U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest: Great Balloon Race®

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Saturday, April 28, 2018
7:00 AM: Launch

 

The U.S. Bank Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Race is one of Louisville’s beloved family traditions.  In 2018, the Derby Festival will again feature both Friday and Saturday morning races.  The multi-race docket gives spectators young and old more chances to take in the exhilarating view of boundless colors and shapes.

Just 7 balloons flew in the inaugural race from Iroquois Park in 1973.

The Great Balloon Race is a Hare & Hound Race. This type of race is when all the balloons launch from the same site (Bowman Field). One balloon takes off first and is the Hare balloon (U.S. Bank Balloon piloted by Scott McClinton). The other balloons are called the Hounds, and they will launch a predetermined time after the hare (usually 5 to 10 minutes after). The Hare lands at a suitable site and lays out a large fabric X, usually about 50 feet in diameter. The Hound balloons attempt to drop their markers as close to the center of the X as possible. The closest marker achieves the highest score.

PAST WINNERS / SPONSOR (DISTANCE TO “X”)

1973 – Jimmy Crain / Non-commercial (400 yds.)
1974 – Mike Ehrler / Ehrler’s Dairy (93.7 yds.)
1975 – Tom Oerman / Sterling Beer (48.3 yds.)
1976 – Frank Otte / Frank Otte Nursery (4“)
1977 – Charlie Hurst / Falls City Beer (3 ft.)
1978 – Gary Lewis / Paine Webber (5“)
1979 – Bob Corey / KOOL (3 yds.)
1980 – John Freeman / International Harvest (187 yds.)
1981 – Ted Staley / Busch Beer (566 yds.)
1982 – Rocky Aoki / Benihana of Tokyo (1 ft., 10”)
1983 – Canceled due to rain
1984 – Mike Ehrler / Pepsi-Cola (6 ft., 8”)
1985 – Rick Arrington / Jefferson Animal (4 ft., 6”)
1986 – Bill Bussey / Stroh’s (6 ft., 6”) TIE
– Ed Vande Hoef / Chevron USA (6 ft., 6”) TIE
1987 – Mel Hanson / 7-Up (2 ft., 4”)
1988 – Phil Glebe / Pontiac (6″)
1989 – Canceled due to weather
1990 – Kevin Flanagan / Oldsmobile (3,733 pts – Double Task race)
1991 – Mel Hanson / Michelob Dry (4 ft.)
1992 – Canceled due to weather
1993 – Canceled due to weather
1994 – Jimmy Parker / BellSouth Mobility (70 ft., 4”)
1995 – Brian Beazly / Liberty National Bank (2,800 points – Double Task race)
1996 – Jerry Mitchell / Great Financial Bank (4 ft., 7.5”)
1997 – Jimmy Litsey / Westport Road Baptist (9,376 points – Double Task race)
1998 – Scott McClinton / Pennzoil Products Co. (2 ft., 6”)
1999 – Jimmy Litsey / Westport Road Baptist Church (1 ft.)
2000 – Tim Basey / Bank of Louisville (52 ft.)
2001 – Mike Erhler / Udder Delight (6 ft. 6”)
2002 – Mike Erhler / Udder Delight (3ft. 8”)
2003 – David Bradley / Bellsouth Real Yellow Pages (8”)
2004 – Dan Hoehler / Caritas Health Services (11.5”)
2005 – Nick Donner / Tran Orthodontics (1 ft., 3”)
2006 – Frank Prell / Promenade Plaza (2,378 points – Double Task race)
2007 – Brian Trapp / Re/Max (5.5”)
2008 – Ray Donner / UAW Ford (1,522 points – Double Task race)
2009 – Chase Donner / University of Louisville (11 ft., 7”)
2010 – Canceled due to weather
2011 – Peyton Hoge / Central American Airways (1,865 points – Double Task race)
2012 – Canceled due to weather
2013 – Jerry Copas / French Lick Resort (1 ft., 2”)
2014 – Sean Askren / Jasper Engines & Transmissions (1 ft., 2”)
2015 – Joe Zvada / Curves (9 ft., 3″)
2016 – Tom Steinbock / Harbor House of Louisville (6 ft., 4″)

April 19 - April 29
April 26 - May 4
April 26 - May 4