(Lake Hamilton, Fla.) - HYDRO-PROP, Inc. announced today that thirteen drivers will compete during the 2001 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series Presented by Laughlin. "We truly have an outstanding group of drivers who will compete ...
(Lake Hamilton, Fla.) - HYDRO-PROP, Inc. announced today that thirteen drivers will compete during the 2001 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series Presented by Laughlin.
"We truly have an outstanding group of drivers who will compete head-to-head this season in the Unlimited Hydroplane Series," said Gary Garbrecht, President of HYDRO-PROP. "Any one of these professionals is capable of winning races, which will generate tremendous excitement and interest for the fans."
Unlimited Hydroplane Champion Dave Villwock will return for his fifth season in the cockpit of Bernie Little's U-1 Miss Budweiser to defend his championship in the 2001 season. Villwock won six of seven races including the APBA Gold Cup on his way to securing his fourth World Championship last year. With 35 wins, Villwock is currently third on the all-time Unlimited Hydroplane victories list. This season he will attempt to add to Bernie Little's record of career victories (130) and to secure Little's 21st World Championship.
Jim Harvey Motorsports announced that veteran Unlimited Hydroplane racer Scott Pierce will come out of retirement to drive Harvey's U-2 for the 2001 season. Pierce retired from the sport in 1997 after an accident in Detroit. A 17-year veteran of Unlimited's, Pierce has seven career victories and won the World Championship in 1991 with the Miss Budweiser team.
Mitch Evans will once again drive the lone piston-powered Unlimited Hydroplane for the 2001 season. Owned by Ed Cooper Sr. and Jr., the U-3 entertains the crowd at each race as fans love to hear the roar of its turbo-charged Allison aircraft engine as it thunders along the water. Evans has spent most of his career driving for the Coopers and holds the world piston-powered lap speed record of 148.410 mph. Evans' one career victory came in 1989 at the Tri-Cities Columbia Cup driving for the Coopers.
Miss Madison, the world's only community-owned Unlimited Hydroplane, will be sponsored by the Oberto Sausage Company for the upcoming season and will compete as the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto. Steve David has been selected to pilot the U-6 throughout the season. A veteran boat racer with more than 250 victories, David broke into the Unlimited ranks in 1988, winning Rookie of the Year honors. David has three career Unlimited victories. In 2001, the U-6 extends its' record of consecutive Unlimited Hydroplane seasons to 41.
Bill Wurster, owner of the U-8 LLumar Window Film, has signed Jimmy King to drive the U-8 for another season. King started his Unlimited Hydroplane driving career in 1994 and won Rookie of the Year honors. Last season, King drove the U-8 to a fourth place finish at Evansville, Ind. and a fifth place finish at Madison, Ind. He finished eighth in the driver's championship.
For the third consecutive year, Michael Hanson will drive the U-9 for the Jones Racing Team. Hanson won four preliminary heats and finished fourth overall in the driver's championship last season. Hanson, who has two career Unlimited victories to his credit, had his best finish last year at Seattle, Wash. where he was the runner-up. Hanson secured an additional podium at Madison, Ind. where he placed third.
Mark Weber, owner of two career Unlimited victories, will again pilot the U-10 Miss Emcor for USA Racing Partners in 2001. Weber won seven heats last season and secured three podium finishes, which included a second at the Detroit APBA Gold Cup and at Madison, Ind. These results enabled Weber to finish second in the driver's championship.
After securing their first career Unlimited Hydroplane victory last season at Tri-Cities, Wash., the Ellstrom family has chosen Nate Brown to pilot the U-16 Miss E-Lam Plus for this season. Having driven for the team in 1996, Brown is no stranger to the U-16 family. He competed last year behind the wheel of the Miss Madison, taking over driving duties for Charley Wiggins after he retired. Brown was able to win two heats and finished third twice last season. He is a former Unlimited Hydroplane Rookie of the Year and looks to bring the Ellstrom family their second victory.
Longtime Unlimited Hydroplane owner Bob Fendler returns to the sport with a limited schedule for 2001. Fendler has selected Jerry Hale to pilot the U-19 for Stealth Racing. Hale's boat racing career dates back to the 1960s and includes a 6-Litre Class World Championship in 1992. He drove his first Unlimited race in 1997, finishing fifth.
The U-20 Jeronimo was acquired by TM Enterprises of Hermiston, Ore. this past off-season and subsequently became the first Oregon-based Unlimited Hydroplane team in the modern era. U-20 Jeronimo Team Manager Terry Martin selected R.W. "Dick" Lynch to drive this season. Lynch may be an Unlimited Hydroplane rookie driver, but he's no rookie in the sport of hydroplane racing with more than 20 years of limited inboard experience.
The U-25 Superior Racing team owned and driven by Dr. Ken Muscatel, the 1991 Unlimited Hydroplane Rookie of the Year, is eagerly looking forward to the 2001 Unlimited Hydroplane season. The team purchased the former Truck Gear hull, which was last run in 1997, and subsequently made some modifications to the hull. Along with his duties as owner/driver of the U-25, Muscatel serves as president of the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Seattle, Wash. and is a Forensic Psychologist.
Former Unlimited Hydroplane World Champion team owner, Fred Leland, has once again decided to race two hulls for the 2001 season. The U-100 Miss Znetix I will be piloted by the 1999 Rookie of the Year Greg Hopp. The U-99 Miss Znetix II will be driven by Terry Troxell.
In 1999, Hopp finished third in the driver's championship and became the first Unlimited Hydroplane rookie to secure more than 10,000 high points. Last season, Hopp won four preliminary heats and finished seventh in the championship.
Troxell made his Unlimited Hydroplane racing debut last year in Tri-Cities driving the U-99 Miss Znetix II. Troxell won his first Unlimited heat one week later in Seattle and finished fourth in the finals.
Tentative driver line-up for the 2001 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series Presented by Laughlin:
<pre> Hull # Name Driver Owner
U-1 Miss Budweiser Dave Villwock Bernie Little U-2 Jim Harvey Motorsports Scott Pierce Jim Harvey U-3 Cooper's Express Mitch Evans Ed Cooper Sr. & Jr. U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto Steve David City of Madison, Ind. U-8 LLumar Window Film Jimmy King Bill Wurster U-9 Jones Racing Mike Hanson Mike & Lori Jones U-10 Miss Emcor Mark Weber Kim Gregory U-16 Miss E-Lam Plus Nate Brown Ellstrom Family U-19 Stealth Racing Jerry Hale Bob Fendler U-20 Jeronimo R.W. Dick Lynch TM Enterprises U-25 Superior Racing Dr. Ken Muscatel Dr. Ken Muscatel U-99 Miss Znetix II Terry Troxell Fred Leland U-100 Miss Znetix I Greg Hopp Fred Leland