It appears that Tim Seebold has returned to his winning ways in his NGK Spark Plugs-sponsored Seebold tunnel boat as the five-time national champion secured his second straight victory to start the 2015 US F1 Powerboat Tour season with a strong race last weekend in Bay City, Mich., to follow up his performance in LaPorte, Ind., at the end of May.
The US F1 boats line up for the start of the race in Bay City, Mich., on Sunday. All photos courtesy Paul Kemiel/PaulKemielPhotographics.com
The 51-year-old Missouri native heads into Pittsburgh this Fourth of July weekend at the Three Rivers Regatta looking to keep the streak alive while seeking his first title on the national tour since 2007.
As he prepares for the third race of the season, Seebold, the winningest driver on the tour with 35 victories in 132 starts, understands he still has some work to do. Although Seebold’s closest competitor, Illinois driver Chris Fairchild, who finished second in Bay City and is just 18 points behind, won’t be able to attend the Pittsburgh event because of a prior engagement.
Seebold said his NGK Spark Plugs team has a lot of confidence heading into this weekend’s race in Pittsburgh.
“I’m feeling good about where we are at, at the moment,” Seebold said. “We are leading the championship and like a surfer, are riding a good wave of results. Everyone on this team is showing lots of confidence and that is important if your goal is to win a title.
“I love the challenge that the Allegheny River throws at us with this event,” he continued. “Both my father, Bill, and older brother, Michael, have won here. This is a special place, which dates back 34 years and has a rich history behind it, so you always want to do well and leave your mark.”
The third-generation boat racer still has the father-son duo from Tampa, Fla.—the Rinker family—to worry about. Veteran driver Terry Rinker, who holds a four-year record-setting championship streak of his own and has complied a record eight national titles, is struggling to find the winning edge this year as the AMSOIL/Rinker Racing driver took fastest qualifying honors in the first two races but finished second in LaPorte and fifth in Bay City.
“I think we’ve solved our problems and now we’re ready to get back into the hunt with three big races left in the season,” said Rinker, a 29-year boat-racing veteran. “We’ve won here in Pittsburgh before and enjoy the ambiance here and seeing the great fans that have been coming since the early 1980s. We are ready to put on a show for them once again.”
At the same time, Terry’s youngest son, Robert, is starting to come into his own. In his first full season of competing, Robert is tied with his father for third in the standings with 196 points. He finished fourth in the season opener in LaPorte and led the Grand Prix last week in Bay City before cutting the course and eventually taking fourth place for his transgressions.
Rookie driver Brent Dillard, a South Carolina native armed with his newly purchased Italian DAC boat from Como, snagged the last spot on the podium in his Dillard Financial Solutions, Inc.-sponsored boat. The young driver who came up from Formula Two finished third in only his second F1 race—he finished seventh in LaPorte after starting a lowly 18th.