Augusta Southern Nationals returns to Savannah River

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Before Paul Adams was an announcer for the Augusta Southern Nationals, he was a spectator and fan.

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Daryl Ehrlich speeds off the line kicking up a wall of water as officials look on during the 26th annual Augusta Southern Nationals drag boat racing event. Ehrlich captured the top fuel hydo division with a blistering 3.812 quarter mile time at 234.30 miles per hour.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
Daryl Ehrlich speeds off the line kicking up a wall of water as officials look on during the 26th annual Augusta Southern Nationals drag boat racing event. Ehrlich captured the top fuel hydo division with a blistering 3.812 quarter mile time at 234.30 miles per hour.

“This is a great family event for people of all ages. It’s exciting for the whole family including the kids,” said Adams, about the event which will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 19-20, on the Savannah River.

Races begin at 9 a.m. and run to about 6 p.m. There are a variety of high-powered boats in the race and plenty of good vantage points to see the course. Some patrons also take the opportunity to get close to the pit and watch the boat pit crews prepare the boats for the races.

Single-day passes are $18 at the gate for ages 10 and older. Children younger than 10 enter free. Passes for the entire series, which includes the Test and Tune event during the day Friday, are $30 at the gate. Advance series tickets are available through Thursday and are $22 each.

Being on the river all day can get hot and uncomfortable. Patron passes are available for $60 in advance and $70 at the gate and include access to the air-conditioned Riverfront Pavilion with indoor concessions and souvenir tables. Advance tickets are available at locations of Georgia Bank and Trust, Greg’s Gas Plus, Windsor Jewelers, Tix Online and Boots, Bridles and Britches.

Adams said there are other vendors that will be present at the race.

For those who want to see the boats up-close, but are not interested in the races, there’s a Night of Fire at 7 p.m. Friday.

“There will be a bunch of boats. People can look at the boats; sometimes the drivers will let children sit in the boats. The drivers love to show off their stuff,” said Adams.

Not only will be boats be on display, but the drivers will fire up the boats.

“It’s an awesome sound. The noise is a thrill for those of us who follow drag racing,” he said.

This is the 28th year for the Augusta Southern Nationals. Last year’s event was cancelled because of safety concerns with rising floodwaters along the Savannah River. It was the first time in the event’s history that weather had caused a cancellation.

“We’ve had storms come through and had to wait for them to pass. One year, a tree fell on the timing trailer, but last year’s was something rare. The river was too high and too fast,” he said.

While it’s a sporting event that will bring in a lot of the top drivers in the nation, the Augusta Southern Nationals has a higher purpose. It’s a fundraiser for the Georgia Area 9 Special Olympics.

For more, visit the Augusta Southern Nationals’ Web site at augustasouthernnationals.org.


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