Powerboat racing teams from across the country descended on Southeast Texas from May 4-6 to deliver action-packed races in the season opener of the 2018 NGK Spark Plugs F1 Powerboat Championship Series, coined “Thunder on the Neches.”
Series history was made on Sunday when Jeremiah Mayo, age 17, won both the Tri-Hull (No. 5) and Formula Light (No. 8) classes. Mayo became the first racer of the series to not only win two classes in one event, but also in an entire season.
Mayo’s wins were not without challenges, including a blown engine that was only remedied when No. 93 RJ West, a fellow Formula Light driver and the weekend’s runner-up, lent him a piston. “I’ve grown up around racing,” said Mayo, “It’s like a big family – everyone here helps.”
Formula One winner, No. 2 Tracy Hawkins of Tuttle Racing, described Thunder on the Neches as, “The most important race of the year… It’s like our Daytona or Indy 500.” Hawkins overcame incredible odds over the weekend to capture first place in the final heat. On Saturday, his motor didn’t start at the launch in heat 1 and then he experienced battery failure. During heat 2 his propeller broke, but Hawkins came back on Sunday, battling it out with No. 20 Ashton Rinker to clinch first place in the final heat. Rinker currently leads in the series with 270 points.
The Thunder on the Neches race will air on CBS Sports News Network on May 23, first at 7 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. ET. The airing is part of a season-long, televised coverage of the NGK Spark Plugs F1 Powerboat Championship Series. The next stop in the series will be on June 1-3 at the Gulfport Grand Prix in Gulfport, Florida.
For more information about the series, the racers and airing times, visit ngkf1.com.