April 29, 2016 Louisville, KY. – Perfect weather conditions enabled 25 balloons to take off in the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Rush Hour Race this morning. This is the twelfth 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 light wind took the balloons south into the Fern Creek.
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 46 minutes before landing in neighborhood off South Watterson Trail. 7 of the pilots made a measurable toss of their bag of Kentucky bluegrass seed near the target, a giant vinyl U.S. Bank “X.”
With two races planned for the weekend, the overall winner will be chosen based on a points system. Based on this morning’s race, the Harbor House balloon, piloted by Tom Steinbock, is the front runner. Tom Steinbock came within 6 feet, 4 inches of the target laid out by race sponsor and hare balloon U.S. Bank.
Pilots picked their positions for tonight’s U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glow at the BalloonFest Position Draw Luncheon held this afternoon. The 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 Q103.1. The event will also be broadcast live by WLKY TV on MeTV Louisville 32.2. The final event on the U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest schedule is the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race at 7 a.m. tomorrow.
Also at today’s luncheon, a winning charity – House of Ruth – was drawn to receive $1,000 from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation. The drawing was held after the U.S. Bank Derby Festival Great Balloon Charity Race was cancelled on Friday morning. House of Ruth will be presented a check at the BalloonFest Awards Luncheon on Saturday.
Last night’s U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glimmer was a hit at the Waterfront! Conditions, while a little windy, drew a crowd of over 4,000 to the Great Lawn. 19 balloons participated in the annual ‘mini-glow’ at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville.
Since the first Great Balloon Race was held in 1973, the Derby Festival’s balloon events have been considered among the best in the country by pilots from all around the world. BalloonFest attractions are annually among the most popular family-friendly events on the Derby Festival schedule.
The Kentucky Derby Festival Great BalloonFest is sponsored by U.S. Bank with Contributing Sponsors Mortenson Family Dental and Publishers Press. 99.7 DJX is Media Sponsor of the Rush Hour Race and Great Balloon Race. Q103.1 is Media Sponsor of the Great Balloon Glow. WLKY TV is the TV broadcast partner for the Glow.