Clark County Fairgrounds hosting weeklong national power boat event

Races begin Tuesday with competitors from more than 20 states.

Clark County Fairgrounds is hosting a national junior boat racing event starting today.

The 2021 Stock, Modified and Junior National Championships is sponsored by the Marine Racing Club under the American Power Boat Association. The APBA is the largest sanctioning body for powerboat racing in the U.S.

The racers are scheduled to practice today with competition beginningTuesday and running through Sunday.

“I’m excited to have this event because we will once again get to be out in our community and get to visit with our families and friends,” Chris Fairchild, president of the American Power Boat Association, said. “We fought tooth and nail to make sure the event happened during COVID last year. Now, the drivers and crews can once again mingle with the spectators.”

ExplorePHOTOS: Boat Racing at the Clark County Fairgrounds

The race is expected to attract competitors from 23 states with over 500 boats, Executive Director of Clark County Fairgrounds Dean Blair said.

“We have a lady driving here from California, bringing her 11-year-old to participate in the juniors race,” Blair said. “They will be driving here to Springfield for the first time.”

This event will be great for Springfield economically as well, Blair said.

“They’ve got about 100 people camping, but the rest are all staying at hotels in the area,” Blair said. “They also have an actual contract with the Springfield City Fire Department. They have to have EMS services here the entirety of their race or they have to shut their race down.”

Previous power boat races at the fairgrounds have attracted between 5,000 and 10,000 people, according to Fairchild.

The power boats are about 13 feet long and some can reach speeds up to 80 mph, Fairchild said.

The event runs through Sunday at Champions Park Lake, 4401 South Charleston Pike, Springfield, and is free to the public.

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After a fatal boat-racing accident at Wake the Lake 4 in 2020, officials are taking extra precautions.

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Tracy Hawkins, a 60-year-old racer from Willis, Texas died during the final race of Wake the Lake in 2020.

“Of course we are always taking extra precautions. We looked at that accident and reviewed it every which way we could. We’ve raised the minimum that the drivers have to do for their own safety,” Fairchild said. “We were able to do a thorough investigation and find out that it wasn’t so much the venue that failed us there but more so the safety aspects of the drivers.”

Clark County Fairgrounds also plans to host, Wake the Lake 5, which will feature professional-style racing with boats going 110-120 mph. Wake the Lake 5 will take place at Champions Lake Aug. 6-8.

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