Photo Credits: Paul Kemiel Photographics
The 24th annual Dow Bay City River Roar tunnel boat race, round two of the 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour, concluded Sunday, June 26. And like the past 23 years – this year didn’t disappoint. Bay City, Michigan was one of my favorite stops when I followed the series’ with our outboard race support truck back in the 1990s. The Saginaw River, contained with sea walls, is always full of surprises. I’ve witnessed more blow overs and wicked barrel rolls at this race than I care to remember. Ask any driver who has experienced it and they will tell you Bay City is one of the most challenging tunnel boat races in the world.
Weather conditions this year were near perfect. It was sunny all weekend- with temps in the mid 60s during testing on Friday, warming up to a comfortable mid 70s on Saturday for qualify and low 80s for the final races on Sunday. The winds picked up at race time, creating a rough chop against the current.
Miami, Florida native Shaun Torrente has always been an exciting driver to watch. At 32, he is a young, skillful driver who isn’t afraid to take chances. That personality trait can make the difference between winning and second place. it can also mean the difference between winning and not finishing. Shaun has matured as a driver since I last saw him race. He is now competing on the UIM F1H2O Formula 1 circuit for Peters & May Racing, with race experiences throughout Europe as well as Qatar and Portugal.
His worldly experience seems to be paying off. It was just last year in Bay City where Shaun led the entire race, only to spin out on the final lap. Chris Fairchild went on to win the race. Shaun and Chris had common goals coming into Sunday’s race. Both are hard charging – fierce competitors. The difference this year was the number of races Shaun had prior to the event. Shaun was razor sharp all weekend, capturing a pair of qualifying wins on Saturday to earn the pole position for the 50-lap F1 final on Sunday.
He repeated his razor sharp performance on Sunday. His Mercury 2.5 EFI Champ race outboard powered tunnel boat launched off the start dock – quickly accelerating into the lead with Chris Fairchild and three time River Roar champ Terry Rinker following. Mechanical gremlins forced Chris, Shaun’s only real threat, to the trailer with four laps completed. Shaun steadily built a 20-second lead over Rinker to capture the checkered flag. The race was called at 35 laps due to the extremely rough course conditions.
Terry Rinker, Brian Venton, Lynn Simburger and Jeff Shepherd rounded out 2-5. All were powered by Mercury 2.5 EFI Champ race outboards.
Be sure to check out my blog on Kris Shephard’s OptiMax Formula 2 Victory.