Spirit of Detroit HydroFest | Annual Events

Metro Detroit's hydroplane boat race has been a tradition for more than a century

Watch Boats Race at More Than 200 Miles per Hour

A perennial summertime motor sports event in downtown Detroit, the Spirit of Detroit HydroFest gives spectators the opportunity to watch hydroplanes roar along the Detroit River from various viewing stations.

This race, which dates back to 1916, typically takes place on a 2.5-mile river course for boats that reach 200 mph. In the past, the HydroFest has attracted some 45,000 people for days of qualifying and racing. Hydroplane racing became a tradition in Detroit when designer Christopher Columbus Smith, of the Chris Craft boat company, built a Detroit-based boat that could crack the 60 miles-per-hour speed barrier, capturing the Gold Cup in 1915. Now, the H1 Unlimited Hydroplanes are the fastest circuit racing boats in the world, powered by turbine engines producing 3,000 horsepower. One of the best things to see at the HydroFest are the water pyrotechnics produced by the boats as they zoom across the water, including the 60-foot high, 300-foot long wall of water affectionately known as a “rooster tail.” Drivers are also know for turning left and hooking into the water with their boats' four-foot tall, 400-pound fin, which throws another wall of water that hangs in the air all the way through the turn. Want more? Find out why the HydroFest returned to Detroit.



Aug 23, 2019 - Aug 25, 2019