Miss Budweiser team to continue under direction of Joe Little Team pays tribute to Bernie Little and looks to the 2003 season for a 23rd World Championship SEATTLE, Wash., May 20, 2003 -- The Miss Budweiser team announced today that it will be...
Miss Budweiser team to continue under direction of Joe Little
Team pays tribute to Bernie Little and looks to the 2003 season for a 23rd World Championship
SEATTLE, Wash., May 20, 2003 -- The Miss Budweiser team announced today that it will be business as usual this year after Unlimited Hydroplane racing icon and team owner Bernie Little passed away on April 25, 2003. The team will be under the direction of Joseph Little, president of Bernie Little Distributors and vice president of Hydroplanes Inc.; thus ushering in the next generation of Unlimited Hydroplane leadership.
Joseph (Joe) Little, 45, son of Jane and Bernie Little, has been around the Unlimited Hydroplane circuit most of his life and now assumes the team ownership responsibilities. Dave Villwock, driver and team manager will continue his role with the team for the seventh consecutive season. Mark Smith returns as the crew chief of the Miss Budweiser for his sixth year.
"The Miss Budweiser team is here to stay," said Little. "Dad put the procedures and processes in place so that the team could continue even when he was no longer able to run things. Unlimited competition was dad's passion. He was larger than life in the sport. I can't be my dad; I can only be myself. My goal is to provide the best leadership, direction and support to the team so we can continue to win races and show value to our great sponsor, Anheuser-Busch."
Anheuser-Busch has renewed its commitment to sponsor the team for the 41st consecutive year, making it the longest running sponsorship in motorsports history.
"Bernie Little and my father, August Busch III, forged a friendship and one of the most successful sponsor and team relationships in history," said August Busch IV, president of Anheuser-Busch. "Joe Little and I have known each other since we were kids and we are going to continue the long and proud tradition of the Miss Budweiser team with a new generation of passion, competition and success."
Little said, "I look forward to what our generation can add to the sport. Working with August Busch IV, Anheuser-Busch and the Miss Budweiser team will be a rewarding experience. However, we'll always remember it as Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser since he started all this business 41 years ago."
Returning for its 41st consecutive year of competition, the Miss Budweiser team has a record in Unlimited Hydroplane racing that is unrivaled with 134 victories, 22 world championships and 14 APBA Gold Cups. The team has entered a record 354 races and finished in the top three a total of 230 times in 40 years of competition. The crew of the Miss Budweiser has a combined 286 years of experience.
"We can't replace Bernie, but he wouldn't want us walking around looking at our feet and kicking rocks," said Villwock. "Bernie would want us to go out and be all we can be, and that's what we are going to do this season. Bernie taught us well. He wanted us to move forward and the best way we can honor his spirit is to go out and win races."
Villwock, who has been racing Unlimited Hydroplanes since 1992, has 39 wins, six series championships and five APBA Gold Cups to his credit.
"The other teams should not discount us this year," Villwock said. "This Miss Budweiser team is here to compete. Bernie Little never taught us how to play defense, and Joe Little is working from the same playbook, so we won't. Every heat and every race will be run with the goal of victory. We want to win, pure and simple."
BERNIE LITTLE'S MISS BUDWEISER: BY THE NUMBERS
* 22 -- Unlimited Hydroplane World and National Championships.
* 39 -- Career victories for Miss Budweiser driver, Dave Villwock.
* 41 -- Consecutive years of Unlimited hydroplane competition.
* 41 -- Consecutive years Anheuser-Busch has sponsored the Miss Budweiser.
* 134 -- Career victories for the Miss Budweiser team since 1963.
* 286 -- Years of combined experience on the Miss Budweiser team.
* 354 - Races that the Miss Budweiser has entered.
* 230 -- Number of top three finishes in 40 years of competition.
* 2002 -- Bernie Little's 40th consecutive year of competition.
* 2003 -- A new generation takes charge with Joe Little.