HPROP: Season preview press conference, part I

HYDRO-PROP Teleconference Preview of the Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series Guests: Dave Villwock, driver of U-1 Miss Budweiser Steve David, driver of the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto Mike Weber, driver of the U-10 Miss EMCOR HYDRO-PROP, Teleconference...

HYDRO-PROP Teleconference
Preview of the Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series

Guests:
Dave Villwock, driver of U-1 Miss Budweiser
Steve David, driver of the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto
Mike Weber, driver of the U-10 Miss EMCOR
HYDRO-PROP, Teleconference moderator

Part 1 0f 2

Hydro-Prop: Mike, last week it was announced that you will taking over driving duties for your brother Mark in the U-10 Miss EMCOR for USA Racing Partners. Can you explain what happened that placed you in the seat for this season?

Mike Weber - "It kind of came up quick, my brother Mark who was the driver for years had some things come up with his career that forced him to take a back seat and put Unlimited racing on the back burner. I've been with Kim Gregory's team on several different occasions and ran a few races for them last year. Gregory tried to work things out with their other boat and eventually they ran a two-boat team. When Mark stepped down, Kim gave me a call and I'm thrilled. It's an opportunity I dreamed about for a long time."

Q: Mike: Will this be the first time that you run a full season?

Weber: "No actually in my rookie season 1998, I did all the races with Jones Racing. The following year I was the back-up driver for Chip Hanauer and the PICO and also drove for Ed Cooper. So actually this will be my third full season."

Q: Mike: What are your expectations and how is the team progressing? Anything new this season?

Weber: "I have been talking to the guys out in Las Vegas, they are really excited because they've got two boats on the trailer which two weeks before the first race they have never been able to do before. So they are better prepared than they have ever been. The team has run second in points the last three seasons in a row and I think they are kind of tired of being number two. We want to be number one and that is definitely our goal. Obviously that is not a small task but we are going to try and give it all we have and hopefully we can move up a spot to be champions at the end of 2002.

We have also signed EMCOR as the season sponsor and will race this year as Miss EMCOR. In addition, we have also reached agreements with two presenting sponsors. The Detroit Yacht Club will be the presenting sponsor in Detroit and the Grand Central Casino in Tukwila will be a presenting sponsor in Seattle."

Q: Mike: What does the Evansville race mean to you, and compare and contrast your racing style with your brother's.

Weber: "As far as racing styles, I would say we are very similar. We've been teammates for years in 5-Litres all the way to teammates in the Unlimiteds. So we work together very well and Mark is still going to be at a lot of the races. So we will still work together and bounce things off each other and I don't see that changing. As far as Evansville, having raced for the Cooper team, Evansville is sort of a hometown race for me. I love the course and I've always done fairly well there. I am looking forward to it."

Q: Mike: Will Mark be in attendance at Evansville to help you?

Weber: "That is not for sure yet, he's playing it by ear. He said he would like to go to Evansville but there are a lot of things going on in his life right now, so it will probably be a last minute decision."

Q: Mike: I know last year the team really wanted a win to dedicate to George Stratton. How does the team start this season? Do you feel some of the pressure off in some respect?

Weber: "I think it probably is, but George will always be a part of the team and we think about him a lot. He is certainly a motivation because there was no more of a racer than George Stratton. I think he is still an inspiration for the team but I think the team has put that behind us. Last year it was tough at times especially going to San Diego on the first anniversary. So in a lot of regards I think that pressure is off. Me and the team getting to know each other better will probably be tougher in the first few races pressure wise. Although I am going to go down a day early and we are going to go through everything. I think there will be a little pressure on me; I've got big shoes to fill with Mark. He did a great job. I've worked with the team a lot in the past, we're going to be running the old Appian boat that Mark ran last year which I have gotten a lot of time in so that will make it a little easier."

Hydro-Prop: Dave Villwock, our defending series champion. The Miss Budweiser team has already tested, how do things look this year?

Dave Villwock - "Things are good. We had a real opportunity in Seattle to run in rough water in testing and we look forward to that because we don't get to run in smooth flat water on race day, usually by 4 p.m. We got two days of testing getting about 12 laps. The team did a great job and we are ready to go."

Q: Dave: Going back to Evansville - you have had great success there. Is there anything particular behind that success? Is it a place you really like?

Villwock: "I think I like the environment. It is a great venue for boat racing where people get a really good look at what we do. I get supercharged by the fans and try extra hard. It is a course that we have always done well at and I have won six times in a row. I won the first race there with Fred Leland and then five in a row with Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser. I guess the odds aren't good that I'll win again but I'll try."

Q: Dave: Why do you think you've been so successful at Evansville? Also, are the rules the same or did the series do some tinkering with them this year?

Villwock: "No, everything is the same as far as rules. I enjoy the course itself. It is a course that pays a driver that is accurate yet cognizant of the conditions that change. Evansville has that, challenges. Every course has its challenges but Evansville has certain characteristics that pop up at different times of the day (wind conditions). You have to pay attention. Mike Hanson and his boat were faster than we were last year. In the final he passed us with a lot more speed going into the first turn but there were some windy conditions there that got his boat up. We managed to get around him and get the win. That was really the story last year. Trying to set the boat up to best recognize the conditions of the course. This team has a lot of history at Evansville and has learned so much about those conditions. We try to take advantage of that experience."

Q: Dave: What do you think about the rule changes? How do you deal with that?

Villwock: "It's difficult. We just have to look back and I've been very lucky, I've got to win a championship and Gold Cup for Fred Leland and multiple championships and Gold Cups for Bernie Little. We've been very successful. Although it's very frustrating to not truly be able to compete at some of these venues, I understand that they have to do something to let some other people win."

Q: Dave: Along those lines, is there a point where you are almost an underdog in the Miss Budweiser?

Villwock: "It's just a condition of the sport right now. The organizing body has decided to do what they are going to do and obviously since they have done all those things, we have not won a race since Evansville last year. That is just the way it goes. There is nothing I can do about it. All we can do is go the race and try to run as best we can and if the rules are slanted away from us, that's okay. Whatever they want to do, they can do and we will just do the best we can."

Q: Dave: Do you think the rules have made it better for the fans?

Villwock: "That is an opinion that the fans have to decide. It is also up to the media to decide whether the competition is fair or not. I can't answer that question."

Q: Dave: Are you concerned that this is the 2nd year in a row with only 6 races? On the other hand ESPN has expanded from a ½ hour to a 1-hour show.

Villwock: "Well, I certainly wish there were more. Certainly the teams that are struggling to run every single weekend live off being able to go to more venues. A few years ago we had 11 races. We have gone backward in that regard. For us it doesn't matter much, but for the guys that are trying to put teams together, they need revenue to do that. How they get that revenue is to go to more races. They need dollars to get better. That is what they want and we want, to watch teams get better."

Q: Dave: When did you guys find out about fuel restriction and what you would be running that particular race?

Villwock: "We would be told what fuel level we would get just minutes before qualifying would start in the morning of that race weekend. And I believe it will be the same this year."

Q: Dave: What do you think about the fans in Evansville and what sort of impact can they have on a race?

Villwock: "Fans have a great impact. The people at Evansville line that waterfront and they'll pump a driver up a little bit. We try to put on the best show we can for the fans. We give everything we can. Those fans really appreciate that and that is something that has helped me at Evansville."

Q: Dave: Does there need to be stability to the rules and not have them changing?

Villwock: "That's not for me to decide. Whatever they want to do they will do. We will just try to live by whatever rules they are going to give us."

Q: Dave: How challenging is it to adapt to changes as a competitor?

Villwock: "Well it is certainly difficult. The end result is we didn't win any races. We'll just see what happens in the future."

Q: Dave: What was the lowest fuel you ran last year at a race?

Villwock: "I don't remember to tell you the truth."

Q: Dave: Since this is the first race of the season, will you start fresh with full fuel?

Villwock: "I'd be very surprised if that happened. We don't know where they will start us."

Q: Dave: When you tested do you test with 4.3 gallons per minute, 4.0 gallons per minute, 3.9 gallons per minute?

Villwock: "Yes."

-hp-

UHRA press conference part II

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