After a successful first year, the ‘Wake the Lake’ F1 Powerboat Championship is returning to the Clark County Fairgrounds this weekend.
Drivers from across the country, as far as Houston and California made the long journey to Springfield for the race they said they wouldn’t want to miss.
“We were in Seattle, Washington, last weekend racing and I really didn’t care about that race. I cared that I could get everything loaded up Sunday night because we had to be here for this event,” said Chris Fairchild, a champion racer from just outside of Chicago. “You can’t get a better venue than this lake.”
Fairchild drives a 250-horsepower F1, or Formula 1 boat which can run up to 120 miles per hour and takes 90 degree turns on a dime.
“If you’ve seen it on TV and you’re like, ‘whatever’ — come down and watch it, and I dare you to lean up on the fence when we come in the corner,” he said.
GALLERY: ‘Wake the Lake’ practice day
In addition to the F1, there will also be races with four other types of boats. The course features a challenging right turn that’s unique to the fairgrounds.
Executive Director at the fairgrounds, Dean Blair said last year, the event drew in nearly 5,000 spectators to not only the grounds, but the community.
“We see hotels that sell out here locally. We see things that are affected in such a positive way and then the trickle down for us — the partnerships,” he said.
Blair said the event is family friendly, and all ages are invited to come out to the event.
“Regardless of your age, you’re gonna feel like a kid watching those formula boats in the water,” he said.
He anticipates it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making a home for powerboat racing in Clark County and the benefits it brings to the grounds.
“Because of the boat race, we have a cross country course. Because of the boat race, we’re building a new dog barn. So many things are happening because of the boat race, and the dominoes that it connects,” he said.
Gates for the race will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Also new this year, ‘The Naked Karate Girls,’ a Midwestern band, will perform a concert at 6 p.m. on Saturday. General admission tickets to the race are $20, and kids 12 and under are free. Small coolers are allowed.