2018 Springfield, Ohio’s “Wake the Lake Post Race Report
Springfield, Ohio’s “Wake the Lake” was the stage for the 5th round of the NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Championship producing the 5th different winner after 5 races in both F1 and F-Lights classes!
Springfield, Ohio’s “Lake at Champions Park” – on the grounds of the Historic Clark County Fairgrounds – set the scene for 5th round of the NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Championship held on August 10th-12th, 2018.
An impressive turnout of more than 40 sleek race boats arrived at Springfield to electrify the fans in the 2nd annual Springfield F1 Grand Prix “Wake the Lake 2” presented by Coldwell Banker/Heritage Roediger, including a giant fleet of 22 Formula 1 rockets, 8 Formula Lights racers and a squad of J Hydro junior drivers. In addition to the regular NGK F1 series racers, other water entertainment included a nostalgic Vintage race boat exhibition, wakeboarding and R/C boat demonstration as well as Stock Outboard racing. Other treats offered to the fun-loving fans were tailgate parties, VIP tents and driver autograph parades.
This particular lake is the only private circle boat racing facility in the US, now owned by the Clark County Fairgrounds. This body of water has a long history with the sport of boat racing, as it once was the private test lake for the legendary team owner and local engineering genius, Bill Chatfield, where state-of-the-art outboard technology was developed through his business, Micro Enterprises.
Some of the sport’s best drivers and teams honed their skills on this lake dating back some 40 years, including F1 racing ace, Rusty Campbell, who was on hand to recollect the history of F1 racing excitement with dozens of other racing dignitaries who had gathered here to celebrate the past.
Campbell, who retired from racing 18 years ago, was asked if he ever got the itch to get back in a race boat again. “When I arrived on Friday, and first saw the F1’s going around the course, I couldn’t sit still. I had to keep reminding myself that I am 61 years old – part of me says, “How well could you do?”—but I think I better just sit where I am and watch and enjoy these races.”
Campbell was among a group of racing celebrities attending, who had been connected to the teams that Chatfield managed, which included well known sponsor names like, Bob Thompson’s “Just Add Water”, “Arcadian” and “Overton’s”. Legendary sponsor Bob Thompson’s weekend was extra special, as one of the F1 competitors — #62 Chris Fairchild – ran the racing number #201, which was a tribute to Thompson’s extraordinary driver from the 1980’s, Ken Stevenson. Stevenson lost his life in a race in 1983, leaving behind a young son, Brandon. But after more than 35 years, Brandon Stevenson and Bob Thompson were brought together in Springfield as part of this fantastic and emotional reunion.
Other dignitaries who attended the joyous reunion of “Camp Chatfield” included Don Johnston, Ben Robertson, Jr., Mike Downard, Dana Delk, Rick Hoffman, Bill Seebold, Jr., Jim Booe, Dee Bergauer, Jim Nerstrom, Al Stoker, Roark Summerford and current F1 driver Chris Fairchild, who played a significant role in establishing this race in Springfield. Also attending was Chatfield’s current “Arcadian” driver, Mark Proffitt who competes using the team’s traditional number 27.
Racing action began on Saturday with four groups of F1 qualifying sessions on a tight, 1.1 mile 5-pin course that included a tricky right-hand turn. Each driver was given 4 minutes plus one lap to run for the fastest time and a chance to take pole position in their respective first heats. #27 Mark Proffitt earned pole for Heat 1A and series points leader, #20 Ashton Rinker earned pole position for Heat 1B; each of them leading wire-to-wire to finish first in their Heats.
In the reversed order Heat 2A, #03 Dustin Terry led the majority of the race until the very end when #27 passed Terry to take the win. Another surprise of the race was a driver who had never run an F1 boat before, Austin Cheatham. Cheatham was given an invite to drive the McCollough Racing Team’s #5 boat, normally driven by Reuben Stafford who was unable to make it to Springfield. Rookie Cheatham stunned the crowd by finishing 3rd.
Heat 2B had a bit of rough and tumble, starting off with several boats getting jammed together in the first turn as #2 Tracy Hawkins – 2nd in series points – dashed out to the front with #20 Rinker following close on his tail. During that traffic jam, #85 Mike Makus lost his pickle fork and #55 John Edde lost his steering. Makus was able to continue until the broken protruding pieces ended up causing him to stuff his boat in turn #5, taking him out for the weekend.
The Makus’ crash caused a restart, allowing Rinker, last weeks winner in Pittsburgh to get around Hawkins followed by #94 Rusty Wyatt. But upon review of video footage after the race, it was determined that Rinker had made a false start, which transferred the win to Hawkins.
Sunday racing was presented with a gorgeous sunny sky with glass-smooth water. The F1 Heat 3A saw #03 Dustin Terry jump out to the front and sail to the win with #27 Proffitt giving him pressure.
But Heat 3B was a different story. Immediately after the flag dropped, chaos erupted in Turn #2 just before the right-hander. #24 Spencer Love collided with #71 Kerr, rolling Love over and causing Kerr to submarine below the surface. Right behind was Rookie points leader, #99 Travis Yates, who had nowhere to go. The boat of Kerr resurfaced directly in front of the #99, causing Yates to plow his right sponson into the powerhead of the #71. All three boats were out for the weekend, but all drivers were okay.
The restart was delayed to allow rescue crews to clear all the debris from the 3-boat pile-up, but when the flag dropped, all eyes were on #53 Greg Foster who jumped out into the lead. Foster’s team had fought gremlins all weekend long, but after hours and hours of searching, they had discovered faulty reeds. Now with Foster’s motor running strong, he was back in the hunt, taking the win while #20 Rinker was in hot pursuit. Back a little further was the #2 Hawkins in 3rd in a battle with #94 Wyatt. Foster would end up with the victory.
Seventeen boats lined up for the Formula 1 Final on Sunday afternoon, with #27 Mark Proffitt “Arcadian” on the pole. Beside Proffitt was #2 Tracy Hawkins, #03 Dustin Terry, #94 Rusty Wyatt and #20 Rinker.
As the flag dropped, #03 Terry leapt off the dock and shot out to the front of the pack, getting by both #27 and #2. Jumping into 3rd was #20 Rinker.
Around lap number six, #53 Foster was able to pass #2 Hawkins for 4th and continued on a mission to find his way to the front. When #27 Proffitt passed #03 Terry during lapped traffic congestion, #20 Rinker was able to take advantage and maneuver into 2nd place – leaving #03 to deal with a fire breathing #53 Foster in 4th. As soon as #53 Foster got around #03 Terry, #55 John Edde, who is vying for Rookie of the Year, went dead on the course, causing the race to be yellow flagged, giving Terry a second chance to get back out in front.
Dustin Terry of Thibodaux, LA was able to repeat his great start by jumping from 4th to 1st at the drop of the flag, with Rinker right on his hip at the first turn. Foster and Hawkins maintained 3rd and 4th. #27 Proffitt dropped back to 5th.
While Terry held a comfortable lead, the race course excitement was back between Rinker and Foster, as Foster darted in and out like a hummingbird, searching for an opening to get around Rinker. Just as the race was coming to an end, Foster made his move and nudged past Rinker at the right-hander. But his sponson dipped too hard and he hooked right, allowing Rinker to sail back around him and finish in 2nd place.
Dustin Terry said the win was unexpected. “We drove hard all weekend and put ourselves in a good position for a decent finish and we were just excited about that. Then it seemed like all the stars aligned. It got a little close at the end – a little closer than I wanted it to. We lost the lead once – that was disappointing – and the guys calmed me down and said, ‘Let’s just get a good restart.’ And that’s what we did.”
Terry added, “This is what we needed late in the season and hopefully we can carry that momentum into Orange and then that will lead to a good offseason. That’s what you need at the end of the year.”
The restart was poor timing for Rinker, since he had just worked his way up the field. “I had just got around Dustin Terry and I was in 2nd working on Proffitt. I saw Proffitt was having some trouble on that right-hander and I was getting through it a lot smoother, so I was thinking that in maybe 5 laps I was going to get around him and then be able to string it all the way out.”
But Rinker was not disappointed about his race weekend. “We came from 5th and we finished 2nd, so I’m happy with Rinker Racing, Lickity Split Ice Cream and Dumford Irrigation helping us get here. And my crew chief, James Chambers, and my wonderful crew –
- I couldn’t do it without them.“
Up until the Final, Foster’s weekend was a chore, as he and his crew searched for a gremlin that had plagued them all weekend. “We struggled all Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning we came here and changed some more things. All of a sudden, it clicked. And then the boat started running good, but we were so far back on the dock, it just took a long time to get up there and fight my way through. I almost had second place but I messed up and drove it into the right hander too hard and almost spun it out, but got back into 3rd, so we’re good. Ended up on the podium and that’s nice! Got a couple more points and have one more race – I don’t think we can win the deal, but hopefully we are up there.”
After the awards ceremony, the top 3 drivers and their boats headed for inspection, where boats were weighed and motors were torn down and measured to match manufacturer specifications. During the post-race inspection, it was discovered Dustin Terry’s #03 entry had a technical violation. While his final finish position will stand, the violation resulted in the loss of all points for the weekend along with a monetary fine and loss of prize money.
#20 Ashton Rinker picked up more precious points, which gives him extra padding for the series points tally; 137.5 points ahead of #2 Tracy Hawkins. Greg Foster moved into 3rd while #4 Wesley Cheatham sits in 4th.
The Rookie Points Chase has #99 Travis Yates with 637 points and #55 John Edde with 609, who was driving a leased boat after his impact with a metal buoy in Pittsburgh caused serious damage to his race boat. Yates also has some major repair work to do on his craft before he heads to the fifth and final Round in Orange, TX.
The competition in the NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Championship is red hot, having no repeat winners — five races have produced five different winners in both Formula 1 and Formula Light classes. For the current points standings for all the competitors, visit www.ngkf1.com.
The NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Final
- Dustin Terry #03
- Ashton Rinker #20
- Greg Foster #53
- Tracy Hawkins #2
- Rusty Wyatt #94
- Wesley Cheatham #4
- Fred Durr #96
- John Fleming #9
- Chris Fairchild #62
- Mike Klepadlo #35
- Jeff Reno #34
- Mark Proffitt #27
- David McMurray #57
- Tim Kraft #15
- Jim Robb #13
- John Edde #55
- Austin Cheatham #5
- Richard Young #33
- Mike Makus #85 DNS
- Spencer Love #24 DNS
- Travis Yates #99 DNS
- Rich Kerr #14 DNS
In Formula Lights, 8 boats competed in Heat race action on Saturday. Points leader #8 Jeremiah Mayo from Richmond, TX easily bested the field, but the reverse order heat was not so easy. Mayo, starting next to last, pulled his way up through the field to finish 3rd. The winner was #77 Dan Trosen followed by #66 Steve Merleau. Merleau came back in Heat 3 and took the win, followed by Mayo and fourteen-year-old Grant Schubert in #13.
For the start of the Formula Lights Final, Merleau sat on pole followed by Mayo, Trosen, Schubert, #40 Austin Cheatham and #01 Kelly Ireland.
When the flag dropped, Cheatham pulled into 3rd. As the race progressed, tight racing brewed between leader Merleau and second place Mayo, while another battle behind them raged between Cheatham and Trosen. Behind that pair was a third battle between Ireland and Schubert, who drove like mad hoping to pass Ireland.
At about lap 10, Trosen took out a turn buoy and dropped out, and the race was restarted.
On the restart, with only 7 laps remaining, everyone knew that the start off the beach would likely determine the eventual winner. The racer first off the beach was #66 Merleau followed by #8 Mayo, who did everything he could to make a move on #66, but never got the chance. Third place went to #40 Austin Cheatham and Schubert ended up fourth.
Merleau explained his race strategy. “I told myself, “If I could just win that third heat race, that would set me up in pole position, and if I can get pole position, it’s going to be real hard to get around me. And that’s exactly what we did. We ran pin-to-pin and even had a restart — which didn’t make me very happy – but I calmed myself down and we came off that beach on the second restart just as good as the first time and took it for the win.”
The NGK Spark Plugs Formula Lights Final
- Steve Merleau #66
- Jeremiah Mayo #8
- Austin Cheatham #40
- Grant Schubert #13
- Thomas Schlarb #47
- Debby Mobley #45
- Kelly Ireland #01
- Dan Trosen #77
The NGK Spark Plugs JHydro Final
- Alden Merrill #17K
- Trenton Schlarb #347
- Colby Crook #15K
- Jack Schubert #16
Springfield F1 Grand Prix “Wake the Lake” is now considered to be one of the driver’s favorite places to race. Teams and crews are excited to return again in 2019.
Greenlight TV will film the NGK Spark Plugs F1 racing action all season long, producing six 30-minute shows airing on CBS Sports Network. The “Wake the Lake” Springfield F1 Grand Prix will air on August 29th at 7:30 pm Central and repeats at 10:30 pm Central. Follow the series on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/NGKF1PowerboatChampionship where you can view images in the photo gallery and watch the recording of the Live Feed from the Formula One and Formula Lights Final. Also visit NGKF1.com for further information about the NGK F1 Series, including driver bios and point standings.
The NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Championship is ecstatic to have the strong commitment of title sponsor, NGK Spark Plugs – The Ignition Specialist. Since 1936, NGK Spark Plugs has been the world leader in technology, innovation, and world-class quality in the design of spark plugs and oxygen sensors. Today, NGK manufactures NGK Spark Plugs and NTK Oxygen Sensors for virtually every automotive manufacturer in the world.
NGK has built a reputation for quality and reliability, and a commitment to excellence continues to be the driving force behind the company’s advanced research and development programs. In North America, NGK is headquartered in Wixom, MI and maintains manufacturing, inventory, and distribution facilities in Irvine, CA, Sissonville, WV, and Chicago, IL.