WHEATLAND, Mo. -- Thousands of people will invade Hickory County to see boats fly by at 260 miles per hour. The Lucas Oil Speedway has been building a boat drag strip for almost a year; this weekend they are breaking it in.
Signs are up in town advertising parking, camping, and food. Tents are popping up at Lucas Oil Speedway as campers roll in and the madness begins. Work began last October on a dream.
"It's just under 4,000 feet long, 400 feet wide, about seven-and-a-half feet deep," said Dan Robinson of Lucas Oil Speedway, "We figure roughly 80 to 90 million gallons of water."
Nine months later, the party begins.
"We're expecting upwards to 10,000 people each day," said Robinson.
For a town no bigger than a few hundred, the new drag boat racing strip will bring more people to the area this weekend than ever before.
"I even noticed for the first time," Robinson said, "there is a campground across the street that people are setting up. Even the neighbors are expecting big crowds."
The Inaugural Diamond Drag Boat Nationals will be a nationally televised event.
"All the hotels are full from here to Warsaw, Clinton, Bolivar," said Robinson.
It's bringing people from all over the country with boats big and small. The new drag strip is manmade and the first of its kind.
"We had the opportunity to sit down and do some thinking here," said Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series Director Ken Dollar, "and address the issues we run into at other places and build this the way it needs to be."
The action it brings to Wheatland is both on the water and in the wallets of residents.
"Everything trickles down to help the economy and it's really a big deal for this area," said Robinson.
It is creating a pretty exciting atmosphere not seen often.
"Oh man, I'm ready. I've been waiting for this for a year and a half. I can't hardly stand it," Dollar said.
Lucas Oil Speedway wants to keep expanding. Because it had to get ready for this weekend, there are still some things they want to finish up. They hope to build a restaurant and a bar in the area; they also are planning an off-road dirt track and a drag strip on land.
Edited news release:
The Inaugural Diamond Drag Boat Nationals will begin with The Lucas Drag Boat Racing Series Test and Tune on Friday (July 29). The grandstand gates will open at 8 a.m. with the test and tune set to begin at 10 a.m.
A general admission ticket on Friday is only $10 for adults, age 5 and under are always free at Lucas Oil Speedway. The general admission ticket does grant access to the pit area, so fans can get an up close view of the off track boat preparation.
Friday night following the Lucas Drag Boat Racing Series Test and Tune, the Diamond Bar will remain open as the band Rideshy will begin playing at 8 p.m. with drink specials all evening.
On Saturday, the gates will open at 7 a.m. with qualifying slated to begin at 9. Saturday, tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors age 62 and up as well as active Military with ID. Youth ages 6-15 years are just $10 with kids 5 and under FREE.
Admission to Saturday's Drag Boat event will also admit the ticket holder to the Diamond of Dirt Tracks for The Lucas Oil MLRA event on Saturday night. The late model touring series will hit the dirt track at 7:00pm.
Saturday night's race is presented by Buffalo Prairie Dental. On Sunday, July 31, Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 10:45 a.m. with the first Pro Elimination set for 11 a.m. Spectator gates are set to open at 7 a.m.
Pricing for Sunday is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, $10 for youth (age 6-15), and kids age 5 and under are FREE! to date information about the Inaugural Diamond Drag Boat Nationals.
A couple of great money saving options are available as well. One option is a 3-Day pass for adults, it is just $50, a $10 savings. A 3-Day pass for seniors age 62 and up as well as active Military is only $40.
Youth age 6 to 15 can get a 3-Day pass for only $20. A family pass is available for the event as well. Family passes may only be purchased at the gate and are not available online. A family pass includes adult admission for two adults age 16 and up and 3 youth admissions for youth age 6-15 years.
The price for a one day family pass is $50 and a 3-Day family pass is $100.
The Lucas Oil Speedway is on Missouri 83/U.S. 54 in Wheatland. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With its entrance just outside the pit gate, this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.