Things are heating up at Wolf Creek this weekend as drivers with the Southern Drag Boat Association kicks off the summer tour with the Wolf Creek National Drag Boat Races this weekend in Grove.
The event, kicks off on Friday, July 7, continues through Sunday, July 9. Most of the activities take place at the boat docks at Wolf Creek Park, on 16th Street, in Grove.
However Friday's "Show and Shine" event - which includes live music and food trucks - takes place beginning at 6 p.m., at Grove Community Center, 104 West Third, Grove.
SDBA board member Rae Fawks said the entire weekend is geared for all ages.
"Our racers bring their children with them," Fawks said. "We have young teenagers racing. It's not like car races where you have to pay an extra price to get into the pits, our pits are always open.
"[Children] can go visit with the racers and walk around and touch the boats. They love that stuff."
This weekend's event features both boat and jet ski racing.
"It's a cheap form of motorsports," Fawks said. "It's a lot of fun. When the boats are running they are down at the edge of the water and they can feel all the vibrations and hear the sounds and the excitement. So it's a lot of fun to watch."
Fawks hopes attendance at this year's event exceeds the first Wolf Creek Nationals, which took place last summer.
"I think this year we're doing a lot more advertising, we've done a lot of social events and boat shows and things like that so I think we've got the word out better," said Fawks.
The Wolf Creek National Drag Boat competition features 10 categories: Top Alcohol Flat Jet, Pro Modified, Pro Outlaw, Quick Eliminator, Pro Eliminator, Top Eliminator, Modified Eliminator, Stock Eliminator, River Racer and PWC.
It's the first of a three event circuit which includes races in Paris, Texas and Chouteau, Oklahoma.
"It's very exciting, it's a lot of fun and it's a great [experience] for the kids," said Fawks.
Fawks estimated 40 racers from Oklahoma and Arkansas will be among the field of competitors. Of the racers from Oklahoma, both Jimmy Booher and Joe McIntyre will compete with their boats "Fist Full of Dollars" and "Hydro Comando."
Other teams to watch include Marty Logan, the Real Bad Boys and Tim Ortiz.
"I want [attendees] to be able to come here and bring their family and have a great experience and see the racing and enjoy it and leave here and think 'I'm going to come back next year, I had a really good time'," said Fawks.
About the Event
• Friday's activities
Throughout the day on Friday, July 7, racing teams will have boats on display at a variety of businesses. By 5 p.m., the teams will move to the Grove Community Center, 104 West Third, for the Food Truck Friday, hosted by the Grove Convention and Tourism Bureau.
The teams, including the Texas-based team Empty Pockets, will be on hand at area businesses, signing autographs and answering fans questions.
Most will arrive at the locations at 9 a.m., Empty Pockets will arrive at it's spot, at First National Bank in Grove, at 10:30 a.m. Boats will be on display until approximately 5 p.m., when teams will move to the Grove Community Center for the "Show and Shine" which accompanies Food Truck Friday.
Other locations hosting teams throughout the day include: Cherokee Casino Grove, Honey Creek Outdoors, Turtle Stop, McDonalds, Grove Community Center, NAPA, Grand Rental and Hott Box Cafe.
Food Truck Friday
This weekend marks the inaugural Food Truck Friday, set for 6 to 9 p.m., on Friday, July 7, at the Grove Community Center, 104 West Third, Grove.
The event, which features an assortment of local and regional food trucks, will include racing teams from the Southern Drag Boat Association, as well as music by Grove-based bluegrass group The Message with David Bridges.
"This is something the entire community can come together for," explained Brent Malone, executive director of the Grove CTB. "We are creating a family atmosphere for residents, as well as something for the tourists who might be in town for the weekend.
"It's going to be a great weekend."
Food trucks scheduled to attend as of presstime include: The Meltdown, Blazin’ B, Breenie'Z Soft Pretzel Stand, Pot Lickers, Neugin Concessions and Nacho Buszziness.
• Show & Shine
The "Show & Shine" takes place from 6 to 9 p.m., and features live music, a chance to visit with racing teams and an assortment of food trucks. Admission is free. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets, and make an evening of it. Admission is free and open to the public.
• Weekend Races
Qualifying races begin at 8 a.m., on Saturday, July 8, with races going until 6 p.m. The races resume at 10 a.m. on Sunday, July 9, and will continue until 5 p.m.
Tickets for the races are $15 for a day pass or $25 for a weekend pass. Military and first responders are admitted free with an I.D. Children 12 and under are admitted free with an adult.
The event is sponsored by the Grove Convention and Tourism Bureau, with Cherokee Casino Grove, First National Bank, Honey Creek Outdoors, NAPA Auto Parts and the City of Grove.
Oklahoma racer aids sport, racers
With more than 30 years of experience, Tommy Thompson, the founder of Tommy Thompson Motorsports, is one of the racers to watch this weekend at the Southern Drag Boat Association's Wolf Creek National Drag Boat Races.
Thompson, who is based in Locust Grove, owns multiple boats and has drivers for each.
Thompson's crown jewel is a top fuel hydro named Liquid Voodoo, which is expected to exceed 250 mile per hour during this weekend's runs.
"[Thompson] has probably done more for the sport of drag boat racing than any other one person," said Southern Drag Boat Association board member Rae Fawks. "He shows his boat, he talks to everybody he encourages new racers, he sponsors numerous boats and owns numerous boats."
Fawks grandson raced personal watercraft for four years. Because of the cost of racing, he needed a sponsor.
"My grandson went up to Tommy and asked him if he would sponsor him and [Thompson] said sure and gave him some money to get us through the whole race season," said Fawks.
Thompson went on to sponsor Fawks' grandson his entire four-year career.
"Every year he'd give him money and say 'here, go race', he's that kind of guy," Fawks said. "He's done that for a lot of boats. He supports everybody as best as he can."
During the 2016 competition, volunteers from the city of Grove worked the ramps to raise money for Tyler Homler, the son of city employees who was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Thompson told the racers to pass the hat, saying he planned to match any money raised. Together the racers and Thompson brought in nearly $8,000 for Homler's parents Tosha and Byron Homler.
Tyler Homler will attend the races this weekend as Thompson's VIP guest.