Andrew Tate - Bio

Andrew Tate hopes to take Detroit River by storm

By Mike Brudenell, Detroit Free Press

Andrew Tate
Andrew Tate
Chris Denslow Photo

Remember the name Andrew Tate on the Detroit River later this month.

The 26-year-old Walled Lake powerboat racer may just drive into Unlimited Hydroplane history.

Tate will compete in the 2016 APBA Gold Cup at the UAW-GM Spirit of Detroit HydroFest on Aug. 26-28.

He’ll pilot the U-9 thunder boat at the event, which will be celebrating 100 years of Unlimited Hydroplane racing in the Motor City.

Despite his rookie status in the H1 Unlimited big-dog series, Tate has already displayed his enormous talent.

Last Sunday, in just his third Unlimited Hydroplane final, he drove the U-9 Sound Propeller/Les Schwab Tires entry to victory in the Albert Lee Appliance Seafair Cup on Lake Washington in Seattle.

Tate, whose father Mark Tate is a two-time Gold Cup winner, held off H1 Unlimited stars Jimmy Shane (U-1) and Brian Perkins (U-21) on the final lap to win.

“It’s monumental for me,” said Tate, who started racing inboard hydroplanes at age 11. “It’s a dream come true. I always imagined sitting in the cockpit of an Unlimited. It’s all kind of surreal.”

Tate was talking on Tuesday from the offices of his father’s Sun Coating Company in Plymouth, which offers production and custom coating services to the automotive and packaging industries, among others. Tate is the production manager there.

“My brother Brent and I split time in one boat my Dad provided us growing up,” said Tate, who drives the U-9 Jones Racing Unlimited (Delta RealTrac) for owners Mike and Lori Jones of Enumclaw, Wash. “He wanted to know if we wanted to really become race drivers before investing a lot of time and money.”

Andrew did, progressing through the junior ranks to race outboard hydroplanes and on to the 2.5-litre modified inboard category, where he won the 2013 APBA National High Points Championship.

The past couple seasons, Tate has raced in the Grand Prix class before being signed to run Unlimited Hydroplanes for Jones Racing this year.

“Driving a million-dollar boat – it’s a huge responsibility, and a great honor,” said Tate, whose great grandfather, Joe Tate Sr., and grandfather, Joe Tate Jr., were also Detroit powerboat racers and boat builders. “I’m very excited to be racing next on the Detroit River.”

Andrew’s mother, Sandy, who was born in California, also raced inboard hydroplanes.

“I remember sitting in the grandstands as a kid and watching dad race and sweating a lot,” recalled Tate. “Now I’m putting my parents through it.”

Mark and Sandy Tate were not in Seattle to witness Andrew’s victory last weekend, their son the first rookie to win the Seafair race since Jim Ranger of Detroit drove to the win there in “My Gypsy” in 1966.

“We watched it live on TV from home,” said Mark, 56, who won the Gold Cup on the Detroit River in 1991 and 1994 and was a four-time National High Points Champion. “It was a proud and exciting moment for us when Andrew crossed the finish line. I never won in Seattle. Sandy was jumping around and screaming in the living room.”

Andrew says his father doesn’t “try and overload me with advice about how to drive an Unlimited.”

“He painfully keeps his distance, but he’s always in my corner,” said Andrew.

Mark believes his son needs to learn by his own mistakes.

“You have to come up with a game plan, visualize the race, evaluate where you need to be on the racecourse,” said Mark. “Andrew is a great driver. He races hard and gets the most out of his boat. It’s his race to win or lose.”

Andrew Tate knows the dangers of powerboat racing. He accepts the risks.

“My last name comes with history in this sport,” said Tate. “”You walk the line (in Unlimited Hydroplane racing) between water and the sky. But there’s nothing like it.”

Tate has never piloted an Unlimited on the Detroit River, considered the toughest course the big thunder boats race on.

He’s never hurtled by the Detroit Yacht Club at over 200 miles per hour while setting up for the Roostertail Turn, the tightest on the H1 Unlimited circuit.

“Bill Muncey said once you don’t win on the Detroit River, you survive,” said Tate. “Look, I’m just humbled to be competing in the 100th year of Unlimited Hydroplane racing in Detroit. I rate it the equal of the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, and the Stanley Cup. I’m going to have to figure this out on my own.”

[Detroit Free Press, Published 7:34 p.m. ET Aug. 11, 2016]