HPROP: Columbia Cup: Race report

Nate Brown wins Budweiser Columbia Cup at Tri-Cities, Washington; championship battle tightens. (Tri-Cities, Wash.) - Nate Brown, Preston, Wash., won today's Budweiser Columbia Cup at Tri-Cities, Wash., the fourth race of the Budweiser Unlimited...

Nate Brown wins Budweiser Columbia Cup at Tri-Cities, Washington; championship battle tightens.

(Tri-Cities, Wash.) - Nate Brown, Preston, Wash., won today's Budweiser Columbia Cup at Tri-Cities, Wash., the fourth race of the Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series.

Brown, driving the U-16 Miss Elam Plus for the Ellstrom family, secured his fourth career win and second this season. Brown captured the Budweiser Madison Regatta earlier this year and the Seattle and San Diego race in 2001. He also has been the top qualifier at five events in a row. The win also marked the fifth career victory for the Ellstrom family.

Brown and Dave Villwock in the U-1 Miss Budweiser had a tremendous battle for the lead on the first lap of the final. The fastest two boats throughout the season have become rivals and that was evident today. Both drivers battled each other through the rough and windy conditions until Villwock ran up the back end of Brown's roostertail causing him to miss two buoys in turn one and was assessed a one lap penalty ending his chance at the victory.

Behind Brown on the course was Mark Tate in the U-2 Miss Trendwest who was trying to hold off Steve David in the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto and Michael Hanson in the U-9 Jack-sons Sports Bar. Tate could not catch Brown and ended up finishing in second while David took third. Rounding out the top five were Michael Hanson in fourth and Jimmy King in the U-8 Llumar Window Film in fifth.

As Brown took the checkered flag, Dr. Ken Muscatel in the U-25 Silver Dollar Casino had a scary ride as his boat flipped. Muscatel was examined by the medical staff and released with only some bumps and bruises.

"This team is on an incredible roll," said Brown. "We have always known that as soon as we finished work on this boat last year, we would be legitimate contenders at every race. We have definitely proved to the entire Unlimited Hydroplane racing community that we are capable of winning races and winning a championship."

"Winning races and challenging Dave Villwock and the Miss Budweiser for the championship was one goal that I set for myself before the season started," continued Brown. "We have taken care of winning races, now we have to concentrate on gaining enough points in the last two races to overtake Villwock for the championship. Hopefully today's win will propel us to more victories and the championship that the Ellstrom family covets."

* O'Doul's High Point World Championship Standings

Dave Villwock still leads in the O'Doul's National High Points Championship standings. Villwock leads the championship with 554 points over Michael Hanson with 496 points and Nate Brown with 487. Mark Tate currently sits in fourth with 438 points and Terry Troxell has 432 points.

* Competitive Preliminary Heats

For the fourth time this season, the preliminary heats were full of action and deck-to-deck competitive racing. There were five different heat winners at Tri-Cities, which included a heat victory for Jimmy King, the ninth Unlimited driver to win a heat this year. The topic around Tri-Cities was the terrific racing that was evident in this year's heats. Some people remarked it was the best Unlimited racing action they had ever seen.

*       Budweiser Columbia Cup Results:

1. U-16 Miss Elam Plus, Nate Brown
2. U-2 Miss Trendwest, Mark Tate
3. U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
4. U-9 Jack-sons Sports Bar, Michael Hanson
5. U-8 LLumar Window Film, Jimmy King
6. U-1 Miss Budweiser, Dave Villwock
7. U-25 Silver Dollar Casino, Dr. Ken Muscatel

Did Not Make Final:
U-100 Auburn Chevrolet American Pride, Greg Hopp
U-99 Miss Fairweather Masonry, Terry Troxell
U-10 Miss EMCOR, Mike Weber
U-3 Vacationville.com, Mitch Evans

The Budweiser Columbia Cup will be televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, August 18 at 1:30 PM (EDT).

* Unlimited Hydroplane Fleet Set to Battle for General Motors Cup

The Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series stays in the state of Washington for the General Motors Cup at Seattle's SEAFAIR on August 2-4. For the past 52 years, SEAFAIR and Lake Washington have witnessed some of the best Unlimited Hydroplane racing in history.

Headquartered in Lake Hamilton, Fla., HYDRO-PROP combines Unlimited Hydroplanes, the biggest, fastest racing boats in the world, with Formula One, the most versatile, fastest accelerating and fastest turning boats in the world. HYDRO-PROP events are held throughout North America and are the only forms of Professional Powerboat Racing televised on ESPN2. For more information on HYDRO-PROP, visit www.hydroprop.com


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Series Boat
Drivers Mitch Evans