The 2016 USF1 season began in June, with the legendary Tim Seebold embarking on his final season of tunnel boat racing with hopes of going out on top and retiring a champion.
Despite rolling his NGK Sparkplugs boat in the far turn with just five laps remaining in Sunday’s F1 final of the EQT Three Rivers Regatta in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Osage Beach, Missouri, Hall of Famer finished his career just as he’d hoped - on top. Seebold who was running in the second position behind Greg Foster and with Terry Rinker hot on his tail, barrel rolled his Seebold hull in turns three and four before landing upright. A dejected Seebold who thought that his championship run in his final season of his career was over, caught an enormous break when Terry Rinker was unable to get his Aeroslot hull restarted. As a result, Seebold managed to finish one position ahead of Rinker in the final in seventh while Rinker finished eighth.
Seebold winded up winning the 2016 USF1 season championship by just one point over multi-time champions, Greg Foster and Terry Rinker, who tied in the final standings. Foster will officially finish in second place after winning two races – in Bay City, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, in 2016.
“I was disappointed in the way the race ended, but if it works out that we finish on top at the end, it will be a great way to end it,” Seebold said.
Seebold and Rinker were tied atop the USF1 standings heading into Pittsburgh, with Foster just eleven points back.
Foster was leading, while Rinker was a close third at the time of the race stoppage. When the time came to line the boats up for the re-start and an anticipated shootout for the win, Rinker’s boat encountered mechanical issues, which sent him to the launch area.
Neither racer was able to get back to the dock for the final re-start, putting Foster, Terry Rinker’s son Rob, and Jimmie Merleau in the first three spots for the final run. Those top three battled it out over the final five laps, but the lineup didn’t change, as Foster plastered the field for the win.
“It was a great, close race before Timmy and Terry went out,” Foster said. “I hate to see that happen and see it end that way, but I’m really happy to get this win for my crew and everybody. This is a great venue and a great race. It’s not bad for an old guy who hasn’t raced in 13 years.”
Foster retired from tunnel boat racing over a decade ago, but came back in 2016 to race for Steve Dillard in Dillard’s DAC hull. The decision paid off.
“I don’t know if I expected this after all those years,” Foster said. Timmy’s my good friend and I hate to see it end like that for him, especially in his last season. But I’m happy we got the win.”
Seebold finished the season on top, with 394 points, just one point ahead of both Foster and Rinker, with 393 each. Jose Mendana Jr. finished just outside the top three with 356 points followed by Rob Rinker in fifth, with 350.
Mendana Jr. finished fourth in Sunday’s final, while his brother, Carlos, ended in fifth.
R.J. West won Sunday’s final in the Formula Lights class, beating out Steve Lee and Mendana Jr. Mendana Jr. ran away from the field despite two mid-race re-starts, but trim issues slowed him in the closing laps and he was passed by West and Lee.
Andy Versace, Chris Hughes and Amanda Hagerl rounded out the top six in the F Lights final.