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    2017 Seattle Seafair
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    Andrew Tate, who won at Seafair as a rookie last year, seeks an encore Sunday

    Before Andrew Tate became the first rookie to win at Seafair in 60 years, the U-9 Les Schwab Tires boat wasn’t on the radar of the vast majority of unlimited-hydroplane fans.
    By Nathan Joyce

    Seafair was a coming-out party last year for the U-9 Les Schwab Tires and its rookie driver, Andrew Tate.
    Before Tate became the first rookie to win at Seafair in 60 years, the white boat wasn’t on the radar of the vast majority of unlimited-hydroplane fans.

    “I think we surprised the entire boat-racing world with that one,” Tate said while preparing to repeat as champion of the Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seafair.

    But it was the culmination of more than five years of work by boat owners Mike and Lori Jones to get their boat from also-ran to contender.

    Let’s start with Tate. Jones jokes that he is the result of his team’s recruitment program. Jones and crew chief Jeff Campbell noticed Tate after a strong performance at an outboard national championship three years ago in Moses Lake.

    “You’re always looking for a kid in outboards and inboards that you can just see has that extra talent,” said Jones, comparing it to scouting in football or baseball.
    Boat racing being a tight community, Jones and Campbell were already familiar with the Tate family. Andrew’s father, Mark Tate, was a decorated unlimited-hydroplane driver in the 1990s.

    Tate began his apprenticeship with the team shortly after, showing up at the season-ending Bayfair race in San Diego. The next season, he got some laps in the boat during preseason testing in the Tri-Cities. Last year, the job was his.

    It was a slow start. In the season opener in Madison, Ind., Tate was the “trailer” boat, which means he had to start outside and behind the fleet in the final as a sort of rookie initiation. The next race, in the Tri-Cities, a broken propeller kept Tate in the pits.

    But Jones knew the boat would be competitive.

    Seafair was the next week. That’s when Tate slipped inside Jimmy Shane, took the advantageous inside lane and flew to the title, the first for a rookie since Jim Ranger in the My Gypsy in 1956.

    He’s followed that up with a second-place finish in San Diego last year and a win in Madison this year in a two-boat shootout against Shane, the four-time defending national champion who drives the U-1 HomeStreet Bank. Last week, in the Tri-Cities, he was the top qualifier and won three heats before taking fourth in the final.
    “He’s very good,” Jones said. “He’s very good. He’s just a nice young man.”

    If you talk to most drivers walking around Stan Sayres Pits, they have a similar story. Grew up in a family of boat racers, started young and raced in all sorts of boat classes. That’s only half of Tate’s story.
    He started boat racing at 11, as he and his younger brother, Brent, got started at the same time. While spring and summer were spent boat racing, fall and winter were spent playing hockey. The Detroit area, where Tate grew up, is a hotbed of hockey talent, including the Tates.

    Andrew, 27, played forward and was good enough to play NCAA Division III hockey at Curry College outside of Boston for a year. His brother was a bit better, dropped boat racing and played Division I hockey at Bowling Green and played beyond college before hanging it up recently.
    “I think we had a mutual agreement between me and the sport. It kind of passed me by,” Tate said of his hockey days. “I was spending my summers playing with boats instead of training like I should have.”
    Mark Tate said Brent was actually a better driver in the early days. Andrew, a fourth-generation boat racer, stuck with racing and became one of the top drivers in the Midwest, competing in the Grand Prix class.
    And now he’s one of the top drivers on the unlimited-hydroplane circuit. But it takes more than a driver to win. The boat also needs plenty of speed.
    That’s where Jones’ several-year campaign comes in.
    He’d been after the Campbell brothers for years to join his team. The Campbell brothers were key members of the Miss Budweiser team, which was one of the most dominant in the history of the sport before it disbanded in 2004.

    Finally, he got them to agree to join the team for one race. That was five years ago. Now, Jeff is the crew chief and Mike does the props, wings and deck. Throw in a couple of other former Miss Bud guys on the crew, and they’ve turned the team around.
    The Les Schwab Tires team, which is based in Enumclaw, likes to point out that it has the youngest driver and the oldest boat on the circuit, and that’s true. Sort of.
    Jones, a veteran boat racer himself, points out that the only original part of the boat are the sponsons. The boat, which was built in 1992, has been rebuilt several times.
    “I know they’ve been working their butts off every year to make that boat what it is now,” Shane said. “… We wanted that competition on the water, and we got it with the U-9.”
    Saturday, Tate picked up a victory in Heat 1B after Shane was given a penalty for going under 80 mph in the prerace milling period. He was second to Shane in Heat 2B.
    And Sunday, he’ll be going for his second win at Seafair, something his dad never did once.

    But you won’t hear any trash talking from Tate to his old man.
    “Andrew is a very, very humble person,” Mark Tate said. “I think I have as much respect for him as he does for me.”
    There’s plenty to respect. Both drivers won the unlimited hydroplane rookie of the year awards. Mark is one of seven drivers to win four National High Points Championships. Andrew is contending for his first, though he’ll have to beat Shane and J. Michael Kelly in the U-12 Graham Trucking.
    “He’s got a lot to learn and it shows at times,” Mark said. “The more seat time he gets, the more he’ll become a complete driver.”


    http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/o...encore-sunday/
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    Shane rides Tate’s miscue to fiercely fought Seattle win
    David Campbell, Courier Sportswriter

    It ended up being all for naught, but Sunday’s Final Heat the Albert Lee Cup in Seattle was one of the most exciting the sport has seen in many years.

    Jimmy Shane piloted the U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank/Miss Madison to victory, but not before finishing second physically on the water after defending race champion Andrew Tate and the U-9 Les Schwab Tires completed a furious comeback on the final lap to cross the line first by half a boat-length.

    But Tate’s victory was already over before it began. A pre-race penalty for dislodging a buoy netted Tate a one-minute penalty and relegated him to seventh place while Shane was awarded the win.

    “This is incredible. Obviously this is not the way I wanted to be up here,” said Shane, who won at Seattle for the first time since 2013. “Winning Seafair in front of the world’s greatest fans is an amazing feeling. Today’s victory puts us in a strong position. Next step: Detroit.”

    Shane almost didn’t need Tate’s penalty to pull off the win. Starting from lane two with Brian Perkins and the U-21 Albert Lee Appliance on his inside, Shane led the field through the first turn and quickly began pulling away.

    Over the next three laps, Shane extended his lead to leave the field behind and by the third lap only one driver had a chance to catch him, and catch him he did.

    Tate, starting from lane three, had kept Shane within striking distance while waiting for his chance to pounce. He finally got that opportunity on the second turn of the fourth lap when Shane hit a patch of rough water, caught some air, and came down hard.

    Shane’s brief flight scrubbed off enough speed to allow Tate to make up the necessary ground and by the start of the fifth and final lap, the two were racing deck-to-deck and by the time they reached the backstretch Tate was in the lead.

    Shane wasn’t finished and drew even with Tate as the two boats exited the final turn, but Tate mashed the throttle and again pulled away, crossing the finish line some 10 feet ahead of Shane.

    “The start was great. We were right on our timing marks, right where we wanted to be,” Shane, who posted a winning speed of 138.482 mph, said. “I had a good head of steam 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 a hell of a final heat.”

    As it turned out, none of that mattered. Nearly two minutes before the start of the heat, Tate dislodged a course buoy while making a cut through the infield. A penalty was called on the infraction immediately and nearly as quickly, Tate’s Jones Racing team filed an appeal.

    Knowing that penalties don’t always stick in boat racing, neither Tate nor Shane took anything for granted and raced until the end. While Tate and his team celebrated the win on the docks, talk was already under way on the appeal. Eventually, word began to circulate from other teams that Tate’s penalty would indeed stand but it wasn’t until Shane was later awarded the first-place trophy that his win was made official. H1 announced the decision after the awards ceremony.

    “This had to be one of the most exciting races people have ever seen here,” said Shane. “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 Bank boat ran great. We’ll take the win and the 400 points.”

    Tate’s lap speed of 144.274 mph on the final lap was nearly 4 mph faster than Shane’s 140.411. It was also the fastest lap of the race weekend.

    J. Michael Kelly officially finished second aboard the U-12 Graham Trucking. Kelly, who won last week’s race at Tri-Cities from lane four, had won two of his three preliminary heats from lane three. But he couldn’t repeat his magic from last week after again starting the final in lane four.

    “The crew worked days and nights on this thing and have never stopped giving me a boat to go out and race,” said Kelly. “We’ve been trying to win from outside and today it didn’t work but we sure gave them a run for it. Next time, we might try to move in a few lanes.”

    Brian Perkins placed third, an impressive finish for a team that wasn’t even sure if it could make the race. A broken propeller last week caused massive damage to the underside of the boat, but the team spent the week making repairs to have the boat in the Seattle pits for qualifying on Friday.

    “Thank you to the team for putting the boat back together. This is your trophy,” said an emotional Perkins. “I’m speechless. We wanted to come here and qualify, that was it. That was our goal, to qualify our boat and we’re up here with a third-place trophy.”

    Tom Thompson was fourth in the U-11 J&D’s, J.W. Myers placed fifth in the U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto, Greg Hopp was sixth in the U-99.9 Miss Rock and Tate placed seventh.

    Kelly won all three of his preliminary heats while Shane claimed two wins and Tate one. Tate’s lone victory came, ironically, thanks to a penalty on Shane when the HomeStreet driver was assessed a one-minute infraction for dropping below the 80 mph minimum speed twice before the start of Heat 1B.

    The victory was the 15th of Shane’s career, moving him into historic company. He is now tied with legendary Miss Pepsi and Tahoe Miss driver Chuck Thompson for 10th on career wins list and is just three wins shy of former Miss Madison pilot Steve David, who sits in sixth.

    The win was also the 29th for Miss Madison Racing Inc., allowing the team to move into a second-place tie with the great Bill Muncey for most wins by an owner. Former Miss Budweiser owner Bernie Little owns the all-time mark with an astonishing 134 wins.

    The H1 Unlimited fleet now returns east for the running of two races at Detroit later this month. On Saturday, Aug. 26, the site will play host to the President’s Cup with the traditional APBA Gold Cup being contested the following day. Both event are full H1 Unlimited points races.

    Shane carries a narrow nine-point lead over Kelly in the National High Points standings into the Detroit doubleheader. Tate is currently third just 354 points back.

    ———

    H1 Unlimited Series

    ALBERT LEE CUP

    Lake Washington

    Seattle, Washington

    Length: 2 miles

    Results

    FINAL HEAT

    Sunday, Aug. 6

    1. Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank/Miss Madison, 138.482; 2. J. Michael Kelly, U-12 Graham Trucking, 131.088; 3. Brian Perkins, U-21 Albert Lee Appliance, 127.884; 4. Tom Thompson, U-11 J&D’s, 123.809; 5. J.W. Myers, U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto, 121.680; 6. Greg Hopp, U-99.9 Miss Rock, 114.542; 7. Andrew Tate, U-9 Les Schwab Tires, 112.755*.

    *-penalized one minute for dislodging a buoy.

    Fast Lap: Tate, U-9, No. 5, 144.274.

    ———

    PRELIMINARY HEATS

    Saturday, Aug. 5

    HEAT 1A

    1. J. Michael Kelly, U-12 Graham Trucking, 137.853; 2. Tom Thompson, U-11 J&D’s, 137.552; 3. Brian Perkins, U-21 Albert Lee Appliance, 122.966; 4. Dustin Echols, U-440 Snuskitush Enterprises, 93.998.

    Fast Lap: Thompson, U-11, No. 3, 141.576.

    HEAT 1B

    1. Andrew Tate, U-9 Les Schwab Tires, 132.258; 2. Greg Hopp, U-99.9 Miss Rock, 122.901; 3. J.W. Myers, U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto, 117.688; 4. Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank, 98.906*.

    *-penalized one minute for breaking 80 mph rule.

    Fast Lap: Shane, U-1, No. 2, 138.224.

    HEAT 2A

    1. J. Michael Kelly, U-12 Graham Trucking, 136.656; 2. J.W. Myers, U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto, 130.783; 3. Brian Perkins, U-21 Albert Lee Appliance, 129.900; 4. Greg Hopp, U-99.9 Miss Rock, 113.678.

    Fast Lap: Kelly, U-12, No. 2, 140.113.

    HEAT 2B

    1. Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank, 137.840; 2. Andrew Tate, U-9 Les Schwab Tires, 133.135; 3. Tom Thompson, U-11 J&D’s, 131.092; 4. Dustin Echols, U-440 Snuskitush Enterprises, 89.746.

    Fast Lap: Shane, U-1, No. 1, 140.496.

    ———

    Sunday, Aug. 6

    HEAT 3A

    1. Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank, 136.845; 2. Brian Perkins, U-21 Albert Lee Appliance, 126.413; 3. Greg Hopp, U-99.9 Miss Rock, 122.433; 4. Tom Thompson, U-11 J&D’s, 95.793*.

    *-penalized one minute for jumping the gun.

    Fast Lap: Shane, U-1, No. 1, 139.394.

    HEAT 3B

    1. J. Michael Kelly, U-12 Graham Trucking, 135.057; 2. Andrew Tate, U-9 Les Schwab Tires, 130.672; 3. J.W. Myers, U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto, 129.004; 4. Dustin Echols, U-440 Snuskitush Enterprises, 102.913.

    Fast Lap: Tate, U-9, No. 2, 138.142.

    ———

    CURRENT POINTS STANDINGS

    (After 2 of 5 races)

    1. Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank/Miss Madison, 3,274; 2. J. Michael Kelly, U-5 Graham Trucking, 3,265; 3. Andrew Tate, U-9 Les Schwab Tires, 2,920; 4. Tom Thompson, U-11 J&D’s, 2,113; 5. Greg Hopp, U-99.9 Miss Rock, 1,684; 6. Jimmy King, U-3 Grigg’s Ace Hardware, 1,435; 7. Brian Perkins, U-21 Go Fast Turn Left Racing, 975; 8. J.W. Myers, U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto, 937; 9. Dustin Echols, U-440 Bucket List Racing, 507.


    http://madisoncourier.com/Content/Sp...t=1#noredirect
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    U-9 to forego further appeals on Seattle penalty
    David Campbell, Courier Sportswriter

    Controversy marred the end of yet another H1 Unlimited race on Sunday, but the driver at the center of the storm is taking full responsibility.

    Andrew Tate came roaring back on the final lap to nip Jimmy Shane at the finish and win the Albert Lee Cup in Seattle. But the win didn’t last long. After nearly 30 minutes of deliberation, Tate was assessed a one-minute penalty for dislodging a buoy before the start of the race in his U-9 Les Schwab Tires.

    Based on the H1 Unlimited rulebook the penalty was automatic. As Tate was cutting through the middle of the course in an attempt to grab lane one, he apparently hit a rough patch of water and his boat jerked violently to the left. Before he could recover, he hit a course buoy dead on, sending the orange tetrahedron nearly 10 feet into the air.

    H1 officials called the infraction nearly immediately, but Tate’s Jones Racing team filed an immediate appeal saying that J.W. Myers in the nearby U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto had not given their boat enough room. But a video review after the race proved otherwise and the penalty was upheld.

    “We ran the video and it was clear he hit the buoy,” H1 Unlimited chief referee Rick Sandstorm told the Seattle Times. “The contention was that a boat on the outside forced him into it. That wasn’t the case and that was again proven by the video.”

    Tate agreed, calling it “driver error.” And while his team struck a conciliatory tone on Monday, they couldn’t help but get in a final dig on the H1 officials.

    “Out of respect for the fans and the sport, the U-9 race team will not be seeking any further actions concerning the call,” the team said in a statement. “Although we do not agree with the timing of the call, we will accept the penalty, its consequences and damage that was incurred, and move on. We hope the fans enjoyed one of the best race’s [sic] in the history of the sport, and join us in knowing who the real winner was.”

    Despite the penalty, Tate’s charge to the front on the final lap will be talked about for ages. With a lap and a half to go, he trailed Shane by nearly half a roostertail and the race appeared to be all but over.

    But Shane hit rough water in the second turn of the fourth lap and his U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank/Miss Madison went briefly into the air. The boat settled back down, but Shane had scrubbed off enough speed to allow Tate to pull even.

    “On the fourth lap, I hit some of the roughest water I’ve ever raced on,” Shane told the Times. “The whole boat went up about 5 feet in the air, completely level. And Andrew gained about three or four boat lengths just in that one hop.”

    Tate then floored the throttle on the final lap and his 144-plus mph lap was the fastest of the weekend and nearly 4 mph quicker than Shane.

    “As the race progressed I think the boat setup and speed really started to show,” Tate told the Times. “The water got really lumpy and (Shane) started to get a little out of shape and lose some boat speed here and there. We were able to keep the throttle into it and chase him down a bit.”

    Shane’s win means that there have been three different winners in three races so far this season. Tate won the non-points race at Madison to open the season and J. Michael Kelly claimed victory at the Tri-Cities, Washington, a week and a half ago. Shane holds a slim nine-point lead over Kelly in the National High Points race.

    The next races on the schedule will be the doubleheader at Detroit on Aug. 25-26. Two separate points races will be contested at the site on back-to-back days with the President’s Cup being run on Saturday and the traditional APBA Gold Cup on Sunday.


    http://madisoncourier.com/Content/Sp...t=1#noredirect
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