2021 Lake Race Report
By: Valerie Collins
The NGK Spark Plugs Formula One Powerboat Championship put on a weekend of spectacular racing in front of thousands of race fans June 3-5, 2021, bringing their high-performance show to Lake of the Ozarks, MO for the very first time.
The 3rd event of the NGK F1 Series’ 2021 season, “Formula 1 Lake Race” ran as a companion event to the Offshore Powerboat Association’s “Lake Race”, occurring during the 90th Anniversary of the town’s beloved Bagnell Dam.
Lake of the Ozarks is also the hometown of NGK F1 Series Manager, Tim Seebold, making the success of this long-awaited event even sweeter.
The event brought together three different disciplines of boat racing, providing a wide assortment of racing entertainment for every type of powerboat fan. Formula 1 and Tri Hull were the two classes from NGK F1 with a total of 25 entries, while OPA brought their offshore fleet for a weekend filled with sun, fun, and non-stop racing action which kept spectators on their feet.
The state of Missouri was once a stronghold for high stakes tunnel boat racing as it hosted the famous St. Louis Grand Prix which started in 1972 and ended with the last race in 2008. Thus, the fans were extremely delighted to see the outboard tunnels back for a show in the Show-Me state, a new tradition that the Series hopes will continue for years to come.
Precision planning by the organizers kept the action hopping with non-stop competition on the water, allowing for constant entertainment and happy fans. The event saw several high-speed spills, but with the sport’s long running focus on safety enhancements, those competitors were free of injuries.
In the Formula 1 class, competitors came from all over North America, hungry to compete for a third time after a year of COVID-19 quarantine. The winner of the first two events of the season, #93 RJ West, was not able to make this round due to family commitments, leaving the odds for “favorite to win” up in the air.
Instead of the usual modified Le Mans-style, flag-drop dock start, organizers opted for a rolling start, with racers paired up two by two, following a pace boat. During the first F1 heat of the day, #9 Johnny Fleming of The Woodlands, TX, easily bested the field, leading wire to wire. Finishing in second was #24 Spencer Love of Santa Rosa Valley, CA followed by #17 Dylan Anderson of Nashville, TN taking third.
The second heat for F1 was a reverse order start, with competitors lining up in reverse order of their earlier finish. With the wind coming across from the coves, drivers had their hands full. While pushing from 5th place to 4th, #71 Jimmy Kerr blew over directly in front of one of the race sponsor restaurants, Neon Taco, stopping the race one lap early. This resulted in a trio of new top-three finishers led by #77 Mike Quindazzi of Parker, AZ – who suffered from battery issues in the earlier heat – followed by former multi-champion #10 Terry Rinker driving for “Phase Three Performance”. Third place went to #13 Aaron Wachholtz of Forest Lake, MN, his first weekend racing in a new boat he personally built.
The line-up for the F1 Final race put #17 Dylan Anderson starting on pole with #9 Johnny Fleming, #10 Terry Rinker and #24 Spencer Love starting in 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions. Anderson shot out into the lead, but his dreams of victory came to a halt on lap #2 when his boat fell into an enormous hole at the turn, which spun his racing craft around, swapping ends, bow to stern. On the restart, #10 Rinker took the lead and never looked back. Finishing on the podium with Rinker was second place finisher #9 Fleming and third place going to #24 Love.
Rinker, who had taken several years off from racing, was asked to come back into the sport by team owner Jim Slack, whose original “Phase Three Performance” driver, Canadian Rusty Wyatt, learned he could not cross the border from Canada due to COVID-19 restrictions.
When asked about his victory, Rinker said, “It is always great to win an inaugural event knowing that title will always stand, as it does for the 2017 Springfield, Ohio event as well.” Regarding his time away from the sport, he said, “It was tough stepping away from competition a few years ago. Fortunately, I was still able to be involved and took great pride in watching my son Ashton showcase his talent amongst the elite group of competition in F1.” He continued, “The offer from Jim Slack of “Phase Three Performance” was a welcome surprise, knowing that Jim would put together a first-class operation. My previous involvement with the Phase Three team manager, Brendan Power, who was also part of the success of the Rinker/Amsoil Team, made it a good fit. I knew he would bring his expertise, along with the excellent rigging of Tyler Percy and crew member Shane “The Missing Link” Strauss. With Jamie Sullivan and Frank Force, two men who crewed with me previously, a great team has been formed. I hope to bring the team many more wins.”
The Tri Hull class, with its own private brand of raucous racing competition, arrived at Lake of the Ozarks without its 2021 points leader, Cory Walker of Richmond, TX. Nearly a dozen racers were on hand to become the next event winner. #13 Grant Schubert of Richmond, TX — who is a high school student and youngest racer of the class — won the qualifying heat like an old-time veteran. Heat #2 was won by #99 Devyn Brown of Katy, TX and Heat #3 was won by the only woman in the field, the daring #9 Whittney Terry Fletcher.
The Tri Hull Final starting grid saw Schubert on the pole, followed by Fletcher, Brown and the formidable seventy-seven-year-old Jerry Rinker #52, who has been racing boats for a whopping 70 years and is the 2019 NGK Tri Hull Champion. By lap 4, Rinker had moved into 3rd spot, with an incredible battle between Schubert and Fletcher just ahead in his view.
By lap number 15, #99 Devyn Brown had worked his way up to third behind Fletcher. Two laps later, Fletcher took advantage of lapped traffic and made a move on leader Schubert, diving to his inside and running off with the lead, securing her first Tri Hull win.
Fletcher, who hails from Thibodaux, LA, described her win, “Sometimes you have to leave them confused for a second! Actually, it’s more like I dove in and hoped it would work.”
When asked about her patience before making her winning move, she explained, “I’ve always been pretty good at driving the boat hard, but I never had much patience to wait for the right move. Hopefully, this means I’m learning. This win is a big, wonderful feeling, and I am so happy to share it with my husband, my dad, stepmom, and my brother.” Whittney’s brother — F1 driver Dustin Terry — was on hand to give her the traditional “dunking” for first time race winners, which is a splashdown into the same water that provided the victory. “My guys all had to catch me in running jumps. Dustin caught me, bear-hugged me, then immediately threw me in the water!”
The race was broadcast on national television stations reaching 40,000,000 households and viewed live on NGK F1 as well as YouTube Live via KRMS TV. Fans could also follow along by watching NGK F1’s revolutionary Live Timing system on www.ngkf1.com, which allows fans to watch instant race positioning in real time.
For more information on the exciting NGK Spark Plugs Formula One Powerboat Championship, follow NGK F1 Powerboat Championship on Facebook.
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. For more information, visit www.NGK.com.
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.
Lake Race Final Results for F1:
1. TERRY RINKER #10
2. JOHNNY FLEMING #9
3. SPENCER LOVE #24
4. MIKE QUINDAZZI #77
5. TYLER WELCH #95
6. JEREMIAH MAYO #8
7. TIM KRAFT #15
8. WES CHEATHAM #4
9. TRAVIS YATES #99
10. AARON WACHHOLZ #13
11. MIKE MAKUS #85
12. JESSIE SWAIN #74
13. DUSTIN TERRY #3
14. DYLAN ANDERSON #17
15. JUDE GASPARD #70
DNS JIMMY KERR #71
2021 F1 Top Three Season Points after 3 Events
1. #10 Terry Rinker – 743 points
2. #9 Johnny Fleming – 716 points
3. #24 Spencer Love – 698 points
Lake Race Final Results for Tri Hull:
1. WHITTNEY TERRY FLETCHER #9
2. GRANT SCHUBERT #13
3. DEVYN BROWN #99
4. JOHN OTTINGER #33
5. JOSH WELLS #88
6. NOAH PERWIN #6
7. JERRY RINKER #52
8. DARREN WARE #54
9. WYATT ZOELLER #17
2021 Tri Hull Top Three Season Points Leaders
1. #13 Grant Schubert – 568
2. #9 Whittney Terry Fletcher – 567
3. #99 Devyn Brown – 516