Powerboat racing has lost a strong advocate, a generous spirit and a fierce competitor. The unexpected death of Tamara (Tammy) Dawe, 40, on June 12 is a terrible loss to her family, friends and countless students who knew her as a caring and dedicated Language Arts teacher, yearbook advisor and friend.
In the February 2012 issue of Propeller, Tammy told the story of how she got started in racing. Having her dad, Ernie, and brother, Steven, heavily involved in J Stock Outboard and eventually OPC, it was inevitable that Tammy would jump into a boat someday. She said, “I went out full throttle and have been hooked ever since.”
She became a strong contender in A Stock Hydro and 20SS Hydro, often beating the boys and coming close “but not close enough!” to a national title. She did win Sectional Hydro honors, scored in the top five in High Points and won her share of races. However, despite being competitive, Tammy could take a loss with good humor. When her boat caught fire at a Wakefield Nationals (and made the cover of Propeller), she took it in stride. When she accidentally pulled the kill switch at the 2011 Nationals, she admitted it and kept right on going.
For Tammy, racing was not just about winning. “I have yet to win a national title or get into the Hall of Champions, but I know that if I never do, I will always have my boat racing family and that is all the Hall of Champions I need,” she said.
Encouraging young girls and women to enter the sport, Tammy mentored young racers, just as she did with her students. She applauded others’ victories, even when they beat her. Seeing her dad win an award, or her brother win a world championship, was as exciting to her as her own accomplishments. She cheered for Inboard and Junior racers as well as those from her own Stock Outboard category.
As a longtime Region 12 reporter, Tammy covered many Stock Outboard Nationals and local races. She served on the APBA Council-at-Large and the Stock Outboard Racing Commission for years. She and Ernie, worked tirelessly to recruit new racers. She encouraged, pleaded, harangued—whatever it took—to get boats out of garages and racers into boats on the water.
Teaching, her day job, was something that Tammy went full throttle at as well. As yearbook advisor, Tammy helped the kids raise money when the funds were not there. She attended every event at Mesa Linda Middle School in Victorville, Calif., where she had taught for seven years. A former student said of her in the Victorville Daily Press, “She always was there for me when I needed help. She helped me stay out of trouble. She was a very caring and amazing woman.”
Along with her parents Ernie and Mary Jo Dawe, brother Steven (Annica) Dawe, sister Mandy (Jeff) Smith, and nieces Katelynn and Kara Jo, an entire sport mourns the loss of a champion who showed everyone how to live life.
Race in peace, Tammy Dawe. We miss you.