By Andrew Muntz/H1 Unlimited series
Renton’s Jimmy Shane in the U-1 Miss HomeStreet and Andrew Tate in the U-9 Les Schwab Tires battled side-by-side through the final lap of a wild Albert Lee Appliance Cup winner-take-all final heat on Lake Washington on Sunday.
Tate, the winner of last year’s H1 Unlimited hydroplane race at Seafair, managed to pass Shane on the last lap and again in the final stretch, but it turned out to be all for naught. Tate was assessed a one-minute penalty for dislodging a buoy before the start.
“This had to be one of the most exciting races people have ever seen here,” said Shane when he returned to the pits. “I don’t know how Andrew caught me that last lap and a half. I thought I had him covered. I never let off on the throttle, yet he was coming on the outside. But the Miss HomeStreet boat ran great. We’ll take the win and the 400 points.”
It was Shane’s first Seafair win since he drove the Graham Trucking in 2013. Shane, a five-time APBA national high-point champion, is an integration engineer at Blue Origin, LLC, in Kent.
As the boats scored up for the run to the starting line, Tate ran into one of the buoys on the course and was assessed the penalty as a result. Meanwhile, Brian Perkins in the U-21 Albert Lee Appliance grabbed in the inside lane heading to the start with Shane on his outside.
“The start was great,” Shane said. “We were right on our timing marks, right where we wanted to be. I didn’t see anybody on my inside except for Brian. I thought, ‘This is great. This is right where we want to be.’ I had a good head of stream heading down there. There were four boats side-by-side. We all made it through clean, I came out of the first turn in the lead, and never looked back. It was one hell of a final heat.”
Bonney Lake’s J. Michael Kelly in the U-12 Graham Trucking took second, Perkins was third, Tom Thompson in the Miss DiJulio presents J&D’s was fourth, J.W. Myers in Oh Boy! Oberto was fifth, Greg Hopp in the U-99.9 KISW Miss Rock powered by CarStar was sixth, and Tate was seventh.
Shane and Kelly came away as winners in action earlier in the day. In Heat 3A, Shane beat the field to the first turn and remained in the lead to the finish. Thompson started in the inside lane, but was penalized one minute for crossing the starting line too early. That left second-place honors to Perkins in Albert Lee and third place to Hopp in the Miss Rock.
In the second preliminary heat, Kelly took the inside lane at the start, pulled away from the others going around the first turn, and won the heat easily. Tate and Myers dueled for second place briefly at the beginning of the race, but Tate soon moved ahead and stayed there to the end. Dustin Echols finished in fourth in the 440 Bucket List Racing.
With Sunday’s results, the Graham Trucking, the Miss HomeStreet and the Les Schwab are all very close in the national points standings, with only 354 points separating them. As the boats leave Seattle, Miss HomeStreet leads the national points race with 3,274 points, Graham Trucking is second with 3,265 points, and Les Schwab has 2,920 points. In fourth place is the Miss J&D’s with 2,113 points and in fifth is the Miss Rock with 1,704 points.
The world’s fastest boats will next go to Detroit for the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Hydrofest on Aug. 25-27. The H1 Unlimited hydroplanes will compete in two races that weekend: the President’s Cup on Saturday and the APBA Gold Cup on Sunday.