Louisiana Team Joins Entries for World Championship Running of the Tubs Bathtub Races, Widens Scope of Out-of-State Teams in 2019 Edition of Event Scheduled for June 1 on Bathhouse Row | Hot Springs National Park Arkansas

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Louisiana Team Joins Entries for World Championship Running of the Tubs Bathtub Races, Widens Scope of Out-of-State Teams in 2019 Edition of Event Scheduled for June 1 on Bathhouse Row

Published: 5/20/2019

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.

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: 

  1. Any authentic bathtub (old or new) may be entered. Tubs must be no smaller than forty-eight (48) inches long and twenty-four (24) inches wide.
  2. The wheels on the tub must be no bigger than thirty (30) inches diameter mounted on axles no more than forty-four (44) inches wide.  Casters or rollers are not allowed.
  3. No motors or mechanical devices can be used to push the tub.  The four members of the team, not in the tub, must power the tub the entire length of the race.
  4. Each team must consist of five (5) members:  a captain, who must ride in the tub; a Bath Towel Attendant; a Bath Mat Attendant; a Soap Attendant; a Loofah Mitt Attendant.  All team members must be over eighteen (18) years of age and must sign a liability release form prior to the start of the race.
  5. During The Running Of The Tubs each team member must keep one hand on the tub at all times.  In addition, the attendants must hold in their other hands, their particular item.  Example:  The Soap Attendant must keep one hand on the tub and hold a bar of soap in the other hand.  The Loofah Mitt Attendant must wear the loofah mitt on one hand, and hold onto the tub with the other hand.  No exceptions to this rule!  If any team member drops his/her item, the tub must stop until that team member retrieves his/her item.  The team must then make one complete circle of the tub before the team can restart the tub.  If any team member lets go of the tub for any reason, the tub must stop and all attendants must change positions before the tub restarts.
  6. Each team crossing the finish line must still have in its possession:  the bar of soap, the bath mat, the loofah mitt and the bath towel – or the team will be disqualified.
  7. The bathtub must be full of water at the start of the race and have at least 10 gallons of water left in the tub at the finish line.  If the Judges find less than 10 gallons of water left in the tub – that team will be disqualified.  The Judges will have the final say on how the volume of water is measured.  Anyone who argues with a Judge will never be allowed to bathe on Central Avenue again, or until another Arkansan is elected President of the United States of America, whichever comes first!
  8. The four team members pushing the tubs must wear hats of some size and shape, and also some suspenders.
  9. Water balloons, costumes, and race strategies – everything goes in this contest.  In fact, it is encouraged!
  10. The Running Of The Tubs Judges will have the final say in ALL AREAS of The Running Of The Tubs.  They have the final word on everything!
  11. The Downtown Association of Hot Springs will announce the names of the Running Of The Tubs Judges at a later date. 
  12. The winning team in each division will receive a traveling winner’s trophy, The Pennington Cup – the highest honor in bathtub racing, that they will get to display until next year’s contest.  Each individual team member will receive an individual prize.  Three additional trophies will be given, one for the Most Original Tub, one for the Most Spirited Tub and one for the Best Overall Tub.
  13. All teams must have their bathtub in place in the plaza area of the Hill Wheatley Plaza by 6 p.m. on Friday, June 1.  The Plaza Area will have open access for each team all day on Friday, which will allow teams to put the finishing touches on their bathtubs. 
  14. There is a $25 entry fee for each bathtub team.  Checks, made payable to Visit Hot Springs, must be submitted with the completed forms.  Deadline for entries is noon, Friday, May 17, 2019.  Anyone crazy enough to enter this contest must have their entry form, check and team waivers submitted by noon on May 17 – NO EXCEPTIONS.
  15. Be assured – there will be more rules!!  Participants are subject to the whim of the Judges at all times!!!!!!!
  16. Additional Rules for bonus points and leads.
    • No Thongs.
    • A flag or pennant hoisted on a minimum three-foot pole and attached to the tub.
    • Extra points for Bribes.
    • “Head starts” may be given according to the Judges’ mood at any given time. 

“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.

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