SAN DIEGO - The 49th annual San Diego Bayfair came to an end in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
The entire unlimited hydroplane season came down to one race. Longtime champion Steve David – who is retiring Sunday – took the lead his final race of a 45-year run. He started three-tenths of a second early. While he led the entire race, it was the 27-year-old up-and-comer, Jimmy Shane, who took the title.
David seemed to handle the defeat graciously. He said he was excited because those few minutes were for all the marbles.
"It's much more like an airplane than it is a boat nowadays," said Shane. "You're actually flying the boat on a cushion of air six to 12 inches off the water.
That is because it is the same type of turbo engine used to power the military's heavy-lift Chinook helicopter.
Shane is new to his cockpit. It is only his second year in the circuit. He skyrocketed to a lead spot – coming in second last year – right behind David.
"There's nothing on land that compares to it, and I would not recommend this, but if you got in your dryer at high speed, it'd be just like that," David told 10News.
David started racing at age 15. He has landed a lot of titles, but he has also broken a lot of bones.
"Knee, ribs, toe, neck, lower back, teeth," he said. "
San Diego Bayfair officials say the 2.5-mile oval course is the fastest in the world. It is part of the draw for nearly 100,000 people expected to turn out over the course of the three-day event.
The event started in 1964, a few years before David jumped on board.
"It's funny. I've known Jimmy when he was in his mommy's belly. His mom and dad were good friends of mine. Jimmy is a good friend of mine, and I can't imagine a finer gentleman to really take over when I'm out of here," said David.
Shane did not seem to share David's humble nature, and he was not shy about trying to steal the thunder from his family friend.
"I would love nothing more than to kind of swoop down and steal a little bit of his swan song that he's got going on leaving this sport," he said.
San Diego Bayfair is a nonprofit event put on by volunteers. Money made funds the next event, and anything above and beyond goes back into the bay. That means a bigger turnout could be a better Mission Bay.