For the 17th year, drag boat racers from across the country will heat up the Savannah River in the Augusta Southern Nationals.
"It's the first race of the year with a full field," executive chairman Jeff Banks said. "This is the place to show your stuff."
Banks has been involved with the competition for 16 years and has served as executive chairman for 12 years. He said he is looking forward to this weekend's race, which runs Friday through Sunday and will feature more than 120 boats.
"The sport has evolved so much over the years in regards to safety, and the event has grown so much that it has brought some of the best racers to Augusta," Banks said.
The Southern Nationals, which will start at Riverfront Marina, will be the first race since International Hot Boat Association purchased assets, trade name and logo of the American Drag Boat Association.
According to terms of the agreement, ADBA will no longer sanction or conduct drag boat races, it will remain active in racing on the East Coast, and the IHBA will sanction former ADBA races - including Augusta - and High Point, N.C.
This week's festivities begin tonight with the Night of Fire in the National Hills Shopping Center. Competitors will set up between 4 and 5 p.m., and the activities will run from 6 to 9 tonight.
California's Greg Tedesco, who will pilot Loose Cannon; Joe Reinhart, of North Carolina, in Whad-A-Hoot; and Missouri's Kebin Kinsley, in Speed Sport Special, will be some of the featured competitors.
With temperatures expected to top 100 degrees, Banks is encouraging all spectators planning to attend to wear light clothes and drink plenty of water. Medical attendants will be on site.
Advance series tickets are $18, and $25 at the gate. Admission to Friday's events will be free. Saturday and Sunday individual tickets are $15 per day. No food, drinks or coolers are permitted.
Tickets are on sale now at all Pump 'N' Shop and Georgia Bank & Trust locations, the American Speed Center at Lumpkin Road. They may be purchased at the race site on Friday only or ordered by phone at (803) 278-4TIX.
Today - Night of Fire, National Hills Shopping Center, 4-9 p.m.
Friday - Gates Open, 8 a.m.
Driver licensing 9 a.m.
IHBA Registration/Tech on site 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Test & Tune 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Secure Area 6 p.m.
Saturday - Gates Open, 8 a.m.
IHBA Registration/Tech on site 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Qualifying round (First round) 10 a.m.
Pro ET (Slowest to fastest)
Pro Classes Follow (Bottom to top)
Top Fuel Hydro, Top Alcohol Hydro
Second round-repeat sequence
Secure Area 6 p.m.
Sunday - Gates Open, 8 a.m.
Non-Denominational Chapel Services by Racers for Christ 9 a.m.
All ET Classes (Bottom to top) 10 a.m.
All Pro Classes follow (Top to bottom)
Top Fuel Hydro and Top Alcohol Hydro 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m.
Reach Miguelangelo Hernandez at (706) 823-3304.
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