Mercury Racing says it best: The Race Never Stops, and for me, that has never been more true. What a job performed by Tim Seebold.
The promoter, my great friend Tim Seebold, has invited me to come over and watch an F1 race in the US for as long as I can remember. At the top of my bucket list was always the Havasu Classic. A lot has to do with the fact that German F1 super veteran Michael Werner, while working for me, always told me crazy stories of the races in America. Havasu was always one of his favorite stories to tell, where he raced against all the great names in powerboating.
I wasn’t going to race, but my plan was to meet my childhood hero, Billy Seebold, also known as Mr. Bill – the Greatest of All Time, in my opinion. I was super excited. 27 hours after I left Norway, I finally pulled into Lake Havasu City. It was 1 in the morning. The only problem was that back home it was 10 in the morning, so trying to catch some sleep was a failed project. By 3:30 am, I was wide awake. The race day couldn’t start fast enough.
After cruising the streets of Lake Havasu, I finally crossed the London Bridge and made my way to the pits, even though it was 5 in the morning.
I have been to events all over the world, on every continent, mostly with the UIMF1h2o tour. The events are huge, but they’re standardized and every team has the same setup. Team Abu Dhabi might have a slightly wider tent, but other than that, it’s super cool and equal.
Back home, everyone always told me that everything is bigger in America, and compared to Norway, it definitely was. Flying into Las Vegas, jumping into a rental car in the middle of the night, and starting by driving across the famous strip made me feel a long way from home. Halfway through, I had to stop because the railway crossed the highway. If I told you how long we waited, you wouldn’t believe me anyway, so let’s just say, YES, everything is big! The next thing that was going to impress me was the setups that the teams had over here. Not a single team had a Mercedes Sprinter and a closed box trailer. Well, my buddy RJ West had a box trailer, and probably the smallest team setup, but he could still drive his 4×4 wheeler and the race trailer into it. The rest of the teams had super cool trucks and trailers that would block every race venue in Europe. One of the biggest team, Phase Three Performance, had two drivers in the top, Terry Rinker and Jeremiah Mayo, running Hoffman boats. Rick Hoffman had produced six of the 15-boat field.
At the break of dawn, the pit came to life, and as I walked around, I met a lot of friends that I had only talked to via social media. It was great to finally shake hands and exchange a few hugs.
There were three classes racing: Texas Tri Hulls – monohulls with 115s; Formula Light, or SST 45, which compares to our F4 class; and Formula One.
The location of the Havasu Classic at the Nautic Inn was perfect. You could sit in the pool or hang out at the bar and enjoy the event. When the boats were launched, I moved over to enjoy the testing, qualifying, and races.
As I walked in, Kay Dub and Thomas welcomed everyone to the event, and as soon as the OOD dropped the flag and the first V6 Mercury engine fired up, a well-known face jumped up with a spring in his step. The average spectator might think it was an excited first-time attendee to a race, but I had just witnessed the soon-to-be 82-year-old Mr. Bill Seebold jump up and rush over to the fence. He was not going to miss a lap.. The Race Never Stops..
The racing was fantastic. I would say that the top 10 drivers would have a great shot in Europe racing F2, and of course, a few of them would do very well in UIMF1.
As the session was over, I walked up to Mr. Bill, and the 27 hours of travel were all worth it. He told me that the first race in Havasu had 105 events back in 1969. As the day unfolded, a number of powerboat fans from all over the world showed up. When I was growing up, I watched two sports: powerboats and road racing. I was surprised when I bumped into Dave Bush, whom I had visited here some 20 years ago. He was helping RJ West and came with his friend. I was starstruck when I realized that his friend, Eddie was the great road racing champion, Eddie Lawson. Two heroes in one trip. Eddie Lawson retired at the end of the 1992 500cc Grand Prix season, leaving his mark with four World 500cc Championship titles.
Due to the weather forecast on Sunday, all the racing had to be done on Saturday. The officials did a fantastic job, and they even finished early.
As I left Lake Havasu, I carried with me a full bag of energy and memories that I will cherish for life.
Thank you, Tim, for the invite. I’ll be back.