On Sunday, Florida driver Terry Rinker went wire to wire to win the 35-lap Grand Prix final on the second stop of the US F1 Powerboat Tour. Rinker, who held off a hard-charging Chris Fairchild in front of tens of thousands of fans at the 27th annual Bay City River Roar presented by Maier & Associates, earned his second straight win to start this season and his fifth career victory in Bay City.
Terry Rinker won his second straight race to start the season in Bay City, Mich. Photo by Paul Kemiel/PaulKemielPhotographics.com
The win on the always-rough Saginaw River tied the AMSOIL/Rinker Racing driver with Mike Seebold for most wins at the longest-running race site on the tour. The race, which was highlighted by bright sunshine and strong southwest winds, saw Rinker hit the hole shot on a perfect start holding off first, Tim Seebold (Mike’s younger brother) in his NGK Spark Plugs/Seebold Sports boats, and then a very aggressive Fairchild in his Kroger-sponsored machine, whom quickly passed Seebold on the first lap and spent the rest of the race chasing the seven-time national champion.
As the race settled in, it became apparent that the 17 starters on the four-pin 1-mile circuit would pose a large challenge in passing as Rinker did his best to shake Fairchild in the worst way but the driver from Paw Paw, Ill., wouldn’t give up, all the way to a thrilling finish.
“Both Chris and Tim were really a challenge for me all day,” Rinker said in a US F1 Powerboat Tour release. “This race circuit brings out the best in drivers and the aggressiveness of some is noted as you have to fly on top of the water as these rough conditions play into your strategy right from the start.”
For Fairchild, he did everything he could to get Rinker out of his rhythm, coming close about halfway in the event only to get caught up in traffic losing his momentum in trying to take down the three-time defending series champion.
“We were pushing as hard as we could,” Fairchild stated. “Terry loves the inside and I enjoy racing on the outside grove so we played cat-and-mouse for most of the day but traffic kept interrupting my momentum, but that’s the way the game is played. We feel we proved a point and now we’ll take our second place and be ready for Valleyfield in a few weeks and hopefully win the next match-up in Canada.”
Four-time Bay City-winning driver Tim Seebold had to work extra hard after being docked a lap for destroying the turn one buoy early in the race. The veteran driver didn’t give up, keeping a fast pace and eventually finishing on the podium in third at the end of the day.
“We thought we had the right setup, got beat at the start and eventually I had to work extra hard to get back up toward Terry only to take the buoy out in rough water on the south end of the circuit,” said the winningest driver in tour history. “We’re not happy but at the same time we are satisfied for the time being with third as we pushed hard to reach the podium after what happened early in the event. We are heading to Valleyfield—a race I won a year ago—and feel we can win it again. I’m really looking forward to my trip to Quebec again in August.”
Canadian driver Mark Major, in only his second race since returning to F1 after a seven-year layoff, started fifth and looked as if his confidence was beginning to return with his fourth-place finish in his Speedmaster Marine/Jenkinson Telcom-sponsored boat. The driver from Newmarket, Ontario, is looking forward to racing in his home country in a few weeks. The third round of the tour takes place July 11-13 in Valleyfield, Quebec.
Jeff Shepard of Woodlawn, Tenn., ran a solid performance starting sixth and eventually taking fifth with series president and Nut House Yacht Club-sponsored driver Jose Mendana Jr. of Miami finishing sixth after starting fourth.
In the other two preliminary classes, veteran driver Mark Schmerbauch of Greenfield, Wisc., defeated Milo Degugas of Keyport, N.J., and Jim Robb of West Bloomfield, Mich., in the 17-boat Formula Lights class. Young Robert Rinker took the win in the F2 class ahead of Michigan’s Jimmie Merleau and Florida’s Rob Dinicolantonio in the 20-lap final.