ST. MARIES — Speed will be on full display on the St. Joe River this weekend.
The annual Race the Joe jet boat races from St. Maries to Calder will be held from 10 a.m. to about 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The event kicks off Friday night on Main Street between Seventh and Tenth streets in St. Maries with a free boat show featuring race teams from 6 to 8 p.m.
“We are full speed ahead with plans to host an amazing community event that showcases our beautiful St. Joe River area,” said Shirley Ackerman, race director.
Ackerman said she anticipates more than 20 racing teams from around the world will register. Local drivers will include St. Maries’ Sam Badgett and Post Falls’ Ross Schlotthauer.
Speeds of the boats in the Unlimited class reach as high as 140 mph. Teams are timed on the course individually rather than race side by side.
Referees estimated 15,000 people watched last year’s event.
The 25-mile course runs from the Idaho Forest Industries Landing about 2 miles upstream from St. Maries to Calder.
Popular places to watch the action are near the Cutthroat Resort, formerly the Big Eddy, on the railroad bridge near Falls Creek and at the Idaho Forest Industries Landing, where there will be food, drinks, race apparel and programs.
Viewing is allowed from any public access point along the course.
“Spectators should stay at least 50 feet from the edge of the water,” Ackerman said. “All it takes is a split second for these boats to lose power or go out of control.”
Ackerman said she expects the races to be held even if it rains. The river water levels are adequate for the event, she said.
“We hope that the rain is minimal through the weekend, but the racing will go on regardless,” she said. “Spectators may just have to hunker down to watch. It’s a great community event to sit back and relax at.”
There will be five race classes.
“The race teams love seeing all the spectators along the course,” Ackerman said.
Racers must compete in the three jet river racing venues — Riggins, St. Maries and Lewiston — to be eligible for the USA1 title. The fastest overall accumulated time wins the title.
For more information, call the St. Maries Chamber of Commerce at (208) 245-3563 or 208-596-1103 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.