Veteran Terry Rinker came home with his third victory in four starts this season to win a record-setting fourth-straight US F1 Powerboat Tour Championship. The Team AMSOIL/Rinker Racing driver from Tampa, Fla., bested 13 other drivers around the always-challenging 1.3-mile seven-pin circuit in front of tens of thousands of race fans at the 65th annual Seattle Seafair on Lake Washington.
In Seattle, Terry Rinker showed why he's the best in the business with his unprecedented fourth-straight title. Photos by F. Peirce Williams
Starting from the pole, Rinker jumped out to an early lead before Canadian driver Mike Maskall crashed on the opening lap, which brought out the red flag and forced a restart of the 12-lap final. That didn't stop the 19-year F1 veteran, who took home his 26th career victory, from finishing five seconds ahead of second-place finisher Greg Foster—the Seafair winner in 2012—in his Fox Plumbing-sponsored boat.
"We knew we had to be consistent and that's exactly what we did," said Rinker, who earned his eighth victory in his last 13 starts. "We got stronger as the day rolled along and by the time we had the restart we were feeling very confident and got the job done in style. I am looking forward to not only defending my title once again but also being stronger in 2015."
Taking third place was Miami driver Jose Mendana Jr., who reached the podium for the first time in 20 career starts. Driving in his Nut House Yacht Club-sponsored boat, the 30-year-old president of US F1 had to hold off his younger brother and last year's Rookie of the Year, Carlos Mendana, who finished fourth.
"It was a fantastic result for me and the team, and now we can go back to South Florida with renewed confidence," Jose said. "After blowing another motor Friday we were in serious trouble with possibly not being able to make it on the water this weekend. A big thanks goes to the NGK team for its help. Hopefully we can build on this finish and start knocking podiums out consistently in 2015."
Another driver who had a great result was Mark Welch as the Doc's Tile driver from Wayzata, Minn., charged up from his ninth starting position to finish fifth while his 22-year-old son, Tyler, took eighth after struggling most of the weekend in his older English-built Burgess boat.
After failing to finish, two drivers who were big factors in fighting for the overall title coming into the weekend left with disappointment.
Five-time series champ Tim Seebold, driving his NGK-sponsored boat, came to Seattle just eight points behind Rinker. But a rare DNF with an engine malady, coupled with an engine fire to his primary power plant on Saturday, left him 25 points back in second overall and headed home to Missouri to plan his 2015 campaign.
Although his chances for a title were slim, Chris Fairchild of Paw Paw, Ill., was strong early in the weekend with a pair of heat victories. However, the Mercury Racing-sponsored driver exited the final early with an engine failure and became an unwanted spectator after reaching the podium in the first three races of 2014.