SEATTLE-- Penalties changed the expected outcome of heats 1A and 1B at the Albert Lee Appliance Seafair Cup on Saturday. The fastest boats in both heat sections were issued one minute penalties for dropping below 80 mph during the warm-up period. As a result, the usual leaders are down in point standings and will face an uphill battle in order to earn positions in the winner-take-all final heat on Sunday.
In heat 1A, Jimmy Shane, driver of Miss HomeStreet, physically led the heat wire-to-wire, but was tagged with a one-minute penalty which dropped him to fourth place in point standings. The heat win went to J. Michael Kelly, at the wheel of Graham Trucking. Kelly earned 400 points and averaged 144.105 mph for the three-lap heat. Next was Jimmy King in Miss DiJulio, who garnered 300 points and averaged 138.893 mph. Brian Perkins finished third in Albert Lee Appliance, earning 225 points and averaging 131.807 mph. Shane was fourth, good for 169 points. He averaged 103.783 mph. Kevin Eacrett was fifth aboard CARSTAR Miss Rock. He picked up 127 points and averaged 95.202 mph.
“I feel really good,” Kelly said. “We made sure we hit our marks and didn’t get any penalties. It’s a good way to get the weekend started.”
In heat 1B, Jean Theoret, driver of Oh Boy! Oberto, made the same mistake Shane made in 1A and received a one minute penalty. Although Theoret led the entire heat, the victory went to rookie Andrew Tate at the wheel of Sound Propeller presents Les Schwab Tires. Tate racked up 400 points and averaged 132.894 mph. Second went to Jeff Bernard driving Graham Trucking II. He received 300 points and averaged 130.994 mph. Tom Thompson, driver of Peters & May, initially was penalized for dropping below 80 mph before the start, but the penalty was later reversed because Thompson had been forced to slow down to avoid hitting another boat that cut in front of him. He finished third and received 225 points. His average speed was 115.460 mph. Theoret finished fourth, good for 169 points. He averaged 98.680 mph.
Tate’s heat win was especially rewarding for his team’s morale. The boat broke a propeller at the race in Tri-Cities, Washington, last weekend and suffered extensive damage to the bottom. “I’m super proud of the team,” Tate said. “They worked night and day to make sure we would be here. Everything went our way and we’ll take it.” It was Tate's first heat win in H1 Unlimited Hydroplane competition.
Racing on Lake Washington continues Sunday. Preliminary heat 2A is scheduled to start at 10:55 am. It will feature Miss HomeStreet, Graham Trucking II, Albert Lee Appliance, CARSTAR Miss Rock, and Sound Propeller Presents Les Schwab Tires. Tate knows he will have his work cut out for him, facing Jimmy Shane in that heat but he is philosophical. “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” he insists.
Heat 2B will go at 11:15 and will include Peters & May, Graham Trucking, Miss DiJulio, and Oh Boy! Oberto. Preliminary heat 3A will be held at 2:30, followed by heat 3B at 2:50. The winner-take-all final is scheduled for 4:45 west coast time.