Despite having captured five out of the past seven season titles in unlimited hydroplane racing, Steve David entered the weekend winless this year.
But if there’s one body of water David knows, it’s Lake Washington.
David, piloting the U6 Oh Boy! Oberto, won the 63rd running of the Albert Lee Cup at Seafair on Sunday.
It makes the third consecutive victory and fourth in the past six years for David and the Oh Boy! Oberto in Seattle.
“I live in Florida,” David said, “but I’ve always considered (Seattle) my second home.”
David certainly looked as if he owned the place in the finals, using a stellar start to cruise to a comfortable win – the 22nd of his career.
In similar fashion to last year’s victory, David leapfrogged his Oh Boy! Oberto at the start of the race, utilizing the come-from-behind maneuver to take the inside lane before easily separating from the field.
“We’ve actually been planning (the start) from the get go,” David said. “We just didn’t want to show it until the finals.”
The Oh Boy! Oberto posted an average speed time of 135.021 mph during the final race.
“I knew at the first turn that unless I made a mistake we were going to win it,” David said.
It turned out to be a mistake-free performance as Oh Boy! Oberto joined the Pay ‘N Pak, Atlas Van Lines and Miss Budweiser as the only boats to post three straight wins at Seafair.
“It’s really overwhelming,” David said. “I think the Oh Boy! Oberto holds a special place with the fans here. That name has a long tradition at Seafair. It’s been racing on Lake Washington for quite a while. Even when it wasn’t winning here, the fans always supported it. I’d like to think with Oh Boy! Oberto having its headquarters here with more than 1,000 employees, it’s the local boat people come out to cheer for.”
Jimmy Shane and U5 Graham Trucking finished second, while Dave Villwock and the U1 Spirit of Qatar was bumped up from fourth to third, following a penalty to original third-place finisher U37 Beacon Plumbing.
Villwock, who has posted a record 10 victories at Seafair and entered the weekend leading the points race this season, settled the U1 Spirit of Qatar on the far outside at the start of the race and was never able to challenge the winner, eventually being passed by Beacon Plumbing in the final lap and ending up in fourth place.
David, who captured the National High Point Driver Championship in back-to-back years (2005-06) and three years in a row (2008-10), collected 1,407 points – second to Shane’s 1,470 – over the weekend of racing to overtake Villwock in the standings.
David has 5,817 points with Villwock (5,620 points) and Shane (5,103) ranking second and third.
Two races remain this season, with the San Diego Bayfair from Sept. 14-16 and the Oryx Cup World Championship Jan. 10-12 in Doha, Qatar.
David opened the day of racing by winning Heat 2A and crossing the line first in Heat 3A before he was issued penalties related to a traffic jam at turn two prior to the start of the race.
Both David and Villwock were penalized 1 minute due to encroachments with Villwock receiving a 100-point deduction.
The penalties moved David down to fifth place and Villwock to sixth, pushing Shane to the top of Heat 3A.
“It was a mess,” Villwock said about the prerace incident. “There was a lot of traffic, a lot of boats bumping into each other.”
Both the Oh Boy! Oberto and Spirit of Qatar suffered minor damage during the altercations.
“You are going so slow you can’t see anything,” David said. “There was some damage, but it wasn’t bad enough to make me stop.”
David certainly proved that statement true in his finals race.