HPROP: A possible 22nd World Championship for Miss Budweiser

Could it be a 22nd World Championship for Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser? SAN DIEGO, Calif.-- Rivalries, complaints, jubilation and anticipation, it will soon be over as the 2002 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series comes to a close this...

Could it be a 22nd World Championship for Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser?

SAN DIEGO, Calif.-- Rivalries, complaints, jubilation and anticipation, it will soon be over as the 2002 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series comes to a close this weekend in San Diego after a season of ups, downs and everything in between. Dave Villwock and Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser team hope to end the year with a 22nd World Championship after a victory in San Diego.

"We've met every goal this year but one, and we're close," said Miss Budweiser Owner Bernie Little."At the beginning of the season I told the team we had three goals. Our first goal was to win the first race of the season in Evansville, which we did. Second, I told them I wanted a 14th Gold Cup, which the team delivered. And our third goal: win the Miss Budweiser a 22nd Championship. I hope to celebrate three for three on Sunday."

Miss Budweiser Driver Dave Villwock has 39 wins in his career and five championships, he hopes to make it six championships in San Diego. With a 92 point lead over Nate Brown in the U-16 Elam Plus, two good heats by Villwock could clinch the championship.

"It's a mathematical scenario, and anything could happen," Villwock said."However, Bernie was clear on the goals for the season. In order to meet his orders, we've had to work extremely hard this year to deliver the right race setups, take as many points in each heat as possible, think smart and be competitive," said Villwock."We need to continue to do that this weekend in San Diego, hopefully we will do well early and clinch the championship, taking the pressure off. San Diego can be a challenging place to race. Water conditions and wind can be a factor and it's important for all the drivers to think smart and be safe."

This year's San Diego Thunderboat Regatta, Sept. 21-22, will benefit Children's Hospital and Health Centers. Dave Villwock has won the San Diego event four times ('94,' 98,' 99 and 2000). Miss Budweiser and Bernie Little have 13 wins in San Diego (1966,' 69,' 70,' 77,' 81,' 84,' 85,' 89,' 91,' 96,' 98,' 99, 2000).

Miss Budweiser Legacy to Continue-- When Miss Budweiser owner Bernie Little, 76, was hospitalized this season with pneumonia, causing him to miss three races, questions were asked about the Miss Budweiser team's future. Bernie Little made it clear in Seattle that the team would continue when he retires under the leadership of his son Joseph Little, Sr.

Joe Little filled in for Bernie as the owner's representative at the Madison, Detroit and Tri-Cities races this year. Joe Little who has attended almost every race over the last several years has been around the Miss Budweiser team since Bernie began in unlimited hydroplane competition 40 years ago. During Bernie's absence, Joe little delivered play-by-play accounts of each heat to his dad via cell phone as Bernie recovered at his Lakeland, Fla. home.

"I had asked Joe sometime ago if he'd like to takeover the team when I'm no longer able to run it," said Bernie Little."We've spent the last couple of years getting ready for that. Joe did a great job this year for the three races I couldn't make and it was a good trial run. But he's going to have to wait a bit before taking over the reigns, because as long as I'm physically able, I'll be there with the team."

Miss Budweiser Wins Lake of The Ozarks Shoot-out-- During the seven-week hiatus between the most recent Unlimited Hydroplane race in Seattle on Aug. 4 and the San Diego event on Sept. 21-22, the Miss Budweiser team traveled to Lake Ozark, Mo., on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, to attend the 14th Annual Lake Rescue Shootout on behalf of Anheuser-Busch. The event benefits local fire districts that keep the Lake of the Ozarks safe.

Villwock went on to set a new event record of 192 miles per hour. In defeating national competition including the twin-turbine powered Callan Marine entry from Florida that reached 168 miles per hour on Saturday, Miss Budweiser claimed the Top Gun title and will be featured on the cover of Powerboat Magazine in December. Villwock, who set the mark in his last run of the day, broke the previous event record of 165 miles per hour set by five-time Shootout Top Gun champion David Scott last year in the Budweiser offshore boat.

"Originally, Miss Budweiser was scheduled to make only exhibition runs during the weekend. When Callan Marine entered their high-powered boat with twin 2500 horse-power turbine engines to defeat David Scott's offshore boat with twin 1300 horse-power Sterling engines, we decided to fight fire with fire," said Villwock, of Auburn, Wash. "So we entered Miss Budweiser for Sunday's event and made some really fast runs to stop our competition. We're happy to keep Budweiser's claim as the Top Gun champion in the Lake Rescue Shootout."

O'Doul's High Points Update-- Dave Villwock goes into the final round of competition this year leading the O'Doul's National High Points with 722 points, a lead of 92 points over Nate Brown in the U-16 Elam Plus. Michael Hanson in the U-9 boat is in third with 572 points. Mark Tate and the U-2 boat currently sits in fourth with 544 points and Terry Troxell in the U-99 is fifth with 482 points.

Statistically Speaking-- Between Guntersville, AL, 1963, and Seattle, WA, 2002, the Bernie Little team entered a grand total of 353 Unlimited races. Since 1963, Little's Miss Budweiser team has claimed 134 Unlimited victories, 21 world championships and 14 APBA Gold Cups. The team also has finished in the top-3 a total of 226 times. Little's team has a nearly perfect attendance record. In 40 seasons, only twice have boats that Bernie either owned or leased missed a race. He did not have an entry at Madison, IN, 1966, or Detroit, MI, 1979.

The MISS BUDWEISER name first appeared in 1964. In 1963, although sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, Little used the name TEMPO, on account of his association at the time with bandleader Guy Lombardo.

Villwock, who has been racing Unlimited Hydroplanes since 1992, has 39 wins, five series championships and five APBA Gold Cups to his credit. Little is competing in his 40th consecutive year of Unlimited hydroplane competition.

-emc-

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Series Boat
Drivers David Scott