In an effort to begin solidifying a new scoring method for its 2017 season, US F1 Powerboat Tour officials plan to get in one final test of the Webscorer pilot program at this weekend’s Three Rivers Regatta in Pittsburgh (Aug. 6-7).
The US F1 tunnel boats line up for the start at the Regates De Valleyfield in Quebec, Canada. Photo courtesy Jason Miller
US F1 used Webscorer, a program that allows team representatives and fans to monitor both qualifying and race times in a live, real-time digital format, in an unofficial test capacity at the Regates De Valleyfield, just outside Canada’s Montreal. The move was greeted with praise by racers and teams, all of which said they look forward to the live scoring capabilities being full scale next season.
“It worked really well and was great to have while our guys were running—it let us know exactly where we stood at all times,” said Formula Lights driver R.J. West, who served as radioman for Greg Foster, who finished second at Valleyfield. “I think this is going to be huge for tunnel boat racing moving forward.”
According to Jason Miller, general manager of the North American Speedboat Federation, Webscorer will allow official scorers to post lap-by-lap qualifying and in-race lap times and standings to give team representatives real-time updates. Team reps will then be able to keep their drivers updated throughout qualifying and racing as to where they stand.
Following Terry Rinker’s first 2016 US F1 victory in Valleyfield, this weekend’s season finale in Pittsburgh features one of the closest battles in recent years. Heading into the Three Rivers Regatta on the Allegheny River, Rinker is tied with longtime rival Tim Seebold atop the standings with 307 points, and the veteran Foster, who took a resounding victory in Bay City in late June and was second to Rinker in Canada, is 12 points back.
The fact that three past champions are at the top of the standings is made only more intriguing because the youngest member of the legendary Seebold family is retiring following the 2016 season.
Seebold, in his NGK Spark Plug-sponsored Seebold Racing Team hull, would love to capture his final victory in his final race of a career that has spanned three decades and made him the winningest driver in the history of the tour with 37 victories dating back to 1994.
The 52-year-old from Osage Beach, Mo., won the season-opener in LaPorte, Ind., in early June (at right, click image to enlarge), but a pair of third-place finishes in Bay City and Valleyfield has left him in a virtual tie with Rinker, the six-time series champion who drives the AMSOIL/Rinker Racing-sponsored Blackhawk raceboat.
“It’s hard to believe it is all coming to an end,” Seebold said. “It all started with my grandfather back in the 1930s when he raced on the Missouri river and continued with my Hall-of-Fame father Bill through the late 1990s and ends with me this weekend. It seems almost surreal, but you have to move on eventually and we are looking forward to the future.”
Foster, a two-time tour champion who drives the Dillard Financial Group-sponsored Italian-built DAC boat, knows he has his work cut out for him in Pittsburgh.
“We’ve never won here, but we are ready to do what it takes to upset the apple cart this weekend,” said the Orange, Calif., resident. “We are sitting back at 295 points and we’ll need not only a perfect weekend but some luck at the same time to take the title. We are confident we still have a solid chance to do just that.”
Jose Mendana, Jr., and Rob Rinker (Terry’s son) are currently in fourth and fifth place, respectively, heading into the finale in Pittsburgh.
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