Photos: Paul Kemiel Photographics
Reigning SST 120 World Champion Chris Fairchild won the 2012 SST 200 UIM/APBA World Championship Sunday, July 22. The championship consists of four heats of racing at the PNC Trenton Roar on the River outboard tunnel boat race, an annual event that takes place on the Detroit River in Trenton, Michigan.
Chris earned a pole position by winning the one lap time trials on Saturday. His two heat race wins on Saturday and a second place finish behind Dan Orchard in Heat three on Sunday provided him enough points to clinch the championship. Dan, Donny Lick, Mark Proffitt and Jimmie Merleau rounded out 2-5 in overall championship points. All were powered by Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST race outboards.
Seven out of 10 competitors relied on OptiMax power. This was the largest gathering to date of low-emissions, 2-stroke Mercury outboards in a U.S. tunnel boat competition.
The event title was updated from SST 120 to SST 200 World Championship this year. Formula 2 competitors running the traditional Mercury SST 120 race outboard voted to separate the scoring of SST 120 and OptiMax 200XS SST powered boats for all 2012 American Power Boat Association (APBA) sanctioned events. The change makes SST 120s legal to run in SST 200 events; but an OptiMax 200XS SST is not legal and thus points are not accumulated in SST 120 competition.
The Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) would have nothing to do with the battle between the original SST 120 class and the new SST 200 class featuring Mercury’s low-emissions OptiMax technology, especially since the SST 120 is still winning races. They gave an ultimatum stating “There will be only one world championship.” Trenton race organizers decided to go with SST 200 – acknowledging OptiMax as the preferred power for Formula 2 outboard tunnel boat competition.
The win was particularly sweet for Chris as Sunday was his daughter Kelly’s eighth birthday. Chris told me he has to give Kelly credit for the win. You see, she was the one responsible for Chris defending his championship.
“As soon as I saw the race was scheduled on top of Kelly’s birthday, I knew it was an issue and I had better ask her if I could go. If she said no, so be it. Races come and go – Eighth birthdays are a one time thing,” said Chris. “They sang happy birthday to her at the driver’s meeting and served cake and ice cream. it was great. My 2nd consecutive world championship is my birthday present to her,” Chris said.
“Thank you Mercury Racing and all of their employees for creating the most maintenance free, amazing race thoroughbred I have had the pleasure to win with,” said Chris as we concluded our phone conversation regarding the event. I say, “Thank you, Chris, for helping OptiMax look good.”