Powerboat races draw over 7k fans over weekend to Clark County Fairgrounds

Social distancing measures were emphasized

Sunday’s final day of competition at the Wake the Lake 4 F1 powerboat races at the Clark County Fairgrounds kept the fans cheering and the competitors going at top speeds around Champions Park Lake.

Fairgrounds executive director Dean Blair said he wasn’t expecting a record crowd, but given the circumstances since the coronavirus pandemic canceled or downsized so many other events, was happy with the 7,000-8,000 attending. Last year’s event drew around 10,000.

Friday was a free day for attendees as the competitors prepared and Saturday and Sunday were for races and admission charged.

Blair emphasized the safety factor, making announcements about social distancing requirements and encouraged attendees to wear masks, setting up areas people could view while social distancing.

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“The weather was glorious, we couldn’t have had three prettier days,” said Blair. “It’s met all our expectations.”

Blair was especially proud that this was the only APBA race destination so far this year. He said due to this being a private lake rather than a public one where other such races occur and had all the requirements needed.

It meant other adjustments. Wake the Lake is fan-friendly with fan admittance to the pits where the competitors prepare, but would not be this year. But for many it was just a welcome chance to get outdoors and enjoy an event.

Blair estimated that most of the attendees came primarily from Ohio. He was also glad so many sponsors stuck with the event.

Credit: Brett Turner/Contributor

Credit: Brett Turner/Contributor

“We appreciate the support and the fans understand it’s a differentiation for Springfield,” he said.

For fans like Mallory Cordell and Cara Schilke, the races are a staycation. Cordell took a chance attending a couple years ago, loved it and soon bought a camper to spend the weekend there with family and friends.

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“Racing, it’s fun, it’s competitive and the kids love it,” said Cordell, whose children range in age from 2-11.

They enjoyed the chance to interact with the boat racers and even got to sit in one of the winning crafts last year. But they understand the rules in 2020 with social distancing limiting such things.

Schilke admitted she didn’t think she’d like powerboat racing, but found herself hooked.

“Now I think, why wouldn’t you want to come out to it,” she said.