Clark County Fairgrounds to host major national powerboat championship

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Colleges from across the country came to the Clark County Fairgrounds to compete in solar powered boat competitions.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Springfield will host a major powerboat race in August that will be broadcast worldwide, a big win for the efforts to make it a hub for powerboating.

The NGK Formula One Powerboat Championship will be held at the 125-acre lake at Clark County Fairgrounds from Aug. 25 to 27, according to Dana Potts with B2B Motorsports. The name of the race may change.

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The race was previously held in Detroit for decades, he said, and will be broadcast to an international audience of millions on CBS Sports. Between 20 and 25 boats will participate in the race.

“These are some of the fastest accelerating vehicles in the world,” Potts said. “Zero to 130 in less than three seconds. They can turn on a 90 degree turn without letting off the gas.”

Potts, a Clark County native, and Fairgrounds Director Dean Blair have spearheaded the efforts to bring power boat races to the lake on the property.

“This is very unique,” Potts said. “It’s enclosed, privately owned. And it gives us that setting that we can create an event here.”

Potts got his start in the motorsports industry when he worked with Bill Chatfield, who built Formula One powerboats in Springfield for decades, he said.

READ MORE: Clark County Fairgrounds moves forward with boat racing plans

They used to test boats on the fairgrounds lake, he said, so it holds a special place in his heart.

The fairgrounds offers a unique opportunity for motor-sport races, Blair said, because it’s on private property. That means organizers can charge admission. Most power boat races are held on public waters.

“It can generate revenues so that the event can return and do well,” he said.

The fairgrounds is also prepared for large crowds, Potts said. Space for camping will be available for visitors, as well as a concert at night after the races.

“They have the facilities to manage the logistics and everything,” he said. “Anything from trash to handling campers to tickets.”

Ticketing information for the event will be available soon, Blair said.

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“This could truly be the new home of formula racing,” he said. “We could see this kind of venue in Springfield, Ohio, for many years to come.”

The race could bring new businesses and tourists to the community, he said, but only if it’s successful.

“It’s up to us. Are we going to support it? Are the residents going to come out? … If we don’t really come out and support it, it’ll be a one time shot,” Blair said.

Springfield could potentially draw more motorsports races and businesses, Potts said, who want to be able to test their vehicles on the lake.

Most powerboat manufacturers are within a 300-mile radius of Clark County, Potts said.

“This will be the only facility in the country where you can come in and test on a consistent basis,” he said.

The fairgrounds is also hosting Solar Splash this weekend, a series of college solar boat races. The event is free and open to the public.

The fairgrounds will also begin to host cross country events around the lake soon, Blair said.

A demonstration last November of powerboats showed that the Clark County Fairgrounds lake could safely host races.

By the numbers

300: Mile-radius from Clark County where most powerboats are manufactured

20 to 25: Boats that will participate in the race in Springfield

125: Acre lake at the Clark County Fairgrounds

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The Springfield News-Sun digs into important stories about jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent coverage of new businesses at both the Champion City Business Park and Prime Ohio II Industrial Park.

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