Detroit News sports writer Gregg Krupa talks with Andrew Tate, of Walled Lake, racing in this weekend's Spirit of Detroit Hydrofest off Belle Isle. Gregg Krupa, The Detroit News
Detroit — Jimmy Shane sat in the pits near the stern of his new U-1 Miss HomeStreet after a blistering qualifying run.
The big, easy smile on his face said it all.
Shane flashed the winning expression of a driver in motor sport who knows his machine may be prohibitively fast.
“It was amazing to get this new boat around the Detroit course,” said Shane, the defending APBA Gold Cup champion and the five-time defending champion in the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series.
“That’s the best I’ve gotten through the Roostertail corner — ever.
“That says a lot about the team, and the new boat.
“I’m just excited to see what is in store for us.”
Driving for his sixth series championship, one short of the record of seven set by Dave Villwock (1998-2004) in Miss Budweiser, Shane is a stunning 1,998 points behind Walled Lake native Andrew Tate, with two of the nine races remaining in the series.
With his season rocky, Shane and the Miss HomeStreet team decided to enter a new Miss HomeStreet earlier this month in Seattle.
The boat proved fast. But penalties knocked Shane back in the field.
This weekend could be different with Shane competing against Tate, the hometown driver who is driving for his first Gold Cup win and series championship.
Shane qualified at 162.256 miles per hour and Tate at 157.636 mph on Friday for the top two positions heading into the first heat at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Shane approached Tate’s course record of 163.141 mph, which was set in 2017.
Tate’s qualifying drives were bumpier than Shane’s. Southerly winds on the Detroit River produced a significant chop throughout much of the day.
Because of waves organizers said went to three feet with whitecaps near the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle, and some significant chop near The Whittier apartment complex, they canceled the first round of testing Friday and shortened the second.
Tate clearly had some issues, including the Delta/Realtrac going airborne in the backstretch, along the Detroit Yacht Club, with the bow about five feet off the river, at one point.
Asked about the performance of the boat and his driving, a relaxed Tate said, “I think we can adjust both things.”
“Hopefully, we get a little more boat speed out of it.
“I think mainly in the cockpit is the big adjustment, for me,” he said.
“I’m not totally thrilled with my performance. The boat is fast as ever.”
With the crew of the Delta/Realtrac all over the boat in dry dock, and the bonnet pulled off the huge turbine engine, which is like those in Chinook helicopters in World War II, Tate said the search is on for more power.
“I think we have a couple ideas to improve for race weekend," he said.
Although he has a huge lead in the championship, Tate told The Detroit News earlier this month that Shane is always a threat, regardless of the standings.
When told of Shane’s assessment of the new Miss HomeStreet and how it sliced through the Roostertail turn, the narrowest and arguably the most harrowing in the racing series, Tate smiled.
“Obviously, he likes his new toy,” said Tate, the 29-year-old graduate of Plymouth High and a fourth-generation powerboat pilot.
“He’s got a brand new boat and it seems to be performing pretty well.
“It’s exciting. It’s good for them. I’m glad to see them running so well.
“I think, if we can put a solid performance together on more than one lap. We had a 158 (miles per hour) even when we got hung up in the air a little bit. We’ve just got to be consistent, and put them together.”
Tate said his airborne stint on the backstretch meant he needed better execution on the “canard,” foot pedals in the cockpit that drivers use to adjust how high the front end is driving over the water.
“A little more canard wing. I saw it coming when it was in my face,” Tate said of the disturbed water near the yacht club that required him to adjust the bow.
But a smoother ride may not be quick enough to bother Shane, and his big, new blue-and-white boat.
“We want to show everybody what this new boat has in her,” Shane said. “It’s light on its feet.”
Gunning for Gold
Speeds from Friday’s qualifying session for the APBA Gold Cup:
(Driver, boat, speed)
1. Jimmy Shane, Miss HomeStreet, 162.256
2. Andrew Tate, Delta/Realtec, 157.636
3. Jimmy King, The Roostertail, 156.713
4. Tom Thompson, Reliable Diamond Tool, 151.623
5. Dustin Echols, Bucket List Racing, 140.467
6. Bert Henderson, Spirit of Detroit, 138.606