The Savannah River will be much quieter this weekend thanks to the sudden cancellation of the 31st annual Augusta Southern Nationals drag boat event.
The sanctioning body of the event, Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series, announced just last Friday that it was immediately canceling half of the remaining races for 2017, which included the Augusta race, due to “reoccurring financial losses” during the race series.
“To ensure the continuing viability of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat series, the decision has been made to shorten the 2017 Race schedule by three events,” said Mike Chastain, race director of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series. “We apologize for the late notice but the economies obtained by the cuts will help us move forward to construct a more robust race series in 2018.”
Augusta wasn’t the only city impacted.
The Lucas Oil Fall Shootout in San Angelo, Texas, scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 1, was also canceled, along with the Lucas Oil Thunder on the River in Parker, Ariz., on Oct. 13-15.
But at least those events were given a little bit of notice.
Augusta was only given one week.
One week to clean up Lucas Oil’s mess.
Still on the schedule for 2017 is the Marble Falls Lakefest in Marble Falls, Texas, from Aug. 11-13, the 7th Annual Diamond of the Drag Boats Nationals in Wheatland, Mo., from Sept. 1-3, and the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Finals in Phoenix, Ariz., from Nov. 3-5.
But who really knows what next year will bring?
The cancellation of the Augusta Southern Nationals drag boat race was heartbreaking news for those who’ve worked hard all year long preparing for the event.
In last week’s press release, Race Chairman Dayton Sherrouse stated that it was extremely devastating news for everyone concerned with this annual event, particularly with the short notice involved.
“Without the sanctioning body and the tasks they perform for the race such as course setup, timing system, rescue boats, driver registration, technical inspection, safety personnel, insurance and scheduling of general race activities, the race cannot be held,” last week’s press release stated. “As far as the future of the race in Augusta the Augusta Southern Nationals will continue to monitor the situation with Lucas and any other sanctioning bodies.”
Fans of the Augusta Southern Nationals were completely disappointed because those who enjoy drag boat racing love it with a passion.
It gets in their blood.
For those unfamiliar with Augusta Southern Nationals drag boat racing, it is an acceleration race over a measured quarter mile straightaway on water between two high performance race boats.
As two boats are “paired up” on the holding rope, a countdown clock begins before the boats get the green light. During competition, if either boat crosses the starting line before the green light is illuminated, it is disqualified, according to the Augusta Southern Nationals’ website.
Each boat is allowed to qualify for eliminations by making at least one quarter-mile timed run. Each of the boats is clocked for an elapsed time that is determined from the time it takes the boat to cover the quarter-mile race from start to finish.
Only the top qualifying boats compete in the championship elimination rounds. The winner of each round of racing advances to the next round until only one boat remains as the class winner.
Some people wait all year just for the Southern Nationals races to come rolling around. The races were almost here. They were just one week away.
Fans could almost smell the fuel in the air and feel the ground shake underneath them, but then this year’s event was canceled.
Now, Augustans will have to wait another year to see if the drag boats will return to the Savannah River.
For some, that’s a very long wait.
And now organizers are left having to return the money to patrons who have already purchased their tickets.
Residents who purchased their tickets from an outlet or an individual are asked to seek a refund from the point of purchase.
For those who purchased tickets at a Greg’s Gas Plus location, they will need to bring the ticket or badge to Penny Barlow at 1295 West Martintown Rd. in North Augusta. Her number is 803-819-9242.
All tickets purchased online at tickets.augustasouthernnationals.org will be refunded.
What a mess.
Let’s just hope next summer will be a much better year for the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series and drag boat racing can once again return to Augusta.