Orange 2018

NGK F1 PBC Orange Texas Final Post Race Report

2018 NGK F1PC Finals, Showdown on the Sabine, Orange, Texas

The NGK Spark Plugs Formula 1 Powerboat Championship Series brought 47 of the world’s most exhilarating race boats to Orange, Texas for the 11th Annual “Showdown on the Sabine” hosted by the Orange Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Racers from all corners of the country gathered at the City of Orange Boat Ramp to see not only who would win the final race of the season on the circuit’s sub 30-second 1 mile short course, but also to see who would be crowned the 2018 Champion in the four racing classes of the series; F1, F-Lights, Tri-Hull and J Hydro.
#20 Ashton Rinker, running for “Rinker’s Boat World”, whose feet have graced the podium at every race this season, did well enough in the F1 heat races to start in the 5th position in the Final, and stealthily ran down all of his challengers to take his second victory of the 2018 season.
Rinker, who hails from Riverview, Florida, is the son of 2017 NGK F1 champion, Terry Rinker, who surprised everyone at Orange by coming out of retirement to race once more with his son. Ashton Rinker has been leading the NGK F1 series points chase since midseason and was happy to loan his back-up boat to his father for one more go.
All Ashton Rinker needed to solidify the 2018 Championship was to line up for the Final and win at least one heat, which he did on Saturday. Rinker explained, “That made Sunday a lot smoother for us. And that’s when I made the decision to tell my dad, “Hey, get in the back-up boat and run the 3rd heat and the Final with me.’”
In such a position, some racers may take a more conservative approach with the knowledge the Championship is in the bag, but Ashton Rinker wanted to end the season in a blaze of glory. “I kinda went to [crew chief] James Chambers and told him, “Set the motor up for us to win, because we drove all the way here, we we’re finishing this season with a win.’”
When the starter’s flag dropped, pole sitter #03 Dustin Terry took the lead with #2 Hawkins and #4 Cheatham close behind. In 4th place was #62 Chris Fairchild running for the McCollough Racing Team. But Fairchild could not hold off #20 Ashton Rinker, who got around the #62 and sent him back to 5th.
As Rinker began to chase down the three boats still in front of him, #99 Travis Yates – who was a hot contender for the 2018 Rookie Of the Year title just 6 points ahead of Rookie #55 John Edde coming into the Final – went dead on the course, resulting in the first restart of the Final.
The restart was fortunate for Rinker, as now the top three boats were within striking distance. Rinker’s first pass was around #4 Wesley Cheatham in his “Trinity Excavators” Hoffman hull, with the #4 putting up an impressive battle to hold off Rinker. A few laps later, Rinker ducked inside to shoot past the second-place boat, #2 Tracy “T-Hawk” Hawkins and his “Tuttle Enterprises” purple and yellow Seebold. Staying on his mission, Rinker then used a similar move to pass the race leader, the McCollough Team’s #03 Dustin “The Dusman” Terry.
But soon afterward, the race came under a second red flag, this time the cause was dislodged buoys. On the restart, #03 Dustin Terry’s boat didn’t fire off the dock, giving Rinker an easy opening to roar to the front all the way to the checkered flag.
Finishing in second behind Rinker was battle scarred #2 Tracy Hawkins. Hawkins had come to Orange sitting second in the points chase, full of hope that he could win the F1 Series Championship, something he has not been able to accomplish during his illustrious 40-year racing career. But a series of hurdles and snags gave Hawkins extra challenges, both before and after the race.
Sunday morning, Hawkins discovered a crack in his best prop. Keven McCollough from the Orange-based McCollough Racing Team, who has built a reputation of offering aid to other teams all year long, contacted a local welder friend who offered to weld Hawkins’ prop in time for the start of the race.
“I raced to McCollough’s pits and ask Keven if he knew anybody that could weld a prop. He called his buddy, Eric, who is a welder in Deweyville about 20 minutes north. I jumped in my truck and told Chief Referee, Doug Rea, that I would miss the driver’s meeting and hauled butt up to this guy’s house. He welded it up, ground it down and I jumped back into my truck. I got back to the site 20 minutes ‘til 12:00, just as they were lining up to put the boats in the water!”
But that wasn’t the only close call Hawkins would experience that day. While running in third place in the Final, Hawkins lost his rear cowling. Soon after, he was struck by another boat that bent his steering arm.
Hawkins explained, “We were coming out of the corner and Terry Rinker was right behind me. My microphone was stuck open on my radio, so the team couldn’t tell me he was there. I looked up and he was climbing on my deck to give me a kiss with his pickle fork. I can’t believe I didn’t rip a hole in his boat with my steering bar, since it bent my steering bar up.” During the restart, Hawkins’ crew was able to bend the bar back down, which gave him a chance to finish second in both the race as well as in the 2018 F1 points Championship.
Taking third place was #4 Wesley Cheatham “Trinity Excavators”, who also moved up to third in the 2018 Championship final standings, a battle that saw the four top boats stay within 15-boat lengths of each other, keeping the crowd on their feet the entire race. #53 Greg Foster “CB Technologies”, who was previously in 3rd in the points chase, had a frustrating weekend, including losing his cowling and canopy after a barrel roll on Saturday, which moved him back into 4th in points for the season.
Cheatham recounted the weekend, “All three heats were tough. Rinker, Tracy and I just battled it out in the top three spots all three heats. Three heats and three different line-ups and three different winners.”
Hawkins and Cheatham race out of the same shop in Willis, Texas, so they are essentially teammates, but on two separate teams. But the interesting question rose as to whether Cheatham would ever make a risky pass around his mentor, Hawkins. Cheatham responded with a grin, “James Fleming, crew chief for racer Johnny Fleming, asked my brother, ‘Would Wesley even try to pass Tracy?’ I would never, ever want to be in the shop where we are both doing wood work on our boats from a mistake I made. I just am not willing to live that life!”
Cheatham doesn’t have a big corporate sponsor, but races with the help of his mom and step-father, Don and Connie Tyburn of “Trinity Excavators”. He credits his family for getting him where he is. “My parents – my mom and dad, and my stepmom and stepdad. Glyn and Donna Mathews. They have all helped me tremendously.”
The 2018 F1 “Rookie of the Year” title was sealed by #55 John Edde “Renegade Products” who finished a tight, season-long battle by squeaking ahead of rookie #99 Travis Yates “JH Performance Boats”, edging him by a mere 6 points. Rinker shared his recipe for becoming a champion, “Keeping your ducks in a row is what is going to make you successful. And that’s what I did this year and that made it easy for me to get on the podium every race to win this Championship.” He added that next year’s plans include adding a new boat from overseas. Rinker gave special thanks to the “Rinker Racing” crew of James Chambers, Jamie Sullivan, Frank Force and Lori Rinker.

Formula 1 Results at Orange, TX:

  1.  #20 Ashton Rinker
  2.  #2 Tracy Hawkins
  3.  #4 Wesley Cheatham
  4.  #10 Terry Rinker
  5.  #34 Jeff Reno
  6.  #9 Johnny Fleming
  7.  #53 Greg Foster
  8.  #5 Reuben Stafford
  9.  #32 Merv Bjork
  10.  #62 Chris Fairchild
  11.  #8 Jeremiah Mayo
  12.  #03 Dustin Terry
  13.  #24 Spencer Love
  14.  #69 Jimmie Merleau
  15.  #57 David McMurray
  16.  #55 John Edde
  17.  #13 Arron Wachholtz
  18.  #17 Dylan Anderson
  19.  #15 Tim Kraft
  20.  #99 Travis Yates
  21. DNS #91 David Johnigan
The Formula Lights class points leader coming into Orange was #8 Jeremiah Mayo “JH Performance Boats”, who had a healthy 92-point lead over #40 Austin Cheatham “Clover Construction”. That lead shrunk up somewhat after Heat 1, when Cheatham finished 4th and Mayo 9th. But Mayo pulled off a win in the next two Heat races as well as the Final to take home double victories in both the event and the NGK Formula Lights Championship title for 2018.
The F-Lights Final came to a wild end, as leader #8 Mayo and #66 Steve Merleau tangled together while engaged in a fierce battle for first place, sending Merleau tumbling and bringing the race to a halt. The race was declared complete, and after penalties were assessed, the F-Lights results were:

Formula Light Results at Orange, TX:

1. #8 Jeremiah Mayo
2. #28 Andy Versace
3. #42 Hans McCauley
4. #66 Steve Merleau
5. #13 Grant Schubert
6. #01 Kelly Ireland
7. #2 Travis Thompson
8. #17 Chris Hughes
9. #40 Austin Cheatham
The Rookie of the Year title in F-Lights was a tight match, and the outcome came all the way down to the Final. #13 Grant Schubert gathered 13.5 more points than #01 Kelly Ireland, to take the 2018 Rookie of the Year honors.
Always putting on a great show, the Tri-Hull class circled the course in a thunderous fury, led by #52 Chris Rinker and followed closely by his 75-year-old father, #10 Jerry Rinker. “Scary Jerry” closed in on Chris Rinker midway through the race, but Chris Rinker was able to stave off his hard charging father and take the victory.
However, the season was still owned by “Scary Jerry”. The NGK 2018 Tri-Hull Championship Title was earned by #10 Jerry Rinker “Rinker’s Boat World”, who had a fantastic season; scoring a win at Nashville, TN and a second place at Gulfport, FL earlier in the year.
Finishing in third place was #8 Jeremiah Mayo, who had his hands more than full all weekend long, racing in three different categories for a grand total of 13 races during the “Showdown on the Sabine”.

Tri-Hull Results at Orange, TX:

1. #52 Chris Rinker
2. #10 Jerry Rinker
3. #8 Jeremiah Mayo
4. #33 John Ottinger
5. #56 Travis Yates
6. #110 Darryle Middleton
7. #54 Darren Ware
8. #2 Charlie Donaldson
9. #97 Cory Walker
10. #99 Devyn Brown
DNS #25 David Wills
J-Hydro Results at Orange, TX
1. #16 Jack Schubert
2. #1 Riley Teague
3. #3 Austin Terry
4. #5 Shane Butler
5. #4 Brayden Cheatham
Greenlight TV filmed the NGK Spark Plugs F1 Powerboat Championship racing action, producing a 30-minute show that aired on the CBS Sports Network. The racing action from Orange, TX aired on Wednesday October 3, 2018 at 9:30 PM EST and three hours later, aired again on October 4, 2018 at 12:30 AM EST. You can watch the repeats of these shows on Motor Trend On Demand for a minimal fee. Visit
The 2018 NGK Spark Plugs F1 Powerboat Championship conducted a total of six races throughout the year: Port Neches, TX; Gulfport, FL; Nashville, TN; Pittsburgh, PA; Springfield, OH; Orange, TX. 2018 Championship winners are as follows:


Driver – Boat Number – Points
1. ASHTON RINKER #20 1560.5
2. TRACY HAWKINS #2 1417
4. GREG FOSTER #53 1247
6. SPENCER LOVE #24 1077
8. DUSTIN TERRY #03 880
10. JOHN EDDE #55 758
11. TRAVIS YATES #99 752
12. FRED DURR #96 637
14. JEFF RENO #34 561
15. TIM KRAFT #15 560.5
16. RUSTY WYATT #94 491
17. AARON WACHHOLZ #13 489
18. MARK PROFFITT #27 449
19. MIKE MAKUS #85 351
20. JIMMIE MERLEAU #69 314
21. RICH YOUNG #33 261
22. TYLER WELCH #59 214.5
23. MARK WELCH #95 183
24. MERV BJORK #32 183
25. JEREMIAH MAYO #8 180
26. JIMMY KERR #14 176
28. MIKE KLEPADLO #35 166
29. TERRY RINKER #10 157
30. JIM ROBB #13 142
31. TOM LUDWIG #81 141
32. DAVID JOHNIGAN #91 138
33. STEVE MERLEAU #69 114
34. DYLAN ANDERSON #17 101
35. BILL JOULE #38 96
36. BRYAN BABINEAU #241 20



Driver – Boat Number – Points
1. JEREMIAH MAYO #8 1479
3. GRANT SCHUBERT #13 1207.5
4. KELLY IRELAND #01 1194
5. STEVE MERLEAU #66 998
7. DAN TROSEN #77 565
8. CHRIS HUGHES #17 447
9. DEBBY MOBLEY #45 442
10. ANDY VERSACE #28 438
11. JOSE MENDANA JR. #21 410
12. JACOB ALKEMA #191 366
13. RJ WEST #93 264
14. HANS MCAULEY #42 246
15. THOMAS SCHLARB #47 212
16. CARLOS MENDANA #27 198
17. LELAND BROGE #67 164
18. JASON NELSON #18 74
19. STEVE WILKES #44 23


Driver – Boat Number – Points
1. JERRY RINKER #10 1021.75
3. DARRYLE MIDDLETON #110 856.25
4. DARREN WARE #54 837.5
5. TRAVIS YATES #99 818.75
6. JOHN OTTINGER #33 793.25
7. CHRIS RINKER #52 781
8. DAVID WILLS #25 758.25
10. KLINT DILLARD #56 595
11. CORY WALKER 320.25
13. HUNTER BARBER #00 242.25
14. WAYNE BARBER #0 190.8
15. DEVYN BROWN #99 157.5


Driver – Boat Number – Points
1. JACK SCHUBERT #16 1073
2. SHANE BUTLER #5 708
4. AUSTIN TERRY #3 496
5. KOLBY CROOK #15K 495
8. RILEY TEAGUE #1 271
10. JAMES FUDGE #97 40