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University Hoverbowl Challenge In Alabama

Saturday, Apr 27, 2013, 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM
Lake Lurleen State Park
13226 Lake Lurleen Road
Coker, AL  35452
Kent Gano
Racing events
Registration is Recommended
Registrants & Fees
CruisersNo Fee
Junior RacersNo Fee
Members without HovercraftNo Fee
Non membersNo Fee
RacersNo Fee

The IRON-BOWL of Hovercraft racing is coming to Coker, AL  April 27, 2013



In a first of its kind Hovercraft Race Event, Hovercraft racing teams from the University of Alabama and Auburn University will be coming together for the University Hoverbowl Challenge.
The race will take place April 27, 2013 at Lake Lurleen state park, Coker, AL.

The following is re-printed from Ben Flanagan's BLOG at :

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- Tuscaloosa better prepare itself for the Iron Bowl of hovercraft racing.

If you thought such a thing didn't exist, you were right. That is, until this spring when the newly formed University of Alabama Hovercraft Team will race Auburn's squad on Lake Lurleen on April 27.

Racing should start around 9 or 10 a.m. that Saturday, with three heats and a one-hour endurance race on Sunday.

"It's just like any racing," said Hoverclub of America's Kent Gano, who is currently advising UA's club and has worked with Auburn's in the past. "It's watching guys take on each other, passing each other, once in a while making a mistake and going for a swim."

The UA club is headed by senior aerospace engineering major and Muscle Shoals native Hisham Ali, 22, who formed the club and began building a hovercraft with colleagues Dillan Malone (from Roberstdale, Ala.), Alan Hawkins (Albertville), Michael Bradshaw (Memphis, Tenn) and Mark Wysock (Huntsville).

The team is still building its hovercraft but will finish in time for the March races. Malone said an email Ali sent last summer is what sparked the initial interest among the students.

"It sounded like a cool idea," Malone said. "I grew up on motorcycles and four-wheelers, racing those. It seemed pretty similar, so I jumped on it. It's something different, something we get to ride on instead of something that walks around by itself."

Ali said he then contacted the Auburn club to see if they wanted to maybe test the waters and establish a hovercraft race in the South, and a partnership soon formed. The club also got in touch with Gano, who was racing in Germany at the time. Gano then took a meeting with the UA team and helped put them in touch with people at Lake Lurleen, who were game but slightly apprehensive about possible damage the race could cause the environment.

"But we showed her that you could take one of these over a carton of eggs and not break any of the eggs because of the low pressure," Ali said.

So the squad started making plans for the an official hover club event, now called the University Hover Challenge. This marks UA's first-ever race, while Auburn has had a club since 2003.

"We're kind of the new kid on the block," Ali said.

Ali visited AU's team last November to get some pointers and observe their hovercraft, which he says is made out of carbon fiber and uses an old snowmobile engine.

The cost for UA's hovercraft runs about $5,000 overall, especially since the team is in a hurry to finish building it and can't use cheap parts. The hull is made from fiberglass, Ali said. The ultra-light engine costs roughly $2,000.

Gano, who lives in Cummings, Ga., came to Tuscaloosa to bring some advice as well as his hovercraft so the students could take a closer look at the specs while building their own.

So far, he's impressed with what the UA students have in Hardaway Hall and thinks Tuscaloosa is in for quite a show in March.

"It looks really good," Gano says. "It ought to turn out very well for them."


Event Media Information

Media sites:
Click on this link for more information as reported by

Camping and Entry fees

Entrance fees into the Park are $3 per person, for all persons.  
We will be camping in one of the designated camp areas near the race site.  Camping fees for basic sites (with water and electric hookup) are $19/night plus tax.  Click here for complete information from Lake Lurleen State Park Web Site.  We have permission to place two tents per site, for a max. of 4 people per site.  Campers do not have to pay the $3 park entry fee.

Schedule of Events:


Friday – Arrival and Setup 
10:00 am Race Course Construction and Setup
4:00 pm Participant Arrival and Paddock Setup 

Saturday – University Challenge Endurance race

Volunteer meeting at 08:00
Driver registration at 08:30
Drivers meeting at 09:00
Endurance Race 1  begins at 10:00
1 hour break. HCA Cruisers show off around the lake.
Endurance Race 2 begins at 12:00
1 hour break. HCA Cruisers show off around the lake.
Endurance race 3 begins at 14:00
(schedule is subject to change depending on participants reliability)

Course breakdown by 16:30.

Awards Banquet at 18:30.  
$12.00 per person to have the meal.
Presentation by Bob Windt, The Godfather of Hovercraft in the USA!

Volunteers Needed:


If you are able to help on race day please contact Kent Gano 

Photos from the Race site 

Lake Lurleen - Alabama Hoverbowl site

Race Course Map

Lake Lurleen State Park Map