HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — A team of bathtub racers from Shreveport has joined the returning Austin, Texas, team to widen the out-of-state scope for the 14th Annual Stueart Pennington World Championship Running Of The Tubs schedule for Saturday, June 1, along World Famous Bathhouse Row.
“On Thursday we received the entry forms from the Treasure Isle RV Park Team,” said Bill Solleder, marketing manager for Visit Hot Springs, which organizes the bathtub races. “The RV park is here in Hot Springs, but all the members of the racing team are from Louisiana.
“They’ll join the Austin Weirdos from Texas, who are returning for the third year, in widening the scope of out-of-state contenders. Brett Beeler of the Austin Weirdos told us, ‘We are out to bring the World Championship back to the great state of Texas,’ so we’ll see the rivalries begin to develop.”
Other first-time competitors this year will include teams from: Climate Control Heat and Air; Hale Entertainment; the Downtown Derby Dolls, Fat Jacks, and OReilly Auto Parts, Solleder said.
“The Derby Dolls, who are nearing completion of their tub, are throwing down the gauntlet to the Riser Ford Jaws team, who are looking to become the fourpeat Traditional Tub champions in this year’s races,” Solleder said. “The Derby Dolls say, ‘The Shark dynasty is over,’ for the Riser Ford Jaws team.”
In addition to the new entries, there are these returning competitors: Riser Ford, Hot Springs Police Department, Hot Springs Fire Department, Habitat for Humanity, The Arlington Hotel, Visit Hot Springs, Bathhouse Soapery, Quapaw Baths & Spa, LakePointe Church and The Austin Weirdos.
“Oh, yes,” Solleder said, “we are adding a new rule to the already-incredibly-complicated set of rules that govern The Running Of The Tubs. All tubs must have an ESPN, Visit Hot Springs and Bathhouse Soapery decal affixed to the outside of their tub and clearly visible. The decals are available at Visit Hot Springs offices in the Hot Springs Convention Center.”
ESPN Arkansas will be broadcasting live from the finish line at the south end of Bathhouse Row, the Bathhouse Soapery and Caldarium is the presenting sponsor of the races. In addition, the races will be streamed live by multiple cameras along the race course on Facebook and YouTube.
Spectators are encouraged to bring water balloons and water guns to “assist” the racing teams on their journey down Central Avenue. “Please throw the water balloons underhanded,” Solleder said.
The Running Of The Tubs will begin at 9 a.m. June 1, with the awards ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. in Hill Wheatley Plaza. On Friday, May 31, at 6 p.m. there will be the traditional Judging of the Tubs at Hill Wheatley Plaza. This year’s judges will be Steve Arrison, Leysa Lowery, Brian Leonard, Tammy Clampet, Marianne Chartrand, Mary Zunick, Robert Zunick, Clyde Covington, Maxwell Blade, Davis Tillman, Don Gooch, Charlene Simon, Justin Simon, Ed Davis and Bobby Graham. Those judges will also enforce the stupefyingly complicated and ever-changing rules during the races.
This is the second year of the tub races being designated as the World Championship of Bathtub Racing.
• The Running Of The Tubs will be held in front of Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, on Saturday, June 1, 2019. The event is a celebration of Hot Springs’ historic past when the city proclaimed, “We Bathe The World!” and is named in honor of Stueart Pennington, a well-known and respected downtown businessman. The event consists of teams pushing their bathtubs — on wheels of course — down Central Avenue, in front of Bathhouse Row, in Historic Downtown Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.
The incredibly arcane (and endlessly fluid) rules for the races this year include:
• In addition to the new decal requirement, the guidelines and rules, which are subject to change at the whim of the judges, are:
“The races were begun 14 years ago as the Steuart Pennington Running Of The Tubs, and Mr. Pennington will still be honored as the motivating force behind the event with the awarding of the Steuart Pennington Cup to the winning teams,” Solleder said. “Mr. Pennington was a long-time downtown merchant who pushed for the bathtub races to acknowledge Hot Springs’ rich history as a world-renowned thermal-bathing destination.”
“Arkansas hosts many unique, colorful and wacky events — a Turkey Drop in Yellville, Goat Fest, the World Championship Rotary Tiller Races, World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, cardboard boat races — but there is no event that is soaked in more dripping wet fun than the Stueart Pennington Running Of The Tubs (SPROTT) in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas,” he said.