Boating teams from across North America will race for the first time this weekend at the Clark County Fairgrounds - since the coronavirus halted professional sporting events, Dana Potts, president of B2B Motorsports said.
Wake the Lake 4, a F1 powerboat race, will begin racing today and continue on Sunday with gates opening at 8 a.m.
“This will be the only F1 tunnel boat race this year due to all the COVID-19 issues and things of that nature,” Potts added.
Clark County Fairgrounds Executive Director Dean Blair said that he has worked closely with the Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) to ensure that the event will be in compliance with the health district’s guidelines.
“These players will have to do the mandatory things like facial coverings and daily symptom checks, just as anyone else,” CCCHD Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said. “Spectators are expected to stay six feet apart and there will be no congregation before or after the sport occurs.”
Patterson explained that Wake the Lake was able to take place because in Gov. Mike DeWine’s Responsible RestartOhio plans and information, non-contact sports and non-contact sport competitions are listed as events that can continue. Wake the Lake will follow those guidelines, Patterson said.
He added that several residents have reached out to the CCCHD to ask why the event is allowed to occur.
“I’m happy they are concerned because it means they are thinking about the community and their families and thinking about the regulations,” Patterson said.
The event will adhere to health regulations, Blair said.
“Anytime we can have an event that is within compliance, within the scope of what we’re able to do, certainly we like to have the event.”
This year there will be a closed pit, Blair said. Residents will not be allowed to walk up to the boat racers, talk to them or watch them work on their motors.
He added that tailgate spots will include a six foot “deadzone” between other tailgate spots to eliminate resident contact. Each spot will allow 10 people maximum.
Other changes include the cancellation of the driver parade, alcohol not being sold on the premise, and the confinement of racers and workers to their own camping area - not allowing them to visit food trucks or interact with spectators at the other end of Champions Park Lake.
“This is something that we’re doing to take extra steps to segregate the out-of-town folks that would come in with boat racing from our Clark County residents just to make sure everybody is a little safer,” Blair said.
He added that this event has had a positive effect on the economies and images of Springfield and Clark County as a whole - throughout the last three years.
“We believe by growing the lake and having the boat race here that it has definitely…created a situation where Springfield and Clark County is known for that sort of thing now and it has caused other events to come here,” Blair said.
“I support it,” Patterson said. “I support it because I love the attention this event brings to Springfield and Clark County.”
Patterson said that every year he buys one or two tailgating spots because he wants this event to be successful. He said he bought two spots this year to support the event, but they will be vacant because he won’t be attending.
Spectators will be required to wear face coverings for gate admittance and are expected to keep it on when unable to maintain a distance of six feet or more outside.
Admission is $15 for adults today and Sunday. Children 12 and under are free.
“I’m excited to see some really fast boats that turn sharper than any other race vehicle in the world,” Potts said. “They’re going to be racing hard.”
“We want this to be a premier boat racing event in the future,” Patterson said. “We understand that racers want to get out and get their boats wet and we have an opportunity for them to do that here safely.”
For more information about the event, visit www.wakethelakeohio.com.