FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- With drag racing boats reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph, Thunder on Tholocco is sure to excite even the tamest of hearts.

The multi-class boat race returns to Lake Tholocco's West Beach April 14 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with entertainment for young and old, according to Melissa Kelley, Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation lead recreation assistant.

"The race always showcase's competition between speedboats of various classes and includes speedboat racers from Florida to Louisiana," she said. "The races are always closely regulated to ensure the drivers are complying with all official race rules.

"Not only is this event a once-a-year event for Fort Rucker, but it is also an opportunity to see the speed boats and meet the drivers up close as they prepare for their speed trials leading up to the actual races later in the afternoon," she added.

According to Kelley, Thunder on Tholocco always draws outside vendors to sell interesting foods to sample, like deep-fried alligator meat and other local delicacies.

"It's also a great opportunity for newcomers to come and experience all the West Beach recreational area has to offer, to include our famed fishing dock, shaded picnic areas, playgrounds and the swimming area (which will officially open on Memorial Day weekend)," she said. "Be sure to stop by the Tiki Bar to enjoy the Best Snow Cones money can buy!"

Kelley said the excitement of the event consistently draws crowds to the annual event.

"Speed boat races have a loyal following, but not very many people actually get to see them, especially military families, so it's an opportunity to witness this exciting sport up close," she said. "The recreation area offers ample parking and restroom support, and is only a five-minute drive from post housing areas. Scheduling the races in mid-April also ensures moderate seasonal temperatures although sunscreen is recommended for prolonged exposure."

Lake Tholocco is a 620-acre manmade lake that was originally created in the 1930s during the Great Depression by the regional Civilian Conservation Corps under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was created as a recreational resource for the entire Wiregrass region, according to Kelley.

"Lake Tholocco also sponsors two, two-man buddy bass tournaments during the spring and fall, and offers diverse fishing opportunities for largemouth bass, crappie, bream and catfish," she said.

A day spent lakeside can be refreshing, but Kelley said a few precautions can help ensure safety remains a top priority during events.

"No swimming will be authorized during this event. Small children should be closely monitored by parents or guardians at all times, especially if they visit the lake shoreline," she said. "Sunscreen is recommended as the event is generally scheduled to last for several hours. Also, hot barbeque grills present a burn risk for small and curious (unsupervised) children."

"Remember to stay hydrated and find a shady spot to avoid direct sun exposure if you can," she added. "Sunscreen should always be applied for any day at the beach."

Patrons interested in future Lake Tholocco events should mark a Day at the Lake on their calendars, according to Kelley. The event is scheduled for May 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"[It is the] unofficial opening day of the lake for swimming," she said. "Swimming will be free that day for everyone. Customers will be able to try out our canoes and kayaks for free as well. The Center Library will have an outside game activity planned for children and the Tiki Bar will offer hot dogs, brats, and soda and bottled water. We will also have live entertainment at this event."

For more information, call 255-4305.