Jimmy Shane (left) leads Andrew Tate down the frontstretch during the MainSource Bank Indiana Governor’s Cup Sunday on the Ohio River. Shane led for three laps, but a big hop on the final lap allowed Tate to ease past and take the win. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Jimmy Shane (left) leads Andrew Tate down the frontstretch during the MainSource Bank Indiana Governor’s Cup Sunday on the Ohio River. Shane led for three laps, but a big hop on the final lap allowed Tate to ease past and take the win. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
This year’s 67th running of the Indiana Governor’s Cup may not have counted officially and there were no season points at stake, but you wouldn’t have known that by the way the final heat played out.

Andrew Tate pulled away on the last lap to drive the U-9 Delta/Realtrac to victory in the final heat of the MainSource Bank Madison Regatta on Sunday.

Tate spent the first four laps chasing down Jimmy Shane and finally getting a break when Shane’s U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank/Miss Madison hit a roller in turn one of the final lap and briefly lurched to its starboard side before coming back down on the water.

That opening was all Tate needed to overtake Shane, speed to the win and put his name on the same Cup won twice by his father Mark just over 20 years ago.

“What a race. I hope everybody here enjoyed it as much as I did,” said the personable 27-year-old driver from the Detroit area. “Hopefully we can come back here next year and do it again.”

This year’s edition of the annual boat race had a different flavor than the 66 that preceded it. Rather than a full field of boats battling it out in heat racing, only four boats were invited to put on a series of duels as the Regatta desperately looked to find a way to save money and reduce its considerable debt.

The four drivers did their part, waging six preliminary matcvh races as each boat got a chance to square off against the others before all four hit the water in the winner-take-all final.

For the most part, the races were exhibitions, with the drivers doing their best to put on a good show without risking damage to their half-million dollar machines. But that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some hard racing, and smiles after victories.

Shane won all three of his preliminary heats using the same formula each time. He stayed close to his competition for two laps, then hammered the trottle in his HomeStreet to pull away on the third and final lap.

Shane tried to repeat that in the final heat and it probably would have worked if not for the mishap in the first turn. He and Tate quickly pulled away from the field and spent the next three laps in a duel, but with Shane nearly always in the lead.

Shane was still ahead and pulling away when the mishap happened. As the HomeStreet entered the turn, it suddenly became unhooked with its skidfin in the air. For one terrifying moment, Shane thought he had lost the boat.

“I had him going into that last turn and I hit one of the biggest rollers I’ve ever hit,” Shane said. “The boat was literally 90 degrees from the water, it was completely sideways. At that point, the boat came down and Andrew was gone. I tried to catch up but there was nothing I could do from basically stopping in that corner. The skidfin was pointed toward the sky. I thought I was going over and that was the race.”

Tate, who was in lane one but trailing, never let off the gas and zoomed past Shane as he tried to regain control of the boat. By the time Shane had his HomeStreet back up to speed, Tate was in control.

“He definitely got a little bit of a jump on us but there was plenty of room in the first turn and the entire race I was just chasing him and chasing him,” Tate said. “That Miss Madison is fast.”

Tom Thompson finished third aboard the U-11 J&D’s Hydraulic while J.W. Myers was fourth in the U-27 Wiggins Racing.

The third place finish was the capper to a strong weekend for the U-11 team, which spent nearly the entire offseason rebuilding that boat, completing the process just a week ago.

After failing to test on Friday, the team put together a strong showing in Saturday’s first heat when Thompson looked sharp in a loss to Shane. But Sunday was even better with Thompson picking up a surprise win over Tate in the second heat, then beating Myers in the final duel.

“This crew’s worked extremely hard all winter long and even up to here. We didn’t test on Friday because we had a lot of little things that needed to be done,” Thompson said. “The good news is, it showed that we made the right decision to fix this boat. It ran well, it came off the turn like we expected it to. A few minor things happened to us, but there are a still a few more things we know we can get out of it. We learned a lot of things and we’re really excited going into Tri-Cities.”

Tate claimed the other match race win, beating Myers in the second heat on Saturday. Myers, who is returning to an Unlimited cockpit after a five-year absence, is still trying to re-qualify as a driver and nearly reached that level this weekend driving for Wiggins before he shifts to his regular ride, the U-16 Ellstrom Racing starting at Tri-Cities later this month.

The victory allows Tate, who was sponsored locally by Auxier Marketing, to etch his name on the Indiana Governor’s Cup, something his father, Mark Tate, did in 1995 and 1996 while driving the U-10 Smokin’ Joe’s, but it won’t officially count as his second career Unlimited win.

“This is a very special place for me and my family. It was always on the calendar every year when my dad was driving. We were going to Madison and we weren’t just going to see the parade, but we were going to get to be in the parade and ride on the boat with dad. That’s really, really cool,” Tate said. “And the fireworks were always top of the line and I remember running around with sparklers. Those are memories that I’m going to cherish and never forget.”

Mark Tate, now 57 and long retired from the sport, was on hand this weekend as the proud father and mentor.

“We’re very proud of him,” Tate said of his 27-year-old son. “He’s very humble and a great driver.”

The four teams will join the rest of the fleet in the Tri-Cities in three weeks for the official start of the H1 Unlimited season. Shane, for one, is looking forward to getting back on the water and squaring off once again against Tate.

“Congrats to Andrew and the team, but we’ll get ’em again,” Shane said with a smile. “There are four more races and we’ll get ’em again here.”

———

2017 MAINSOURCE BANK

INDIANA GOVERNOR’S CUP

Ohio River, Madison, Ind.

Length: 2 miles

RESULTS

(no speeds available)

Sunday, July 2

FINAL HEAT

1. Andrew Tate, U-9 Delta/Realtrac; 2. Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank; 3. Tom Thompson, U-11 J&D’s; 4. J.W. Myers, U-27 Wiggins Racing.

PRELIMINARY HEATS

Saturday, July 1

HEAT 1A

1. Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank; 2. Tom Thompson, U-11 J&D’s.

HEAT 1B

1. Andrew Tate, U-9 Delta/Realtrac; 2. J.W. Myers, U-27 Wiggins Racing.

Sunday, July 2

HEAT 2A

1. Tom Thompson, U-11 J&D’s; 2. Andrew Tate, U-9 Delta/Realtrac.

HEAT 2B

1. Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank; 2. J.W. Myers, U-27 Wiggins Racing.

HEAT 3A

1. Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank; 2. Andrew Tate, U-9 Delta/Realtrac

HEAT 3B

1. Tom Thompson, U-11 J&D’s; 2. J.W. Myers, U-27 Wiggins Racing.

———

MIDWEST TUBE MILLS

GRAND PRIX WORLD

Ohio River, Madison, Indiana

Length: 1 1/4 miles

RESULTS

(no speeds available)

Saturday, July 1

FINAL HEAT

1. Greg Hopp, GP-12 Dan Cole Sells Cars; 2. Rob Hall, GP-74 Off Broadway Tap Room; 3. Ed Preston, GP-20 Harry’s Stone Grill; Jerry Hopp, GP-15 Miss SuperShine, DNF.

PRELIMINARY HEATS

HEAT 1A

1. Jamie Nilsen, GP-55 Performance Tool/Fat Boyz; 2. Greg Hopp, GP-12 Dan Cole Sells Cars; 3. Rob Hall, GP-74 Off Broadway Tap Room; 4. Tony Black, GP-83 Cruisin’ Auto; Chris Grant, GP-3 Chandler Chevrolet, DNS.

HEAT 1B

1. Jerry Hopp, GP-15 Miss SuperShine; 2. Ed Preston, GP-20 Harry’s Stone Grill; 3. David Warren, GP-19 Advantage Auto Solutions; John Grigg, GP-52 Bob Green’s Tax Service, DNS.

Sunday, July 2

FINAL HEAT

1. Greg Hopp, GP-12 Dan Cole Sells Cars; 2. Jerry Hopp, GP-15 Miss SuperShine; 3. Jamie Nilsen, GP-55 Performance Tool/Fat Boyz; 4. Rob Hall, GP-74 Off Broadway Tap Room. David Warren, GP-19 Advantage Auto Solutions, DNF; Ed Preston, GP-20 Harry’s Stone Grill, DNF; John Grigg, GP-52 Bob Green’s Tax Service, DNS.

PRELIMINARY HEATS

HEAT 1A

1. Jamie Nilsen, GP-55 Performance Tool/Fat Boyz; 2. David Warren, GP-19 Advantage Auto Solutions; 3. Ed Preston, GP-20 Harry’s Stone Grill; Chris Grant, GP-3 Chandler Chevrolet, DNS; John Grigg, GP-52 Bob Green’s Tax Service, DNF.

HEAT 1B

1. Jerry Hopp, GP-15 Miss SuperShine; 2. Greg Hopp, GP-12 Dan Cole Sells Cars; 3. Rob Hall, GP-74 Off Broadway Tab Room; 4. Tony Black, GP-83 Cruisin’ Auto.