Augusta, GA – It’s the second day of the 29th Annual Augusta Southern Nationals and more than 25 thousand people are expected to attend the event this weekend. Many people call it the “World’s Richest Drag Race” because of the payout they give the winners, which used to be around $50,000 when it first started, but has now increased to $150,000.
Spectators from across the country come to the Augusta Southern Nationals to see some of the world’s fastest boats, but for the City of Augusta this weekend will bring great economic gains.
“It’s an important thing for the community. It generates great spending this weekend in Augusta of over a million dollars. So it’s a positive thing in terms of economic impact for the local community,” said Dayton Sherrouse, Chairman of Augusta Southern Nationals.
More than 400 volunteers work to put on these drag races. The event is completely nonprofit and it raises money through ticket sales, raffles, and silent auctions. The proceeds are donated to the Area 9 Chapter of the Georgia Special Olympics.
“And then they use that money to bring in statewide events that they do, so it brings economic impact back in the community from the money we give them,” Sherrouse said.
Sherrouse says it takes a budget of $300,000 to put on the races, but this unique event brings tremendous exposure to Augusta.
“And plus we get a lot of people that come in from out of town, about 35 percent of our spectators are from out of town visitors that come here and stay in hotels and eat in restaurants, and buy groceries, and all that kind of thing. So that really helps the local economy,” said Sherrouse.
But the most important thing to Sherrouse about this weekend is to let people across the nation know there are some cool things going on in Augusta that are not happening anywhere else.
“I say it’s like going to a restaurant and you look at the various menu of things to do. Not everybody. They may not like the symphony for instance, but they may like drag boat racing. So this just another thing on the menu of the local folks for them to come out and enjoy,” Sherrouse told News Channel 6.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau has estimated more than a million dollars in revenue this weekend based on the number of hotel rooms booked by out of town visitors.
The Augusta Southern Nationals Finals is tomorrow and Dayton Sherrouse says he expects the biggest crowd of the weekend. You can still get tickets at the gate for tomorrow’s drag races and they begin at 9 a.m.