History will be made on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks in a few weeks when the NGK Spark Plugs Formula One Powerboat Championship Series brings world-class tunnel-boat-racing action to the popular waterway for the first time. Building off the momentum of this season’s first two events in Port Neches, Texas, the NGK F1 Series is going to run its third round as a companion event to the Offshore Powerboat Association-sanctioned Lake Race at Bagnell Dam on June 3-5.
The fun-to-watch outboard-powered tunnel boats are coming to Lake of the Ozarks as the NGK F1 Powerboat Championship Series is joining the OPA Lake Race in early June. Photo courtesy Kevin Pyles/MOTO Marketing Group
Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, Lake of the Ozarks also happens to be the hometown of NGK F1 Series director, Tim Seebold, who is very excited to bring the high-octane outboard racing to lake, fulfilling a dream he has envisioned for quite some time.
Longtime F1 racing fans will remember that the state of Missouri was once a stronghold for high-stakes tunnel-boat racing, as it hosted the St. Louis Grand Prix dating back nearly 50 years. Originally held at George Winter Park in Fenton from 1972 to 1999, the race moved to Creve Coeur Lake Park starting in 2000. The 37th and last St. Louis Grand Prix race was held in 2008.
“Since the inception of the NGK F1 Powerboat Championship in 2017 we have wanted to bring F1 powerboat racing back to Missouri,” Seebold said in a press release. “The outboard-racing tradition that began 49 years ago with the Concord Village Lions Club producing the first St. Louis Grand Prix at George Winter Park will once again thrill racing fans as the F1 boats light up the waters of my hometown. It is going to be a special event for powerboat racing fans to see the impressive high-horsepower offshore boats, the agile F1 boats along with the crowd-favorite Tri Hull division all on the water in the same day.
“Thanks to Tom Abbett of Lake Race and OPA’s Ed “Smitty” Smith for the shared infrastructure that has made this all possible,” he added. “We are fortunate and extend our appreciation to Shady Gators, Backwater Jacks, Dog Days, ProServ Business Systems and Ozark Touchless Covers for believing in our vision of bringing these powerboat disciplines together.”
Smith, the president of OPA, agreed that the announcement is great news for the racing community.
“We have learned through our partnership with Powerboat P1 how powerful these partnerships can be,” Smitty said in the release. “I have always wanted to watch the F1 boats race, but never had the opportunity to attend one of their events. Thanks to Tim Seebold for reaching out to us. This is going to be a big boost for us all.”
Abbett, president of the Lake Race Board of Directors, said the board is extremely excited with the addition of the NGK F1 Powerboat Series to the 2021 Lake Race event, which features the new Neon Taco as its primary host location.
“We have been discussing this for a few months, and once Tim Seebold and I met at the racecourse site by the dam, we knew we had to figure out a way to make it happen,” Abbett said in the release. “This addition of different classes will certainly add to the non-stop, on-course racing action and I cannot wait to see the dead start for the F1 boats from the docks; one of the coolest starts in all of racing. This addition will be a ‘must see’ for boating enthusiasts and race fans of all ages.”
According to the release, the public is invited to meet the racers at the Racer’s Reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Camden on the Lake Boardwalk. At noon on Friday, the race pits will begin set up followed by a Lake Race Street Party open to the public at Bagnell Dam Strip from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday’s race-day action, which includes Offshore, Formula 1 and Tri Hull, will start with testing at 9 a.m. and the full-throttle, deck-to-deck competition is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
All of the racing action from Saturday will be broadcast via livestream from the NGK F1 website and the NGK F1 Facebook page utilizing a revolutionary live timing system, which allows fans to watch the rapid-paced race positioning in real time while watching the livestream. Additional viewing can be found on the American Broadcast Affiliates airing the show on live national television, where an estimated 40+ million viewers will have the chance to watch the event on broadcast and cable television.
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