Thirty-eight-year-old Michael Seebold notched his third River Race Augusta title on Sunday, dominating the Formula One field as few have in the annals of the Professional Racing Outboard Performance Tour.
Only two others in the 17-boat field were able to stay on the same lap as the winner, including his brother, Tim, who was second, and Jason Campbell of Chandler, Ariz., who finished third.
Rusty Campbell of Augusta had motor trouble all weekend, which left little time for testing. In the end, he used a Mercury factory engine right off the truck "and a prop we'd tested in calm water. I had plenty of power, but just too much prop," said the Augustan, who finished fifth behind Terry Rinker of Tampa, Fla., each finishing 29 laps of the 30-lap final.
Mike Seebold also had motor problems, breaking a drive shaft during Sunday morning testing and that, it turn, damaged his engine.
He changed the drive shaft and the engine, taking it off a boat his father, Bill, used in 1997, the latter's 46th year of competitive boat racing when he captured the PROP Tour title and then retired.
"I'm just tickled pink," declared a beaming Bill Seebold following his sons' one-two finish in the finals.
The victory also tied Mike Seebold with his brother and Scott Gillman for the most career wins -- four -- on the tour. The Seebolds have now won 10 of 21 races on the tour, which began in 1995.
Winning also brought Mike Seebold a step closer to his goal of duplicating his father's feat.
"I want to win the tour championship while I'm still driving hard," he said.
Then there's the saga of 20-year-old J.R. Saffold of Tampa, Fla., who captured the APR Powerboat Superleague SST-120 following a series of five crashes that eventually shortened the 30-lap final to 13 laps.
First, Saffold and Bill May of Tallahassee, Fla., bumped during the start, each leaving a hole in the other's boat. Later, Saffold's boat was holed again by a half-submerged log. By the time of the race-halting fifth mishap, his boat sat low in the water, but was still out in front.
Richard Hearn of Cincinnati finished second and May was third after Gary Pugh of Knoxville, Tenn., was disqualified for a technical violation.
The crew of Pugh, involved in a Saturday crash, worked all night to get the boat into racing condition.
"They didn't have time to weigh it and after the race, it was found a bit too light," said APR's Sherron Winer. "It (the violation) was unintentional because Gary just doesn't do things like that; nonetheless, we had to disqualify him."
None of the drivers in any of the crashes were injured. In fact, Alden Thornton of Kitty Hawk, N.C., who was involved in the final Formula One crash of the day, came back out in his backup boat just in time for the restart and wound up eighth.
The Formula Lites SST-45 class was captured by Shaun Torrente of Miami, Fla., whom class founder Fred Miller called "our dominant driver."
BOAT WAKES: River Race Augusta volunteer Tim Padgett was awarded the Gerald Wise Memorial Award and Ben Blackmon, general manager of Jones Intercable, was given the Paul R. "Bob" Hayes Memorial Trophy. Race co-chairman Felix Patrick was presented the 1998 River Race Augusta Leadership Award as well as a program autographed by all the Formula One drivers. Faces in the crowd: Larry and Ken Davis of Hinesville, Ga., longtime boat racers now into racing antique motorcycles; Parker Overton, owner of the firm sponsoring Rusty Campbell. Great guns: the 75 millimeter field howitzer fired at the start of each race by the Fort Gordon Ceremonial Detachment.
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