FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2013 - The news this early into the off-season is rather scarce as most race teams catch their breath after a long summer of racing. One thing that is obvious is that there are a lot of boats and equipment on the market this fall as many racers begin their individual plans for 2014.
Lots of SST-60 stuff has either been sold or is up for sale. Tammy Wolf's Pugh hull sits unused, Steve DiNic's Pugh has rumored to have found a new home, Chip Wavro's hulls have been sold, Toby Hood has moved his Pugh to a new owner and the list of transactions in this class continue.
Two Rinkers have their SST-120 boats up for sale. Terry Rinker's Caniff race boat and Ashton Rinker's Revolution boat are both for sale turnkey and ready to race. I haven't spoken to either driver personally but I have heard from a few people that Terry will move on from SST-120 racing and will focus on Formula 1 racing both here and overseas in 2014. Ashton Rinker has posted on an internet message board that he plans to sell his ride and move away from racing in 2014. If either of those stories are correct then the SST-120 class will be losing two of it's top performers when the spring rolls around.
With tunnel boat racing already in a fragile situation across the U.S., losing a few more boats in any class hurts. Last summer only a handful of SST-200 boats turned out to APR Superleague races to supplement the SST-120s to make up Formula 2. Rumors have it that APR may not sanction both classes in 2014 and may only feature one class or the other. Problem is there aren't enough active boats out there to fill a race field, regardless of what class or classes are offered. I'm not sure we will be able to muster 10 boats on any given weekend even with the two classes combined next year.
Whether it be SST-200, SST-120 or SST-60, I think promoters are going to be hard pressed to deliver a quality race event to host cities if something doesn't give soon. I have only been in this sport for four full seasons and I have seen the boat count drop, drop, drop and drop each of the four years. Another couple years of dropping and there won't be enough to fill the podium.
Hopefully someone surveys the drivers to find out why teams are falling by the wayside and what can be done to get those boats back on the water. Is it time for a change in the way we do things? Is it time for a new racing league or format to pop up and renew the excitement? Until someone is able to find out why boats are leaving, it won't be easy to figure out how to get them back. We need to inquire about what racers want and do our best to give it to them or our sport is going nowhere but down.