Final Heat Results
1st U-16 Miss Elam Plus Nate Brown 135.804
2nd U-1 Miss Budweiser Dave Villwock 129.644
3th U-9 Skyway Park and Bowl Mike Hanson 127.644
4rd U-99 Znetix II Terry Troxell 124.123
5th U-10 Miss Diamond Lil's Mark Weber 121.056
6th U-100 Znetix I * Greg Hopp 133.804
7th U-2 Trendwest # Scott Pierce 75.178
Fastest lap (1st) went to the Miss Elam Plus at 140.192.
* Greg Hopp was penalized during the heat for arriving too early at the score up buoy.
# Scott Pierce was penalized one minute for taking out a buoy.
By Danny O'Neil
Seattle Times staff reporter
Nate Brown must pay a price for the only victory of his career.
By winning the General Motors Cup yesterday, Brown lost his best words of reassurance when his 10-year-old son, Derek, is disappointed by his performance in a quarter-midget car race.
"I keep cheering him up by saying, `I haven't won a race in 10 years,' " Brown said. "I guess I can't say that anymore."
Not after he led yesterday's final from the first lap to the fifth in the U-16 Miss E-Lam Plus, Brown's first victory in a decade of driving unlimited hydroplanes. It was a sweet hometown win for the 42-year-old Preston resident, who has driven three different boats the past three seasons.
His career has included so many second-place finishes that Brown has lost track.
His wait ended yesterday, as Brown's aggressive start and determination mixed well with his boat, which was racing for only the second time this season. The E-Lam team won its second race in seven years of unlimited-hydroplane racing, and Brown became the fifth different winner in five races this season, the first time since 1988 that has happened.
Brown started on Lane 2, just inside Miss Budweiser driver Dave Villwock, who had won two of three preliminary heats before yesterday's final.
"I was going to come back upside down or with red paint all over the boat, or I was going to win," Brown said.
The win erased any regret over his start last week in the Tri-Cities. Brown's boat qualified second-fastest for the Columbia Cup last week and won two of the three preliminary heats. But in the final, Brown made a mistake in timing his approach and crossed the finish line about five seconds late.
Yesterday, starting lanes were not assigned for the final as they were in the first four races this season. Drivers dueled for lanes before the start, and Brown fought his way into Lane 2, wedged between Dave Villwock in Lane 3 and Greg Hopp in Lane 1.
"Fortunately, there was a place for me to go, and I squirted up in there," Brown said.
It wasn't the only gamble for the E-Lam team, which decided to use a propeller that was cracked. The move could have backfired because the prop was more susceptible to break.
"But it was the fastest prop we had, so we rolled the dice and it didn't come up snake eyes," Brown said.
Five of a different kind
Nate Brown's victory marked the first time since 1988 that five different boats have won races in a season.
Brown raced one lane inside Villwock, who was the fastest qualifier for yesterday's races despite being limited to 3.9 gallons of fuel per minute. Almost all other boats were allowed 4.3 gallons per minute.
"We just didn't have the power to catch a boat that's pretty much a carbon-copy of our own," Villwock said.
But E-Lam crew chief Erick Ellstrom said Brown was the one who made the difference yesterday.
"He just drove the pants off that thing," Ellstrom said.
Brown had the fastest lap during preliminaries, averaging 141.933 mph during the first heat, but Brown lost to Villwock in that race.
Villwock failed to win for the fourth straight race, the team's longest drought in three seasons. But he increased his lead in the national point standings, 150 points ahead of Mark Weber.
The E-Lam team won for the second time in two seasons after going winless its first five years in the sport. The team also has a new boat, which wasn't ready for the season opener but was going full throttle yesterday.
Scott Raney, one of two full-time crew members on the boat, has worked more than 70 hours a week for four months. He has a month-old son, but this boat is his baby, too, and yesterday he cried as Brown floated toward the dock after the victory.
Brown's tears were hidden by his sunglasses and helmet, but he danced on the top of his boat, his side not hurting a bit though his appendix was removed less than a month ago. Three days after the surgery, he tested the boat for the first time. Stitches were still in his abdomen when he raced the boat for the first time.
"I was still kind of hobbling," Brown said.
Yesterday, he said he couldn't feel any pain. Just happiness after waiting a decade for his first victory in a race that wasn't certain until the final lap.
"I almost hooked it once, I almost hit a buoy once, I almost blew over once," he said.
"I never thought it was mine until I crossed the finish line and then I started crying. It's still hard for me to keep from getting choked up right now, thinking how bad I wanted this race."
Heat 1A -
1. U-1 Miss Budweiser 139.799
2. U-16 Miss Elam Plus 138.002
3. U-15 Miss EMCOR 129.519
4. U-10 Miss Diamond Lil's 125.570
5. U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto 121.210
6. U-25 Silver Dollar Casino 113.224
7. U-20 Golden Nugget Casino 106.646
Heat 1B -
1. U-100 Znetix I 131.467
2. U-99 Znetix II 131.160
3. U-9 Skyway Park and Bowl 128.159
4. U-8 LLumar Window Film 121.254
5. U-2 Trendwest 114.579
6. U-3 Vacationville.com 110.143
Heat 2A -
1. Miss E-Lam Plus 135.277
2. Skyway Park B&C 132.601
3. Miss Budweiser 132.119
4. Miss EMCOR 126.983
5. Oh Boy! Oberto 122.482
6. Silver Dollar Casino 106.211
Fastlap - Miss Budweiser 140.782
Heat 2B -
1. Znetix II 128.852
2. Znetix I 123.921
3. Diamond Lil's 115.180
4. Vacationville.com 111.555
5. Golden Nugget Casino 109.805
6. Trendwest 121.424
Llumar Window Film DNS
Fastlap - Znetix II 129.466
Heat 3A -
1. Diamond Lil's 134.047
2. Miss E-Lam Plus 133.999
3. Oh Boy! Oberto 133.047
4. Skyway Park B&C 126.985
5. Silver Dollar Casino 113.588
6. Znetix II 109.961
Fastlap - Miss E-Lam 138.283
Heat 3B -
1. Miss Budweiser 134.084
2. Znetix I 124.344
3. Vacationville.com 115.372
4. Trendwest 101.86
5. Miss EMCOR, DNF
U-20 Gldn Nggt Casino DNF
Fastlap - Miss Budweiser 137.072
Winner U-2 Trendwest, Scott Pierce 123.735
Fast Comp lap (1st) (Heat 1A) went to the Miss Elam Plus at 141.933
U-1 Miss Budweiser (T-6) Dave Villwock 149.458
U-9 Skyway Park Bowl & Casino Mike Hanson 149.309
U-16 Miss Elam Plus Nate Brown 148.674
U-100 Znetix I Greg Hopp 145.959
U-15 Miss EMCOR Mike Weber 144.239
U-99 Znetix II Terry Troxell 143.888
U-10 Miss Diamond Lil's Mark Weber 142.301
U-8 LLumar Window Film Jimmy King 140.433
U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto Steve David 138.600
U-2 Trendwest Scott Pierce 139.496
U-25 Silver Dollar Casino Ken Muscatel 138.344
U-20 Golden Nugget Casino Jerry Hopp 133.368
U-3 Vacationville.com Mitch Evans 132.132