(Evansville, Ind.) - Defending event and series champions Dave Villwock and Miss Budweiser successfully opened defense of their titles with a victory at today's Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio at Evansville, Ind., the first race of the Budweiser ...
(Evansville, Ind.) - Defending event and series champions Dave Villwock and Miss Budweiser successfully opened defense of their titles with a victory at today's Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio at Evansville, Ind., the first race of the Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series Presented by Laughlin.
Since joining Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser team in 1997, Villwock, who won the 1996 Evansville event driving Miss Pico, has been flawless in Evansville, winning a total of six consecutive events.
Villwock powered away at the start but was consistently challenged by Mike Hanson in the U-9 WABX throughout the race. Greg Hopp, in the U-100 Miss Znetix I, began the final as the provisional starter in the field and maneuvered around the course to challenge. But Villwock and the Miss Budweiser were too strong and pulled away to claim the victory. With the victory, Villwock increased his career win total to 36 and Bernie Little's to 131.
Hanson ended up finishing in second with Hopp in third. Rounding out the top five was Mark Weber in the U-10 Miss Emcor in fourth and Jimmy King in the U-8 LLumar Window Film in fifth.
"We always hope to start the season with a win," said Villwock, "but after seeing how tight the field was in qualifying and in the preliminary heats, I had my doubts about our chances. The team did a tremendous job preparing for this race and I could have not won this without all their efforts."
The event, which featured a tightly bunched qualifying field and close competition in preliminary heats, was the first of the season under the new HYDRO-PROP series management. A record crowd for the Evansville Freedom Festival enjoyed the competition under near ideal conditions.
Mike Hanson in the U-9 was the fastest qualifier at Evansville with a time of 154.179 miles per hour. Dave Villwock was only able to set a qualifying speed of 150.527 mph, thus, ending Miss Budweiser's streak of being the top qualifier in 28 consecutive Unlimited Hydroplane races.
With his victory today, Dave Villwock took the early lead in the O'Doul's High Points Championship standings. Villwock leads the championship with 158 points over Mike Hanson with 143 points and Mark Weber with 124 points. Jimmy King currently sits in fourth with 93 points and Steve David has 83 points.
* Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio Results: 1. U-1 Miss Budweiser, Dave Villwock 2. U-9 WABX, Mike Hanson 3. U-100 Miss Znetix I, Greg Hopp 4. U-10 Miss Emcor, Mark Weber 5. U-8 LLumar Window Film, Jimmy King 6. U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David 7. U-3 Master Tire, Mitch Evans 8. U-99 Miss Znetix II, Terry Troxell 9. U-25 Security Racing Products, Dr. Ken Muscatel </pre>
The Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio race will be televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 22 at 11:30 PM (EDT).
* 51st Annual Belterra Casino Madison Regatta After today's race in Evansville, the Unlimited Hydroplane teams will pack up and drive down river to Madison, Ind. for the 51st running of the Belterra Casino Madison Regatta, July 7-8. Once again the banks of the Ohio River will be lined with fans as the Unlimiteds roar along at speeds of over 200 miles per hour.
* Last Year at Madison Dave Villwock, in the Miss Budweiser, and Mark Weber, in USA Racing's U-10, had a terrific battle last year at Madison. Both drivers won all three of their preliminary heats and headed to the final for the showdown. Capitalizing on a perfect start, Villwock was able to get an early lead and held on to win his third career Madison Regatta. Weber finished second and Mike Hanson in Jones Racing's U-9 finished third.
* Madison Expected Entries Reigning champion Dave Villwock will be in Madison to defend his victory from last year's race. Challenging Villwock this year will be Steve David, Mark Weber, Mitch Evans, Jimmy King, Mike Hanson, Ken Muscatel, Terry Troxell and Greg Hopp.
* Miss Madison Gold Cup Anniversary This year's event marks the 30th anniversary of Miss Madison's victory at the 1971 APBA Gold Cup, then held in Madison. While legend has it that Jim McCormick's victory was of "David vs. Goliath" proportion, APBA historian Fred Farley disagrees. "The popular press account tells of Miss Madison, this aging underdog of a boat, suddenly and miraculously coming alive on July 4, 1971, and trouncing its well-financed opposition in the race of races. Here was a modern day David and Goliath, the hydro upset of the century, in the most memorable aquatic shootout since the Monitor and the Merrimac. All of this hyperbole, of course, is pure poppycock. Miss Madison was not the thousand-to-one longshot of popular legend. On the contrary, she was a bona-fide contender."
* Belterra Casino Madison Regatta Historical Facts
o Andy Marcy in My Darling won the first Madison Regatta in 1950
o Bill Muncey became the first three-time consecutive winner (1960-62)
o Little's Miss Budweiser first competed in 1964 but did not win until 1970
o Madison hosted the 1971 Gold Cup, won by the hometown Miss Madison, driven by Jim McCormick
o The first turbine-powered Unlimited Hydroplane
victory occurred in 1984 with Chip Hanauer in the Atlas Van Lines
o Bill Muncey and Chip Hanauer each have seven Madison Regatta victories
o The Miss Budweiser has won 13 Madison Regattas
In addition to the Unlimited Hydroplane race, this year's Belterra Casino Madison Regatta festivities include a fireworks display, a parade, live bands, a basketball tournament, a balloon race, beauty pageant, bike races, 10K walk/run and an air show.
Practice and qualifying for the Unlimited Hydroplanes will begin Saturday, July 7 with the finals scheduled for Sunday, July 8. The Belterra Casino Madison Regatta race will be televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, August 5 at 7:00 PM (EDT)