NANAIMO — The one-of-a-kind event that put Nanaimo on the map around the world is still surging in popularity more than 50 years later.
Two new events were added to the B.C.-wide bathtub racing circuit this week: a race in English Bay to compliment the 10th annual KitsFest celebrations in August and a new race in Tsawwassen the following week.
Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society commodore Greg Peacock said he was overwhelmed by what he called "bathtub groupies" at the media event announcing the launch of the KitsFest race.
"People are crazy. We had so many people climbing in this bathtub to get their picture taken at this announcement, they've all got a grin from ear-to-ear," Peacock said. "People were showing off their bathtub plugs from the 80s. One gentleman was showing me two passes he got from the very first bathtub race in 1967. This stuff sticks in people's brains."
Peacock said his focus as commodore has been to strengthen and build upon the races currently on the circuit, including events in Oak Bay, Sproat Lake and the Okanagan.
The Great International version of the race used to run across the Strait of Georgia, starting in Nanaimo and ending in English Bay. The concept was resurrected for a Canada 150 event and Peacock said officials in Vancouver were bullish on bringing it back in some form.
"Everywhere we go, everyone we talk to, everyone remembers the bathtub race...We have such a footprint from years gone by in Vancouver, it was no effort at all to get these people on board."
Spreading the bathtub brand is as much about inspiring more interest as it is about spreading the word about what Nanaimo is all about, Peacock said.
"It's all about community. For me, that's what the bathtub races mean to Nanaimo. We have a lot of fun and we're going to share it with you. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do and if you want this in your life and in your community, give us a call and we've got your back, we'll help you out.
"It takes a family and a team to support a bathtub racer."
New races on the other side of the Strait aren't the only thing in the works.
Peacock said they're planning a new Canada Day event and race in Nanaimo. There will be a beer garden, food trucks and other attractions set up at Departure Bay Beach and a small race course in the bay.
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