April 24, 2015 Louisville, KY.  – Near perfect weather conditions enabled 26 balloons to take off in the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Rush Hour Race this morning.  This is the eleventh year for the drive-time race event, which was added to the Festival’s BalloonFest schedule in 2005.  The competition got underway just after 7 AM at Bowman Field, as the wind took the balloons north/northwest into Champions Park on River Road, as well as Southern Indiana.

The  25 “Hound” balloons took off from Bowman Field in “chase” of the “Hare” – U.S. Bank balloon, piloted by Scott McClinton.  McClinton flew for a little over an hour before landing in Champions Park.  23 balloons made a measurable toss of their bag of Kentucky bluegrass seed within a 100 feet of the target, a giant vinyl U.S. Bank “X.”

Due to the inclement weather forecast for Saturday, the Kentucky Derby Festival will move the traditional Saturday morning U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race to Friday evening at 5:30 p.m.  The race will launch from Bowman Field.

“Our goal is always to get as many of our balloon events off the ground as weather allows,” said George Troutman, Derby Festival’s Balloonmeister.  “The forecast for later this afternoon is too perfect for a balloon race to pass up.”

With two races planned, the overall winner will be chosen based on a points system.  Based on this morning’s race, the Premiere Home Care balloon, piloted by Roy Stinson, is the front runner.  Stinson came within 11 inches of the target laid out by race sponsor and hare balloon U.S. Bank.

PLACE                        BALLOON                             PILOT                                 DISTANCE

FIRST                    Premiere Home Care, Inc.      Roy Stinson                          11 inches

SECOND              Kroger                                           Tim Basey                            1 foot, 10 inches

THIRD                 Sunny Side of Louisville            Dan Hoehler                         2 feet, 3 inches

FOURTH              Norton Healthcare                    Stuart Crawford                    3 feet

FIFTH                  Jasper Engines and Transmissions    Sean Askren                3 feet, 2 inches

                        (Last year’s winner)

The U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glow is scheduled for tonight at 9 p.m. at the Kentucky Exposition Center.  Glow spectators are encouraged to come out early (gates open at 6 p.m.) and make an evening out of it. At 9 p.m., the balloon pilots will fire their burners, making the balloons glow against the night sky synchronized to a musical score provided by New Country Q103.1. The event will also be broadcast live on MeTV Louisville 32.2.

The Kentucky Derby Festival Great BalloonFest is sponsored by U.S. Bank with Contributing Sponsor Publishers Printing Company. 102.3 The Max is Media Sponsor of the Rush Hour Race and Great Balloon Race.  New Country Q103.1 is Media Sponsor of the Great Balloon Glow.  WLKY TV is the TV broadcast partner for the Glow.