OptiMax Powers Kris Shepard to Bay City F2 Victory

Photo Credits: Paul Kemiel Photographics

Kris Shephard’s boat suffered a gaping hole in the starboard sponson after colliding with Jeff Reno in turn one. A roll of duct tape and two restarts later, Kris captured the F2 checkered flag.

Kris Shepard of Antioch, Illinois, driving his Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard Hoffchild hull, won the 30-lap Dow Bay City River Roar Formula 2 race Sunday, June 26.  The race was round two of the 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour tunnel boat racing series. See my blog, Shaun Torrente Wins Bay City River Roar for coverage on the Formula 1 race.

Kris started from the pole in a rough race.  He and Jeff Reno collided going into in turn one. Neither flipped – but the incident created a gaping three foot hole on the starboard sponson of Kris’s boat.

Kris Shepard takes a victory lap in his Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard powered Hoffchild hull.

“It was filling up with water in the turns,” said Kris. As luck would have it, the race was stopped shortly after when another competitor flipped. Chris Fairchild and 20 fellow racers and crew members worked feverishly in the pits – cover the hole with duct tape and whatever else they could find. Kris said he would have never been able to finish the race – let alone win – without their help. 

Dan Orchard overcame all obsticles for an impressive third place podium finish in his OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard powered Pugh hull.

Another story is that of  Dan Orchard. Dan and fellow OptiMax F2 competitor Jimmie Merleau crashed at the May 1, 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P Tour season opener in Port Neches, Texas. Dan was still putting his boat together last week when Chris Fairchild received his panic phone call. “The trim pump doesn’t work. Can’t get the engine to fire. This doesn’t work and that doesn’t work.” Chris advised Dan to stop working on it at home and bring the rig to Bay City. He did. Chris, Dan and crew worked until the 3:00 a.m. Saturday to get the boat back to running condition.

One potential obstacle was engine related. Two of the six fuel injectors were not working – after being submerged in saltwater for some time after the Port Neches accident. Chris didn’t have any spares. No one did. Chris told Dan, “before being a technician you have to be a mechanic and when resources are limited you do what you gotta do.”  They struck the injectors with a hammer and – like magic – they worked!

Formula 2 podium finishers, (L-R): Jeff Reno, Kris Shepard and Dan Orchard.

Dan lost ground through qualify on Saturday, spending more time on the trailer then on the water. But come race day he made the start dock – dead last. But through focus and determination – he worked his way through the 10 boat field to finish an impressive third overall – Making it a 1st & 3rd podium weekend for OptiMax.

Visit the 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour website for complete results.

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