Three Honored At Annual Regatta Dinner in Wheeling

VIP & Sponsor Dinner held at WesBanco Arena

Dozens of boat lovers prepare their crafts Friday for the annual Wheeling Vintage Raceboat Regatta. The event continues today at Wheeling’s Heritage Port. It runs through Sunday.

WHEELING — Participants and organizers of the annual Wheeling Vintage Raceboat Regatta gathered for a dinner Friday, where three people were recognized for their contributions with awards.

The VIP & Sponsor Dinner was held at WesBanco Arena, where the Henry Lauterbach Award was given to those who came from far and wide to participate in the weekend event.

Honored were Bobby Murray Jr., Harold Rurark and Steve Jones. They were recognized for their tireless participation: Murray and Jones as racers, and Rurark as a boat builder.

“Steve Jones has raced 68 different raceboats in his career — that’s a lot of boats,” said Larry Lauterbach, Henry’s son. “Over 100 career wins … every class, Steve Jones has raced.”

Jones, accepting the award, recalled the time in 1956 where he watched Henry Lauterbach take home an award. That sparked his love of racing.

“I was 14 years old at the time, and I said to my dad, ‘We need one of those boats one of these days,'” he recalled. “I wanted to carry on the Lauterbach tradition.”

Lauterbach recognized Rurark’s work building racing boats, and his son, Jimmy, praising them both highly.

“My dad respected Harold Rurark, and his son Jimmy,” he said. “They’re two of the finest people on this earth. It’s a great honor, and a great pride.”

The names of the winners are to be engraved on a large trophy, which will stay at the regatta. Individual awards were given to be taken home by the winners.

“It honors people who have done something real special in the history of the sport of inboard hydroplane racing,” said Deb Joseph, co-director of the regatta. “Their names go on the perpetual trophy, which stays here.”

The regatta serves as a fundraiser for Easter Seals. Deb Joseph said it has raised more than $70,000 over the past 12 years, with $8,000 being raised last year.

Also, about $1,500 was raised for the Niagara Dive Rescue Team, which works search and rescue missions for hydroplane races while also assisting police with such missions. Money was raised to help replace a motor on one of the team’s boats.

“We’ve had such a warm response, we really felt that we’ve become a part of this community,” said Terry Clark. “We hope to be back many, many times.”

“This group of ladies and gentlemen has become like family to us,” Joseph said.

Joseph said one of the NDRT’s boats was one of the rescue boats that helped first responders during Sept. 11.

Money was raised through the auction of various items — including a handmade set of model race boats — and rides on one of the boats during the Regatta itself. Additionally, a $500 donation was given by Penny Morris, chairwoman of the New Martinsville Vintage Raceboat Regatta Committee.

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