‘Fan-favorite’ racer dies after three-boat incident at Wake the Lake

A boat racing competitor at Wake the Lake 4 at the Clark County Fairgrounds died as the result of an incident Sunday during the final race.

Tracy Hawkins, a 60-year-old racer from Willis, Texas, was flown by CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital but died after he was involved in a three-boat incident at Champions Park Lake, Clark County Fairgrounds Executive Director Dean Blair said.

Clark County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Christina Evans-Fisher said the incident occurred around 4:52 p.m., according to dispatch records. She explained that two boats collided first and then one of the two boats collided with a third boat.

“It (the incident) was at the beginning of the race and they had just taken off (from the starting point),” Evans-Fisher said.

Hawkins’ F1 tunnel boat, which was believed to be one of the two boats that collided before hitting the third boat, was bright yellow and blue, Dana Potts, president of B2B Motorsports, which helped promote the race said.

According to a statement on the American Power Boat Association (APBA) Facebook page, “The other competitors involved in the incident, Fred Durr and Dylan Anderson, are doing well and have only sustained minor bruises.”

No spectators at Wake the Lake 4 were injured as a result of the incident, Evans-Fisher said.

“Our thoughts are with Tracy’s entire family, his friends, and all of APBA as we mourn this loss together,” the statement added.

Hawkins had been to previous Wake the Lakes, Blair said. Last year, he appeared in the driver’s parade and had gained several fans and friends from Clark County, Blair said.

Potts said that Hawkins was disappointed there was not going to be a driver’s parade because he enjoyed spending time with his fans. The driver’s parade was canceled this year to eliminate possible exposure to COVID-19 between local residents and out-of-town racers.

“In my opinion, he was one of the greatest ambassadors for powerboat racing,” Potts added.

“Tracy is not a spring chicken to this sport,” Blair said. “He’s a legend in this sport.”

Hawkins started racing boats as a teenager, Potts said. He built boats for many years and was known for helping his fellow powerboat competitors.

“Everybody loved the guy. He was just a good racer - won multiple championships and had been doing it forever,” Potts said.

This was the first fatal accident that has happened during Wake the Lake, Blair said. In previous years, some competitors suffered minor injuries.

“It’s a dangerous sport, we know it,” Potts said. “Racing period is dangerous.”

The Clark County Fairgrounds was able to host the only F1 tunnel boat race this year by working closely with the Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) to ensure that the event was in compliance with the health district’s guidelines.

To emphasize the guidelines, Blair made announcements about social distancing, encouraged attendees to wear masks, added space to tailgating areas and confined racers and workers to their own camping areas.

Prior to the incident on Sunday, Blair told the News-Sun, “The weather was glorious, we couldn’t have had three prettier days. It’s met all our expectations.”

Between 7,000 to 8,000 people attended the powerboat races. Most spectators were from Ohio, Blair added.

According to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, this incident remains under investigation as they continue to review additional video footage.

The News-Sun has requested a report from the Clark County Coroner’s Office, and is awaiting a response.

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