In the inaugural H1 Unlimited Southern Cup in Guntersville, Ala., Andrew Tate of Walled Lake, Mich., drove the U-9 Delta/Realtrac Unlimited hydroplane to victory following a deck-to-deck battle at the conclusion of Sunday’s final heat.
Andrew Tate (foreground) drove the U-9 Delta/Realtrac boat deck-to-deck with Jimmy Shane in the U-1 Miss HomeStreet boat on the last lap of the H1 Unlimited season opener in Lake Guntersville, Ala. Photo by Chris Denslow.
The five-lap race on the 2 1/2-mile course turned into a two-boat duel between Tate and five-time defending H1 Unlimited high points champion Jimmy Shane in the U-1 Miss HomeStreet hydroplane. Early in the race, Tate jumped out to a half of a roostertail lead but on the fourth lap, he hit some rough water.
“The boat didn’t want to settle in and it actually started to get away from me,” said Tate, who is just two years older than the U-9 Delta/Realtrac boat, which at 26 years old became the oldest race hull ever to win an H1 Unlimited hydroplane event. The hull first ran in 1992 as the Coors Dry boat. “I knew Shane was coming so the gloves came off, so to speak, and I worked the front wing. My canard was my best friend.”
While Tate was exiting the last turn, Shane pulled up alongside him to make one last effort to get to the finish line first. The two were deck-to-deck to the end with Tate narrowly beating Shane by one boat length.
“This is one race I will never forget—that was one hell of a final,” said Tate, who averaged 152.000 mph with his fastest lap at 156.092 mph (Shane averaged 151.960 mph and tied Tate’s 156.092-mph lap on the last one). “I think that was the best boat race I have ever been in.”
Tate’s crew chief, Jeff Campbell, agreed and admitted that the last lap made him nervous.
“I thought we had him covered but Shane snuck up on us,” Campbell said. “I am so excited. We had a perfect weekend. We scored every point we could earn—and I just got to hug the mayor.”
Campbell said his crew wasn’t too happy with him because he made the team change gearboxes about eight times during the weekend. In the end, his judgment paid off, and U-9 Delta/Realtrac boat provided the 10,000 fans along the Lake Guntersville shoreline an unforgettable race.
Third place went to the U-11 Reliable Diamond Tool presents J&D’s boat driven by Tom Thompson, while fourth place went to the U-21 Payne West Insurance boat driven by Brian Perkins. The next stop on the H1 Unlimited series tour is July 7-8 in Madison, Ind.