have had such fortitude to continue planning and moving forward in these crazy times. They continued to work on it knowing this [cancellation] might happen.”

Typically, planning for the next Hydros for Heroes event begins as soon as the current event ends. Woessner said much of the time and effort that have been put into this year’s now-cancelled event puts them in a better position for next year’s.

“I think we’ll be able to hit the ground running, with that much more time to make 2021 even better, to make up for the cancellation of 2020,” he said. “The reality is, we’ll be back and we’ll be strong. Unfortunately, some events we may not see come back from this and that’s sad. With so many traditions lost during this, we wanted to make sure we had some positive news to share. This event will survive. We’re ahead of the game and we’re ready to rock and roll.”

Find more information on hydrosforheroes.com.