HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — The Weirdos from Texas are coming back. And they’ll be joined by a bunch from Tennessee. They’ll be competing on June 3 in the 2023 Stueart Pennington World Championship Running of the Tubs bathtub races on World Famous Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs.
“The Weirdos organization will return to Hot Springs with Team Flavortub in an attempt to regain the Modified World Championship crown that they lost in 2021,” Visit Hot Springs Marketing Director Bill Solleder said. “The Texans sat out in 2022 after losing the title, but they’ve signaled a return to the fierce competition that reigns in the Running of the Tubs. Plus, we’ll have a second out-of-state team competing representing the State of Tennessee — the Shake and Bathe Team from Memphis, competing for HD Bath Solutions.”
“It’s great to have two out-of-state teams competing in this hilarious event in the heart of downtown Hot Springs along World Famous Bathhouse Row,” Solleder said. “They’ll be joined by local competitors in our event, which has brought so much positive attention to the city whose motto used to be ‘We Bathe the World,’” Solleder said. “The thermal waters that gave our town its name are still in use in bathhouses and spas in the downtown area.”
“Us Weirdos are excited to return to tub racing in 2023 after missing last year,” Austin team captain Brett Beeler said. “We love representing Texas and adding some out-of-state spiciness to the competition.”
“Every year we are really blown away by the warmth and hospitality shown by the residents of Hot Springs towards us out-of-staters,” Beeler said. “Every year, people come up to us at the race and say they are visiting from Texas and love having a home team to root for.”
“We’re not sponsored by a business, we are just five friends that love doing this race for fun because of the goofiness and unrivaled Hot Springs hospitality, but it’s still a real competition and we get really hyped trying to win that trophy with the shiny gold bathtub on the top of it.
“One of our favorite parts of competing is brainstorming themes for our costumes and tub decoration and we’re excited about the theme we have this year. It will be hard to top our last theme in 2021 when we were all wearing skirts and dressed like Girl Scouts, but our theme this year promises to be extra ‘flavorful.’
“We plan to bring that trophy back to Texas where it belongs! The local teams better start training now, because us Austin Weirdos are coming to win. We are extra thirsty because it’s been four years since we won it all.”
Memphis team captain Lyndsey Woods said, “We are so thrilled to be a part of this event! Our team members all frequent Hot Springs every year and we caught wind of the Running of the Tubs event while we were there visiting last year while talking to some people at the Ohio Club.”
“With two of us owning HD Bath Solutions, a bathroom remodeling company here in Memphis, we just knew we had to participate,” Woods said. “With it being such a fun event, our friends were super excited to join in, and we’ve been working really hard on the tub and our tub training.
“Honestly it’s really been a great motivation for our New Year’s fitness goals. Our inspiration for the team name and bathtub design is from the movie ‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,’ and the team motto is, ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last!.’ We look forward to our first of many championship runs! Shake-N-Bathe!“
The bathtub races, which began in 2005, were canceled in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic. This year’s event will be the 17th running of the event. The races will begin at 9 a.m. June 3 from the starting line in front of the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa at the north end of the famed bathhouses along Central Avenue.
Bathtub racers compete in three divisions: Traditional Division (cast iron tubs); the Modified Division (fiberglass or plastic tubs); the Stock Tub Division (for teams from nonprofit organizations). Solleder said slots remain open for entries in all three divisions. For information on entries call Bill Solleder or Alexis Hampo at 501-321-2027.
The Hot Springs Fire Department and the Hot Springs Police Department will renew their no-holds-barred rivalry in the Battle of the Badge.
The Running of the Tubs is named in honor of the late Hot Springs businessman Stueart Pennington, who advocated tirelessly for the establishment of bathtub races to emphasize Hot Springs’ reputation as a thermal bathing mecca. The annual Judging of the Tubs will be held Friday, June 2, at, 6 p.m. at Hill Wheatley Plaza.
“The Running of the Tubs is another of the great family-friendly celebrations that are so popular with our residents and visitors,” Solleder said. “The crowds lining Bathhouse Row and joining in the wacky fun by shooting Super Soakers at the racers have been growing every year as word spreads about this super free event.”
The incredibly arcane (and endlessly fluid) rules for the races include:
• The Running of the Tubs will be held in front of Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, on Saturday, June 3, 2023. 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 guidelines and rules, which are subject to change at the whim of the judges, include:
- 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.
- The wheels on the tub must be no bigger than thirty (30) inches in diameter and mounted on axles no more than forty-four (44) inches wide. Casters or rollers are not allowed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- The four team members pushing the tubs must wear hats of some size and shape, and also some suspenders.
- Super Soakers, costumes, and race strategies – everything goes in this contest. In fact, it is encouraged!
- 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!
- The Downtown Association of Hot Springs will announce the names of the Running Of The Tubs Judges at a later date.
- 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.
- All teams must have their bathtub in place in the plaza area of the Hill Wheatley Plaza by 6 p.m. on Friday, June 2. 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.
- Be assured – there will be more rules!! Participants are subject to the whim of the Judges at all times!!!!!!!
- 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.