Thunder on the Snake returns

Sep. 1—Rumbling engines and lightning speeds return to the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley today through Sunday with 15 teams competing in the annual Thunder on the Snake Marathon Jet Boat Race.

The official race will be held Saturday and Sunday but drivers and navigators will run training laps today as they look for hazards and identify the fastest lines, said race referee Tonya Kaschmitter.

The three-day event kicks off with a show and shine at 6 p.m. today at the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel in Lewiston.

On Saturday, racing begins at 9:15 a.m. with two 27-mile legs. The first will be between Hells Gate Marina and Bear Bar. The second leg, starting at 11:30 a.m., will be the return trip from Bear Bar back to Hells Gate Marina.

Saturday afternoon, racers will compete in staggered circuit races with mass starts by boat class between Hells Gate Marina and Three Mile Island starting at 1:45. They will make three laps on the circuit for a total of about 45 miles.

On Sunday, the racers will again complete a round trip between Hells Gate Marina and Bear Bar, with the first leg starting at 9:15 a.m. and the second at 11:15 a.m.

An awards ceremony will be held at the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel starting at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The race is normally held at the same time as Hot August Nights. Kaschmitter said it was pushed back a week this year to allow traveling teams to take advantage of the three-day weekend and to avoid making boat racing fans choose between Thunder on the Snake and Webb's Slough Sprint Boat Races held at St. John, Wash.

"Lot of people go up there that would still like to see the jet marathon races," she said.

Kaschmitter is pleased with the strength of the event. But organizers have this year added a new entry-level category, the MX Class, in an effort to let people interested in jet boat racing give it a try. One local team is participating in the class that requires racing hulls but stock engines.

"It's just kind of an experience for them to see if it's something they want to get into and participate in and grow with the sport."

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Barker may be contacted at or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.