Formula One PROP Tour Kicks Off Season
|AMSOIL Regency Platinum Direct Jobber Shirley Green explains the virtues of AMSOIL lubricants.|
The cool Colorado River widens below the Davis Dam. It is an oasis between quiet Bullhead City, Arizona and frenetic Laughlin, Nevada. To the east are desert dunes; on the west are gambling chips. The river also hosts high stakes world-class boat racing, the Formula One PROP Tour of which AMSOIL is a sponsor.
Laughlin is the first stop for the tour each season. The action kicks off in the Mojave warmth to enthusiastic crowds during the first weekend of June. It was a weekend of swimsuits, tanning oil and spectacular racing. Temperatures are expectedly milder in the early summer, but 118-degrees greeted teams this year. AMSOIL lubricants were up to the test and performed exceptionally in the dry heat.
Overall, conditions in and out of the water were difficult, but acceptable for drivers. They had to negotiate a swift nine mile-per-hour current on the racecourse, typical for this event because of the dam. On land it was a bit tougher with 30 mile-per-hour wind gusts swirling sand and drying the mouth. Even the most hearty desert dwellers ran for cover when the winds began rushing through the valley.
|Drivers and crew members get instructions prior to hitting the water.|
Race weekend starts 8 a.m. Saturday with the drivers meeting. Under the shade of a few palm trees, 16 teams gathered to hear rule changes, ask questions and listen to new sponsors. AMSOIL is on board this season as “The Official 2-Cycle Oil” of the PROP Tour. AMSOIL will also contribute to the year-end contingency point fund. Each team is required to purchase AMSOIL 2-Cycle Oil from the PROP Tour. Each boat carries the distinctive red, white and blue AMSOIL logo. Everywhere a person looked, AMSOIL was there.
The boats are essentially airplanes on water. They’re made of wood and carbon fiber. They’re built aerodynamically so that at top speed only the very end of the boat, just a few inches, is in the water. The boat rides on a cushion of air. The engines are outboards, generally Mercury-made, turning out 360–370 horsepower. On this mile-long course drivers will exceed 120 miles per hour. On some courses the boats will do 130 to 140 miles per hour and 150 is reachable. Drivers are able to pilot their boats tightly around floating course markers. The highly maneuverable boats can turn on a dime.
|The Blackhawk Racing Team of Terry Rinker uses AMSOIL lubricants. It’s one of the top teams.|
|Rinker rests in boat’s cockpit while getting last minute instructions from PROP Tour CEO Bart Garbrecht.|
Saturday morning is set for testing. Crews quickly transfer boats from the pits to the water. They put floppy-hat anglers to shame with how quickly they put boats in and out of the water.
Helmeted drivers are wedged into the cockpits. Some drivers choose to wear real fighter pilot helmets. All are required to wear an oxygen mask.
Later in the weekend it became clear why the oxygen is so important.
Saturday’s main event is the race for pole position. Some favorites this weekend are last year’s champion Tim Seebold in his blue Bud Light boat, Greg Foster in the red Sherwin Williams and Terry Rinker is his canary yellow Rinker Boats ride. Shortly after the flag dropped spectators saw the first wreck of the weekend. A boat ran out of space and hit a marker buoy. The boat flipped and tumbled straight toward the shoreline. Fans bolted from their seats, but they were never in any real danger. Debris floated down river as rescuers quickly pulled the driver from the boat. The safety equipment worked perfectly and the driver was fine. As a precaution, all drivers involved in accidents are brought in on a stretcher to be checked out by medical personnel.
Rinker won the pole for this event. The fastest time for the AMSOIL lubricated boat was 28.6 seconds and 125.7 miles per hour. That wasn’t bad considering this was a rough course and the first race of the year. Rinker’s crew has been sold on AMSOIL for years. Blackhawk / Rinker’s Crew Chief James Chambers says he’s been sold on AMSOIL since the days he was behind the wheel 20 years ago.
|Shirley Green and driver Tim Seebold are all smiles after first AMSOIL-sponsored Formula One PROP Tour win. Seebold is reigning series champion.|
Sunday’s conditions were much the same with temperatures in the triple digits and a stiff breeze. The feature was an exhibition of watercraft wreckage. Five laps in and the first wreck happened. A favorite to win, Greg Foster, flipped over. He was fine, but his boat was totalled. It floated away in the river current to be retrieved later. Five laps later, Carlos Kuri, a crowd favorite, lost control of his fine boat. His shredded Telmex boat remained upside down for several minutes. The crowd grew edgy. Kuri was pulled from the boat, shaken, but all right. While crews worked in the wet pits to realign the remaining boats, bikini- and shorts-clad viewers got a chance to get a drink and reapply the sunscreen. Temperatures were still above 100 degrees. Finals are 40 laps and generally take 20 minutes or so to complete. By this time drivers had been in their harnesses for nearly an hour. At the drop of the flag, the remaining boats were on their way, 30 laps to go. The boats sound like jets tearing across the water. Drivers jockey for clean water as they try to stay out of the rooster tail spray of the other boats. Terry Rinker continued his dominance. The power he showed winning the pole had carried over to the final.
|Safety team rescues driver after his boat flipped. The driver was uninjured.||A dejected Rinker thinks about what might have been. A tripped fuel switch (in green triangle on boat) cost him a win.|
He led after every restart. It looked like it was going to be his day. Thirty-four laps in the books and disaster struck. A fuel switch got tripped on the side of Rinker’s boat causing it to shut down. Reigning champion Tim Seebold seized the moment and finished the final four laps in first place. Seebold got an early start in retaining his title. Rinker’s team would settle for eighth.
The Colorado River acts as border, but it also separates the skilled from the unproven. It can be beautiful, yet treacherous. This Formula One PROP Tour race proved that anything can happen in racing and that AMSOIL lubricants are the choice of front-runners.
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