It was a wild finish on the water as Jimmy Shane brought the Oberto from behind to take the lead from J Michael Kelly in the Graham Trucking on the last turn of the last lap of the championship final on Lake Washington.
Then before the H1 Unlimited Hydroplanes even returned to the pits, the officials assessed a one-minute encroachment penalty on the Oberto for a collision on lap four of turn one making Kelly a back-to-back winner of the Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seafair.
“It was just an amazing race,” said Kelly. “We were next to each other for all five laps. But I had already lost my stabilizer and when we collided it scrubbed even more speed off the boat.”
It might have been one of the best championship final heats in the history of the sport.
From the start, the two boats were deck-to-deck for all five laps. Kelly took the lead on lap one from the lane two position immediately as both boats timed the start perfectly. Shane stayed right with him from lane three, and the battle was just beginning. Kelly led the entire heat lead until the final turn of the final lap when Shane pulled ahead,
But with both boats just inches apart on lap four going into turn one, Shane collided with Kelly and a one-minute penalty for encroachment was assessed on Shane. This collision was the penalty that put Kelly back into first place.
Shane was on the outside and veered ever so slightly into Kelly but with the boats at racing speed, Kelly called the collision "violent" causing the Graham Trucking to lose even more speed.
“It was unfortunate that there was a penalty in the last heat because I wasn’t going to give up, and Jimmy wasn’t going to give up, “said Kelly. “I am proud of how Jimmy ran the race and I am very proud of how the Graham Trucking worked through the weekend to get us the championship.”
Jean Theoret in the Ellstrom Elam Plus looked like he was going to be the driver to beat early on. For the second week in a row, he led the fleet with the fastest qualifying speed on Friday with an average of 150.583 mph, and for the second week in a row he came up short. Kelly, on the other hand, had the sixth fastest time with a 145.826 mph average.
Theoret eventually placed second this week to Kelly. Scott Liddycoat in the LesSchwab/RedDOT took third. For Kelly, this was his fifth H1 Unlimited Hydroplane career win. Shane was placed in sixth spot.
The H1 Unlimited Hydroplane fleet now has three weeks off before the next the UAW-GM presents the Spirit of Detroit Hydrofest on the Detroit River, August 22-23.
Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seafair Final Results
1--J. Michael Kelly, Graham Trucking I
2--Jean Theoret, Ellstrom Elam Plus
3--Scott Liddycoat, Les Schwab / Red Dot
4--Jimmy King, Home Street Bank
5--Cal Phipps, Dalton Industries
6--Jimmy Shane, Oberto
7--Jesse Robertson Graham Trucking II