Rinker Remains On A Roll With
Fourth-Straight NGK F1 Victory In Ohio
Written by Jason Johnson
Following the last-minute cancellation of the fourth race of the 2019 NGK Spark Plugs F1 Powerboat Championship in Pittsburgh—an unfortunate turn of events that had nothing to do with the NGK F1 series and has even led to legal action against the local management company—the series organizers and teams rebounded to put on a remarkable show a week later at last weekend’s Springfield F1 Grand Prix in Ohio.
Ashton Rinker remained hot in Springfield, Ohio, last weekend, winning his fourth-straight NGK Spark Plugs F1 Powerboat Championship race of the season. All photos courtesy Kevin Pyles/MOTO Marketing Group
Although the victor was the same—Florida’s Ashton Rinker earned his fourth win in four races this season—the third annual “Wake the Lake” that took place on Champions Park Lake at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio, appears to have put the city back on the international boat racing map thanks to the privately held multi-use permanent powerboat racing facility.
“Winning in Springfield was awesome because it’s like the Indy 500 for our sport; but it was even cooler to see my cousin (Chris Rinker) finish fourth last weekend,” said Rinker, who has a chance to become the first undefeated driver in an F1 tunnel-boat season since his father, Terry, won every race in 2006. “Chris is a rookie driver and he continues to improve and climb up the point standings. It’s cool to see how much he’s developed and how well he’s competing with some of the best drivers in the country.
“Not at all—we’re in a great place right now and we’re going to continue to put the best possible boat on the water,” added Rinker when asked if he or his teammates are getting complacent after winning the first four races of the season. “For me, it’s been a great season, but we need to finish it off in Colorado in a couple of weeks. Besides the Pittsburgh setback, which was disappointing but out of our control, the series as a whole is going very well and the competition amongst the teams is the best it’s been in many years. We have some big-name sponsors showing interest for next year.”
Rinker made sure to thank his teammates, particularly his crew chief James Chambers, as well as his primary sponsors, which include Rinker’s Boat World and McLain Trailers. Obviously he is confident heading into the Roar of the Rockies season finale in Windsor, Colo. (Aug. 31-Sept. 1).
“We’re dialed in—it’s going to be hard for anyone to catch us,” Rinker continued. “We’re not skipping a beat and I don’t think the altitude of Colorado is going to affect us. We might lose some horsepower, but we have some tricks up our sleeves. We have good motors, a nice selection of props available and some other goodies in the toolbox. Our goal now is to get Chris on the podium and get him up there in overall points.”
Fairchild, a two-time American Power Boat Association Hall of Champions inductee, called the 2019 event the best one yet and thanked everyone from the sponsors and the fans to the fairground officials and the teams that made the trip to Ohio for the event.
“It was a great weekend with great weather, great fans and great competitors,” Fairchild said. “B2B Motorsports and UPPG cannot thank the Clark County Fairgrounds and Dean Blair enough for the fabulous facility. We had a massive field of boats in all the classes, including OPC and mods, and we had massive crowds. Champions Park is truly becoming the place to race.”
In the competitive Formula Lights class, Michigan's Steve Merleau finished ahead of Texas' Grant Schubert and Florida's Carlos Mendana. In the J-Hydro class, Kentucky's Alden Merrill edged out a couple of Texans—Shane Bulter and Jack Schubert—to claim the victory and move into third in the overall standings behind Butler (first) and Schubert.
2019 NGK F1 Powerboat Championship Series Round 5 in Springfield, OH August 9-11th
NGK Spark Plugs F1 Powerboat Championship ready to "wake up" Springfield, OH with high-adrenaline boat racing action returning to "Wake the Lake 3" on Aug. 9-11, 2019. "Lake at Champions Park" inside the Historic Clark County Fairgrounds will be the site of this popular event for the 3rd consecutive year.
"Wake the Lake 3", presented by Coldwell Banker, will be roaring into Springfield, OH on August 10-11, 2019 for the 4th round of the NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Championship, marking the 3rd annual F1 racing event at the popular "Lake at Champions Park," a protected smooth-water lake inside the Historic Clark County Fairgrounds. This body of water has a long history with speed, as it was a secret test lake for many of boat racing's legends, and where state-of-the-art outboard technology was developed.
Along with the NGK F1 stars, fans will be entranced by the Formula Lights racers; smaller rockets that can maneuver through the tight corners just as deftly as the F1's. An eager squad of J Hydro junior drivers will also be on hand as well as several classes of Stock Outboard.
The weekend will be loaded with activities for all the fans, including tailgate parties, vendors, VIP tents, "Saving Pluto" concert, R/C boats, driver autograph parade and more! Gates open at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $15 per day, or $25 for a weekend pass. Free admission for kids 12 and under. Friday's testing day is also free.
With only two races left of the 2019 season, racers are running out of time to add to the seasonal point chase. Currently leading in F1 points is Florida racer, and reigning 2018 NGK F1 Champion, #20 Ashton Rinker "Rinker's Boat World," with 885 points. Rinker has been victorious at all three of the series events this season, but closing in behind him is driver #62 Chris Fairchild of Paw Paw, IL, who has managed to nail 4 heat victories this season but continues to miss out on a Final win. Fairchild joined the ranks of McCollough Racing Team this year and sits in second with 796 points. The lone Canadian driver, #94 Rusty Wyatt, who is often seen leading the pack in heat races, is also hungry to grab his first Final heat victory.
Full 2019 NGK F1 season schedule:
Airs: Sunday, July 14, 2019, 12:30 p.m. ET
Airs: Sunday, August 4, 2019, 12:30 p.m. ET
*APBA F-Light (SST45) Divisional Championships
Airs: Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, 12:30 p.m. ET