Thousands of spectators showed up Saturday for first ever Wake the Lake boat races at the Clark County Fairgrounds.

National boat race to return to Clark County Fairgrounds

Powerboat racers from across the nation will gather at the Clark County Fairgrounds for Formula 1 races this weekend.

This marks the second Springfield F1 Grand Prix and Wake the Lake.

“Some of the best racers in the world” will participate, said Dana Potts, president of B2B Motorsports, who is promoting the event. Potts expects 20 boats to race this weekend.

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The event will air worldwide on CBS Sports on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at 8:30 p.m. and again at 11:30 p.m., Potts said.

Last year’s event attracted 5,000 attendees and 700 million television viewers, Clark County Fairgrounds executive director Dean Blair said. He hopes for similar numbers this year.

“This is a family-friendly, affordable weekend,” he said.

New at the fairgrounds this year are a jumbotron, a J-hydro class, a stock outboards, and wake boarders, along with seven food vendors. Three or four vendors from last year are returning, Blair said.

Gates open at 1 p.m. on Friday for testing and practice, which is free to the public. Gates open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with a full schedule of races throughout the day.

Tailgating, camping, and a concert are also part of the weekend. Admission for tailgating and camping is $100. Race tickets will be used as admission for the concert.

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The Naked Karate Girls, a cover band from Cincinnati, will headline the 6 p.m. Saturday concert.

Austin Cheatham, 25, of Hempstead, Texas, was at the Clark County Fairgrounds on Wednesday preparing to compete in this year’s event. This will be his second year racing in Springfield. He said the lake is more predictable than other courses he has raced on.

“You’re not going to have the big winds like you would on other courses and the water is not going to be as rough,” he said.

Austin’s cousin, Wesley Cheatham, 30, from Houston, is also returning.

“The people you meet doing this is probably the coolest thing about it,” Cheatham said. “I love coming here.”

General admission for the event is $20 daily. Kids 12 and under get in free. Tailgating and camping passes go for $100, which includes weekend admission.

Tickets are available at Springfield F1 Grand Prix website or at the front gates. They can also be purchased by calling the Clark County Fairgrounds at (937) 323-3090.

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