The US F1 Powerboat Tour opened its 2014 season exactly where it left off last year with veteran racers Terry Rinker and Tim Seebold battling for the top spot on the podium. In a dramatic finish on Sunday, Rinker, behind the wheel of his AMSOIL/Rinker Racing Leecraft hull, bested his longtime rival Seebold, who was driving the NGK Spark Plug/Seebold Sports boat and threw a propeller toward the end of the second annual Maple City Grand Prix on Stone Lake in LaPorte, Ind.
Terry Rinker (10) and Tim Seebold (16) battled from the start to the finish at the second annual Maple City Grand Prix in LaPorte, Ind. Rinker won the US F1 Powerboat Tour season opener. Photo by Paul Kemiel/PaulKemielPhotographics.com
Despite a chipped propeller on his boat, Rinker, an Indiana native and current resident of Tampa, Fla., was able to keep himself in the race, which included an impressive 17-boat field, and take advantage of Seebold’s misfortune on the final lap to earn his 24th career F1 victory.
“We had a great start off the dock and led early on,” Rinker said in the tour’s press release. “We were feeling very confident until I felt a vibration and knew we were having propeller problems forcing me to slow down. We kept going and my crew chief said to keep pushing and we did and when the door opened for our opportunity to take the lead, we took it. We are very excited about our comeback, it couldn’t have been a better result.”
For Seebold, who thought he had the victory in the bag until more drastic propeller issues—losing a blade—slowed him down dramatically, the end was a disappointment even though he still finished second.
“We had done everything we needed to do and I was feeling pretty confident that we could win, then the vibration came out of nowhere and I knew we were in trouble,” Seebold said in the release. “This racing is so tough, we are really disappointed since I could almost smell the finish line and victory, and then the world suddenly turned upside down.”
Reaching the podium for the sixth time in eight races was Illinois driver Chris Fairchild, who had won a heat race on Saturday and started third off the dock finishing almost half a lap behind Rinker. Taking fourth was Tennessee driver Jeff Shepherd, who climbed his way up the ladder after a slow start with engine problems earlier in the weekend, to take his best finish in more than a year on the tour.
Series president and racer Jose Mendana Jr. of Miami had a steady race finishing fifth for the second straight year in LaPorte, while his younger brother, Carlos, dropped out late in the event after finishing on the podium in third place last year.
The second round of the US F1 Powerboat Tour is scheduled for the June 27-29 in Bay City, Mich., and the longest-running event on the series calendar is always exciting as the Saginaw River is always a technical challenge for the drivers.
Official results from the US F1 Maple City Grand Prix – 1. Terry Rinker, 2. Tim Seebold, 3. Chris Fairchild, 4. Jeff Shepherd, 5. Jose Mendana Jr., 6. Mark Major, 7. Mark Welch, 8. Wade Tuchscherer, 9. Jimmie Merlaeu, 10. Del Book, 11. Ruben Ascencio, 12. Tammy Wolf, 13. Mike McLellan, 14. Tom Wright, 15. Mike Beegle, 16. Carlos Mendana, 17. Jim Robb Sr., 18. Tyler Welch (DNS, accident).