HPROP: Columbia Cup: Miss Budweiser preview

Miss Budweiser, Dave Villwock look for victory in Tri-Cities. Tri-Cities Water Follies-- The 2002 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series continues this weekend on the Columbia River in Washington as part of the Tri-Cities Water Follies. Dave ...

Miss Budweiser, Dave Villwock look for victory in Tri-Cities.

Tri-Cities Water Follies-- The 2002 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series continues this weekend on the Columbia River in Washington as part of the Tri-Cities Water Follies. Dave Villwock will look to pilot Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser to victory for the Budweiser Columbia Cup. In 2001, Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser driven by Dave Villwock finished second in the final heat after winning his first three heats.

"Things are looking good for the Miss Budweiser team in Tri-Cities," said Villwock."Our strategy will be the same as it has, which is to focus on getting as many points as we can each time we go out. As a veteran team, we're focused on doing the best we can to overcome any obstacles put in our way. Obviously, I hope we have better fortune here than the past couple of years."

Miss Budweiser won the inaugural Tri-Cities event in 1966 with Bill Brow at the controls. The victory also was the first for Miss Budweiser. In total, Bernie Little has 11 victories in Tri-Cities (1966,' 73,' 78,' 87,' 88,' 90,' 92,' 93,' 94,' 98,' 99). Little has 133 career Unlimited Hydroplane victories, 21 national championships and 14 Gold Cups.

Villwock has three career wins in Tri-Cities (1996,' 98 and' 99). In total, Villwock has 38 career Unlimited Hydroplane victories (third on the all-time list), five national championships and five Gold Cups.

Bernie Little will miss Tri-Cities Water Follies-- Miss Budweiser owner Bernie Little is now in his 40th consecutive year of Unlimited Hydroplane racing and in that time has only missed three races. Unfortunately, Little will be unable to make the trip to Washington for the Budweiser Columbia Cup race this weekend. On Doctor's orders, Little continues to take it easy at his Lakeland, Fla., home. Little was hospitalized over the July 4th weekend surrounding an asthma attack and case of pneumonia.

"It's tough to not be there for the fans and to support the Miss Budweiser team," Little said."I've got the greatest team around from a top notch driver to the best bunch of professionals who do a great job keeping the boat running. I'm not positive yet, but I'm hoping to catch up with the team in Seattle as well as my friends and fans who have been so supportive of me as I get my health back to par."

Dave Villwock added,"Bernie is the tree we all lean on. You'd expect for an owner that it would be win, win, win, but he's actually more concerned with my safety and that of the Miss Budweiser team. It shows in the money he invested to develop the self-contained cockpit to improve driver safety. Bernie keeps us all in perspective, helps with strategy and is an important part of each race weekend, needless to say, we're looking forward to getting him back with us for the remainder of the season."

O'Doul's High Points Update-- Dave Villwock leads the O'Doul's National High Points standings by 81 points over Mike Hanson and the U-9 boat. Terry Troxell in the U-99 boat is in third with 370 points, Nate Brown in the U-16 boat is in fourth with 327 points and Mark Tate in the U-2 Boat rounds out the top five with 326 points.

"We're in a pretty good position," said Villwock."It's mid-season, we have two race wins, including a Gold Cup, we're leading in points and the boat is still in one piece, so that's good. However, I'd like to extend that lead this weekend in Tri-Cities."

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