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`Thunder on the Niagara` file photo
"Thunder on the Niagara" file photo

'Thunder on the Niagara' returns to North Tonawanda's Gratwick Park


Wed, Jul 19th 2023 07:00 am

Event set for Aug. 5-6

Submitted by Catherine Schwab

Niagara Frontier Boat Racing Association and “Thunder on the Niagara” Contributor

The Niagara Frontier Boat Racing Association and Hydroplane Racing League of Canada are pleased to announce this year’s “Thunder on the Niagara” boat racing event will return to Gratwick Park, North Tonawanda, Aug. 5 and 6. The major sponsor for this year is GP:50 NY Ltd, a producer of reliable and accurate pressure, level, and temperature sensors located on Grand Island. 

The annual “Thunder on the Niagara” boat race is a spectacular, two-day event where over 50 race teams will vie for class top honors, points and awards as part of the HRL racing series. Attended by thousands of local and distant fans, spectators will have the opportunity to listen to the thunderous roar as they watch these high-performance hydroplanes reach speeds of up to 170 mph in the Grand Prix class. These craft can be viewed in action on the Niagara River both days beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing through to 4:30 p.m.

A number of race boats and teams have WNY connections. The Cents Less Team will be well-represented with Ken Brodie Jr. at the wheel of the GP-50 entry, and his son, Ken Brodie III, representing the family in the 2.5 class as driver of the S-50 hydroplane Cents Less 15. A long-time member of the Grand Prix team, young Ken is looking forward to experiencing this year’s “Thunder on the Niagara” as a team racer.

The Don Less family racing members have been skillfully assisted for many years by their hard-working, top-ranked crew, including members Hank Armstrong, John Nebelecky and Sal Wakefield.

A variety of food vendors will again accompany this year’s event, with a vast array of hot and cold, savory and sweet food selections that will be sure to satisfy your cravings. Along with them will be a number of craft vendors showcasing their clothing, souvenirs, and other fine products and memorabilia. Lyle Dinsmore’s Miss Gangway, an H-6 vintage Lauterbach hydroplane, will also run flyby laps for the fans’ entertainment both days. 

The weekend will be highlighted by 10 Grand Prix boats, coming from the U.S., Canada and New Zealand. So, bring the sunscreen or rain gear for whatever the weather dictates, perhaps an extra chair or two, and get ready to hear the roar with another exciting “Thunder on the Niagara” event!

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