Sunday’s Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seattle Seafair got off to a dramatic start and when the roostertails settled on Lake Washington five hours later, the drama concluded with a finish that sent H1 Unlimited race officials to the video review booth.
Graham Trucking driver J. Michael Kelly looked good in Seattle winning the Albert Lee Appliance Cup victory. Photo by F. Peirce Williams
J. Michael Kelly led all five laps of the final heat in the Graham Trucking boat with Jon Zimmerman second in the Les Schwab Tires/TeamRedDot hydroplane and Jimmy Shane third in the Oh Boy! Oberto boat, despite finishing with a broken front wing.
Then word spread of a possible one-minute penalty on Kelly for encroaching on Shane’s lane—a penalty that would have cost Kelly the victory. But after further review Kelly was ruled to have had a legal overlap on Shane at the point of the possible call and the driver from Bonney Lake, Wash., and the Graham Trucking team hoisted the Seafair trophy.
In an H1 press release, Kelly said he had a problem with his front wing and was trying to keep the boat on the water while running a wide racecourse in an attempt to keep Shane and Zimmerman behind him.
“I knew I had to have the inside and make a good start,” Kelly said. “After that I just did what I had to do to win the race. When you’re out front you make your boat as wide as possible—that’s boat racing.”
Both Shane and Zimmerman commented on the wide path taken by Kelly, which worked to Zimmerman’s advantage. With the leaders running outside, Zimmerman was able to move up the inside to overtake Shane.
When Kelly and Shane met at the awards stage, Shane extended his hand and said one word, “Congratulations.”
The initial running of Heat 2A, the first race on Sunday, lasted only a quarter of a lap. Kip Brown in the Spirit of Qatar boat got caught between roostertails in the first turn and rode the skidfin wake of Zimmerman’s boat up and over. An uninjured Brown freed himself from the overturned boat. The hull was not damaged but crew chief Mike Hanson said the team would have to build some parts before the next month’s race. The rerun was a deck-to-deck battle between Zimmerman and Kelly, with Kelly taking the win by inches at the finish.
Heat 2B was all Shane as he drove his boat away from Cal Phipps in the U-7 Graham Trucking boat. Phipps finished second with Greg Hopp third in the Miss DiJulio hydroplane.
Tom Thompson needed a strong finish in Heat 3A in the West Coast Collision Center/Peters & May boat to put his team in the final and Thompson delivered. In the middle of the field at the start, Thompson timed his start perfectly and was the leader out of the first turn. Zimmerman got around everyone to take the win with Thompson second and Phipps third.
Shane and Kelly went into Heat 3B with spots in the final virtually assured but still waged a spirited battle for the inside lane. Shane won that contest and the heat with Kelly right behind him. That set up the final where Kelly, Shane and Zimmerman battled to get on the podium. Jeff Bernard finished fourth in the Fox Plumbing & Heating hydroplane and Phipps came in fifth ahead of the other final entrants—Thompson and Mike Webster the in Boitano Tools present Performance Tool boat.
The next stop on the H1 tour will be San Diego Bayfair on Mission Bay in Southern California (Sept. 12 -14).
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