HPROP: San Diego season finale preview

(San Diego, Calif.) - The Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series presented by Boat Shopper® magazine will conclude its season next weekend on beautiful Mission Bay at the Washington Mutual San Diego Thunderboat Regatta (September 19-22). In...

(San Diego, Calif.) - The Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series presented by Boat Shopper® magazine will conclude its season next weekend on beautiful Mission Bay at the Washington Mutual San Diego Thunderboat Regatta (September 19-22). In addition to an expected thrilling weekend of Unlimited action for the Budweiser Bill Muncey Cup, the event will also determine the Unlimited Hydroplane World Champion.

"After an exciting season on the water, it all comes down to the season finale in San Diego," said Bart Garbrecht, CEO of Hydro-Prop. "Unlimited Hydroplane fans have been treated to another exciting racing season. A lot of the teams stepped up their programs this year and it has definitely shown in the competitive racing. All season long we have witnessed intense battling for lanes, close qualifying speeds and deck-to-deck racing and we should continue to see those at San Diego."

"A lot of things are on the line next weekend at San Diego," continued Garbrecht. "Besides bragging rights for the entire off-season, a competitive championship will be decided as well as the top five places in the championship. The season finale is very important to all teams as it can set the tone for the off-season. This was witnessed last year in San Diego when Mitch Evans and the U-3 had a great weekend with their new hull. Being the top qualifier, winning a preliminary heat and finishing on the podium gave them the confidence they needed for this season. That confidence led to two victories this season including the APBA Gold Cup. The season might end in San Diego, but it only ends on the water. The hard part starts for the teams as they begin preparations for next season."

* Villwock Secures Drivers Championship, Miss Budweiser Close to Securing World Championship

Heading into the season finale at San Diego, Mark Evans is the only Unlimited pilot that has a mathematical chance of challenging Dave Villwock for the Drivers' Championship. Unfortunately, Mark fractured his leg in a spectacular flip in Detroit and will be sidelined for the San Diego race. Therefore, Villwock will secure his seventh drivers' championship. The Miss Budweiser is also close to securing the O'Doul's High Points World Championship. The U-8 LLumar Window Film is the only team that can catch the Miss Budweiser, but it would take a perfect weekend. Therefore, the championship seems destined to the Miss Budweiser. The Championship would be the 23rd for the Miss Budweiser but the first for new team owner, Joe Little.

* Parity Present in Detroit's Qualifying Ladder

At the Chrysler-Jeep Superstores APBA/Hydro-Prop Gold Cup in August, a remarkable qualifying effort was produced. The top five hulls qualified within 1.153 miles per hour of each other. Mark Evans was the top qualifier with a speed of 159.514 mph and Dave Villwock was fifth with a speed of 158.361 mph. "That is parity," said Bart Garbrecht. "We have seen competitive racing all year, but when the boats actually qualify that close, it definitely sends the message home that this series is intense."

* U-8 Llumar Window Film Update

The U-8 Llumar Window Film recently announced they will compete at San Diego and are in the midst of repairing the damage suffered when Mark Evans blew over during a preliminary heat in Detroit. In addition, the team announced that Nate Brown will fill in for the injured Mark Evans for the event. Brown agreed to pilot the U-8 after Eric Ellstrom announced that the U-16 Miss Elam Plus would not compete at San Diego due to severe damage suffered to the hull in Detroit.

* Full Field Awaits Season Finale

A full field of professional Unlimited Hydroplane drivers are set to race the season finale on beautiful Mission Bay including, Dave Villwock, Terry Troxell, Mitch Evans, Steve David, Michael Hanson, Mike Weber, Nate Brown, Dr. Ken Muscatel and JW Myers.

* Bernie Little Dedication at San Diego

The Washington Mutual San Diego Thunderboat Regatta will have a special dedication to the late Miss Budweiser team owner, Bernie Little. Bernie will be memorialized with the unveiling of a permanent bench erected in Mission Bay Park. Bernie is the only non-San Diegan so honored.

* Mitch Evans Aims for More Records

Mitch Evans, who drives the only piston-powered Unlimited Hydroplane in the series, will attempt to raise his lap-speed record at San Diego. Evans currently holds the fastest lap ever recorded by a piston-powered Unlimited on both a 2-mile and 2.5-mile course. Evans raised the 2.5-mile record with a speed of 160.370 miles per hour last year at San Diego. He also raised the 2-mile record a few weeks ago at Seattle with a speed of 153.266 mph.

* Last Year at San Diego

Michael Hanson took control of the final last year at San Diego and cruised to his fourth career win. Nate Brown followed in second and Mitch Evans drove his piston-powered Unlimited to his first podium finish of the season.

* Past San Diego Winners

Dave Villwock, Michael Hanson and Nate Brown have all secured victories on Mission Bay. Villwock has won a record five times at San Diego, Hanson has two victories and Brown has one win.

* History of San Diego, Calif.

o 2003 marks the 38th year of Unlimited Hydroplane racing at Mission Bay in San Diego.

o First race was held in 1964 and was called the San Diego Cup. Jim Herrington's Mariner Too, driven by Warner Gardner, took the win.

o The event is San Diego's largest annual sports competition and attracts more than 150,000 people during the three-day event.

o More than 1,000 community volunteers donate time and effort each year to stage the races.

o Miss Budweiser won its first San Diego race in 1966 with Bill Brow. Miss Budweiser has won San Diego a record 13 times.

o San Diego has hosted four APBA Gold Cups (1969, 1970, 1987, 1989) with Miss Budweiser winning three out of four. Miss Budweiser took the Gold Cups with three different drivers, Bill Sterett, Dean Chenoweth and Tom D'Eath. Chip Hanauer took the other victory aboard Miller American in 1987.

o The legendary Bill Muncey, a San Diego native, won San Diego two times.

o Dave Villwock has the most career victories at San Diego with five wins which includes his first career Unlimited victory in 1992 aboard Coors Dry.

o Michael Hanson's first career Unlimited victory also was at San Diego in 1993 aboard Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. The win marked the first time in Unlimited history that a race was won by the trailer boat.

o Last year at San Diego, Michael Hanson won his fourth career race with Jones Racing.

Practice and qualifying will begin for the Washington Mutual San Diego Thunderboat Regatta Friday, September 19 with the finals scheduled for Sunday, September 22. The Washington Mutual San Diego Thunderboat Regatta will be televised on SPEED Channel on Sunday, October 5 at 2:00 PM (EDT).


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Series Boat
Drivers Mitch Evans