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San Diego’s Bayfair could see some big changes this year including the potential return of the Unlimited hydroplanes and the addition of a major poker run.

bayfairThe annual event, which takes place Sept. 17-19, has seen its attendance decline in recent years and organizers hope the changes will bring race fans back to Mission Bay. Also in the works is a one-hour television show based on the weekend.

Although a final contract hasn’t been signed, H1 Unlimited is expected to return to San Diego after a one-year hiatus, said Brett Seber, a member of the Board of Governors for Thunderboats Unlimited of San Diego, which puts on the event.

“The (contract) numbers worked out, so I feel very comfortable that it’s going to happen,” Seber said.

In addition to the Unlimited hydroplanes, Bayfair is expected to have tunnel boats, Unlimited Lights and offshore races. But Seber is looking forward to the addition of a poker run, which is being organized by Desert Storm promoter Jim Nichols.

The poker-run event is expected to include a Puttin’ on the Wish event Thursday after the boats take over a section of Paradise Point. Nichols said they will have a fun run Friday and on Saturday they will run north to Oceanside. The biggest treat for the poker runners is that they will get a chance to run the 2 1/2-mile Unlimited course as part of the opening festivities.

Still up in the air is whether the drag boats will return to the event. Seber said they have had discussions with the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series but so far nothing has been worked out.

“We really want to turn it into a festival based around the water,” Seber said. “We’re excited with the direction it’s heading.”—Gregg Mansfield

(courtesy Powerboat magazine)