Crime - Sacto 911

Folsom Lake hydroplane racing promoter arrested

The promoter of last summer’s hydroplane racing on Folsom Lake called “Big Wake Weekend” was arrested for defrauding the event vendors.

Robert Richards Jr., 54, was arrested by Placer County Sheriff’s detectives on Tuesday after a search warrant was served at his Folsom home. He was booked on suspicion of defrauding by false pretenses and for passing bad checks.

The sheriff’s office investigation began when vendors at the three-day event of speedboat racing, picnics, live music and beer gardens reported they were not getting paid. One man owed $200,000 was paid by a check that bounced, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

An ensuing investigation turned up more vendors allegedly defrauded by Richards. He has since been released from jail after posting bail.

Richards has many years of experience promoting NASCAR, IndyCar and other motorsports, according to a Bee story prior to the hydroplane event. After seeing a hydroplane demonstration on Folsom Lake several years ago, he decided to bring the races to the lake.

The event was held at Granite Bay and featured bleachers, a media tower, food and other vendors and a stage.