Today's Formula One outboard battles in the 13th River Race Augusta have Civil War overtones with brother pitted against brother.
It will be 38-year-old Mike Seebold sitting side by side with his brother, Tim, 34, in the first of two Formula One semifinal heats scheduled to start at 2 p.m., on the sultry Savannah River.
Augusta's Rusty Campbell, the defending River Race Augusta champion, suffered a setback Saturday when a piston broke shortly after starting on his qualifying heat.
"The good news is that (Overton's crew chief) Bill Chatfield knows why it happened and it wasn't my fault," Campbell said. "He's installing new pistons in my backup motor, so we'll be ready to go tomorrow."
Campbell and Ted Gryguc of Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, who finished last in the second qualifying heat, will be sitting side-by-side as last-place starters in the first semifinal. Gryguc (pronounced graGOOCH) is driving a boat Campbell raced last year.
Meanwhile, Bud Light Racing Team crew chief Bill Seebold is patting himself on the back following the twin success stories of his sons.
"I think the crew chief is doing a hell of a job," grinned the elder Seebold after watching his elder son, Mike, dominate the first qualifying heat with a speed of 116.6 mph for 10 laps. His grin grew wider when Tim Seebold outdistanced the field in the second heat with a speed of 108.9 mph.
"Mike's really cooking and maybe he's just a bit faster than Tim. Of course, everything they run has No. 7 on it, and I'll take my prop back now," said the senior Seebold, referring to his racing number.
"You always had all the good stuff," said Tim Seebold.
In other action, 20-year-old J.R. Saffold of Tampa, Fla., rallied to win the first heat of the APR Powerboat Superleague SST-120 class.
Trailing John Schubert of Houston, Texas for most of the race, Saffold powered past him on the last turn of the final lap to pull out the victory. Schubert, son of former International Outboard Grand Prix official Bob Schubert, is racing the backup boat of Formula One driver Todd Bowden of Monrovia, Calif.
Saffold nailed down the pole for today's 30-lap final, his combined lap times of 21:07 shading No. 2 Bill May of Tallahassee, Fla., with 21:23.
"I'd wrecked the boat before River Race and wasn't really sure I'd be here," Saffold said. "I'm very happy."
The Superleague races produced the day's only mishaps when Scott Ard of Lake City, S.C., and Gary Pugh of Knoxville, Tenn., collided in turns 1 and 2. Neither was injured, but their racing weekend's over. Ricky Lopez of Martinez was knocked out in a collision that splintered his boat's right pickle fork.
Eric Johnson of Loudon, Tenn., and Harry Clack of Lafayette, La., collided in the second 120 qualifier and both perched glumly on the decks as their boats drifted downstream, each in a sinking condition.
Greg Berghauer of Shorewood, Wis., won the Formula Lite (SST-45) first qualifying heat and Shaun Torrente of Miami outran Brad Schaub of West Bend, Wis., in a close race to win the second heat.
The inflatables were fun to watch, with several drivers celebrating by trying to stand their boats on their sterns by doing "wheelie-like" maneuvers at the end.
They're scheduled to go again today at 11 a.m.
BOAT WAKES: Mike Askren of Lincolnton, Ga., crewed for inflatables racer Jim Sprenger and will do it again today. The 26 SST-120s are the most ever to start (by one) an American Performance Racing Powerboat Superleague event, according to Sherron Winer. What does it cost to compete on the PROP Formula One circuit? "If you're going to do it right, with a two-boat team, about $200,000," said PROP's Bart Garbrecht.
8 a.m., Gates open
9:30-11:30, Limited testing
11-11:30, Inflatable Tunnel Boat Race
12:30-1:15, Formula One consolation race (optional)
1:15-2 p.m., SST-120 final, 30 laps
2-2:30, Formula One semifinal heat No. 1, 15 laps
2:30-3, Formula One semifinal heat No. 2 (reverse order of heat No. 1 finish), 15 laps
3:30-4:30, Formula Lights final, 30 laps
4:30-5:30, Formula One final, 30 laps
6 p.m., Awards ceremony in pits area.
Proceeds: River Race proceeds will benefit United Cerebral Palsy.
Ticket information: (706) 739-1925.
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