First time win for pilot Sean Askren

April 26, 2014 Louisville, KY.  Near perfect weather conditions enabled 31 balloons to take off in the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race this morning.  The competition got underway at 7 AM at Bowman Field, as the wind took the balloons north/northeast to E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.

The  30 “Hound” balloons took off from Bowman Field in “chase” of the “Hare” – U.S. Bank balloon, piloted by Scott McClinton.   McClinton flew for 30- 40 minutes before landing in the park.  16 of the pilots made a measurable toss of their bag of Kentucky bluegrass seed near the target, a giant vinyl U.S. Bank “X.”

Results of this morning’s race were announced at the annual U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest Awards Luncheon. The Jasper Engines & Transmissions balloon, piloted by Sean Askren, was named winner of the U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest.  This is Askren’s first win in the U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest, and his fifth year participating in the event.  His bag of seed came within 1 foot, 2 inches of the target.  Askren wins $1,000, plus a complimentary entry for Jasper Engines & Transmissions in the 2015 U.S. Bank Derby Festival Great BalloonFest.


PLACE                        BALLOON                                                                       PILOT                                    DISTANCE

FIRST                    Jasper Engines & Transmissions                                    Sean Askren                         1 foot, 2 inches

SECOND              RE/MAX                                                                                 Stuart Enloe                         1 foot, 3 inches

THIRD                   Park Community Federal Credit Union                           Travis Vencel                       1 foot, 11 inches

FOURTH              Kroger                                                                                   Tim Basey                             3 feet, 11 inches

FIFTH                    Tran Orthodontics                                                               Nick Donner                         6 feet, 7 inches


During the luncheon, pilots and sponsors are honored for consecutive years of participation in the event.  Balloonmeister George Troutman was honored for 40 years of service to the event.  He received the Derby Festival’s 2014 Volunteer of the Year Award.  Pilot John Freeman was also honored for 40 years of participation.  U.S. Bank was honored for 25 consecutive years of participation; both Mortenson Family Dental and Park Community Federal Credit Union have 10 years of participation; Kroger and Oliver Winery were honored for 5 years of participation.

This was the fifth of five ballooning events that are part of the U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest, which kicked off on Thursday with the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Crew Challenge and Glimmer.  Friday morning’s U.S. Great Balloon Race was cancelled due to inclement weather, but conditions were perfect for last night’s Great Balloon Glow at Kentucky Exposition Center.  A crowd estimated at 63,000 gathered to see the static luminary of the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glow last night at the Kentucky Exposition Center.  The BalloonFest is sponsored by U.S. Bank.

The Derby Festival balloon events remain one of Louisville’s favorite family traditions.  The race is regarded by pilots as one of the country’s most prestigious balloon events and began in 1973 with nine balloons flying in the inaugural launch from Iroquois Park.