(Evansville, Ind.) - The roar of Unlimited Hydroplanes will be heard next weekend, June 27-29, at Evansville, Ind. for the start of the Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series presented by Boat ShopperÂ® magazine. The Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio...
(Evansville, Ind.) - The roar of Unlimited Hydroplanes will be heard next weekend, June 27-29, at Evansville, Ind. for the start of the Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series presented by Boat Shopper® magazine. The Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio will celebrate its 25th Anniversary with the fastest boats in the world competing on the Ohio River.
"Evansville has been an important part of Unlimited Hydroplane racing for many years," said Bart Garbrecht, CEO of Hydro-Prop. "The teams, sponsors and fans are all anticipating the start of the series and there is no better location than Evansville to begin an action packed season. The Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio will celebrate 25 years of Unlimited racing action and the fans should not be disappointed as a full field of talented drivers and teams will descend upon the Southern Indiana city. The Thornton's Evansville Freedom Festival presented by Chevrolet is an impressive community event and every year we are privileged to be a part of the excitement."
"Over the past two years we have witnessed some of the most competitive and thrilling Unlimited racing in the history of the sport," continued Garbrecht. "The increased parity among the teams is evident due to the rules we have instituted. This season a number of teams have raised the bar and are legitimate challengers to the top teams. There are many interesting stories for this season and a number of surprises are possible. With the impressive debut of the Cooper's new piston powered Unlimited last season and the ever persistent and speedy Unlimited driven by Nate Brown; Dave Villwock and the Miss Budweiser will have a difficult task of defending their championship."
* Piston Power Threatens Turbines The loud noise in the pits late last season was not the sound of turbines but the load thundering of a brand new piston powered Unlimited Hydroplane from Ed Cooper Sr. and Jr. After a long awaited debut, the new turbo-charged Allison powered Unlimited did not disappoint at San Diego when it was the fastest qualifier and won a preliminary heat at the season finale. With a full off-season to work on the boat, the U-3 driven by Mitch Evans could be a formidable opponent to the top turbines on the circuit. With the hometown fans supporting Evans and the lone piston powered Unlimited in the field, the Coopers could produce the first victory for a non-turbine Unlimited since 1989.
* Last Year at Evansville Dave Villwock, driving the Miss Budweiser, won his seventh consecutive Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio, an unprecedented record for Unlimited Hydroplane racing. On his way to victory, Villwock was the third fastest qualifier and won two preliminary heats. Terry Troxell drove Fred Leland's U-99 to a second place finish and Michael Hanson in Jones Racing's U-9 finished third. Additional heat victories were won by Michael Hanson, Nate Brown, Mike Weber and Mark Tate.
* Nate Brown Seeks Victories and a Championship Nate Brown begins the 2003 season with lofty goals of winning races and securing the championship. Brown began his remarkable run on the 2001 west coast swing when he won the last two races of the season. He continued that hot streak in 2002 by having the fastest qualifying time at five of the six events, winning two races and finishing second in the championship. Brown will pilot the Ellstrom family's speedy Miss Elam Plus and is a formidable challenger for the championship.
* Veteran Unlimited Pilot Returns Mark Evans has decided to return to the sport this season after a two-year lay-off. A nine time Unlimited Hydroplane victor, Evans will pilot the U-8 Llumar Window Film for team owner Bill Wurster. During the past two years Evans has ventured into commentating on Unlimited broadcasts and has spent most of his time developing and building a four-seat Unlimited Hydroplane. This off-season, the U-8 Team purchased the Two Wing T-4 Budweiser Hydroplane and anticipates a successful year on the water.
* Dave Villwock and Miss Budweiser to Defend Championship For the first time in the history of the Miss Budweiser, the team enters the beginning of the Unlimited Hydroplane Series without its legendary team owner, Bernie Little, who passed away in April. The team ownership has thus been delegated to his son, Joe, who is ready and willing for the challenge. After 22 World Championships and 134 career victories, Joe takes over the reigns of the most successful Unlimited team in history. Dave Villwock will attempt to defend the championship and add to the Miss Budweiser records as he seeks his seventh drivers' championship.
* Terry Troxell Switches Teams Up and coming Unlimited driver, Terry Troxell, has decided to switch teams this year and will pilot Jim Harvey's U-2 Miss Trendwest. Troxell drove Fred Leland's U-99 for the past two seasons and produced one victory and numerous heat wins. Troxell began last season with three consecutive second place finishes marking him as a championship threat. In 2003, Troxell seeks his second career victory and sixth for Jim Harvey.
* Michael Hanson Looks for Two in a Row Michael Hanson won the 2002 season finale in San Diego and will look for two wins in a row aboard his U-9. Hanson also had two third place finishes last year while winning six preliminary heats enabling him to finish third in the championship. Hanson's two victories over the past two years were the first two for team owners Mike and Lori Jones.
* Full Field Awaits Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio In addition to the drivers mentioned above, a number of talented professional boat racers will compete at Evansville including Steve David (U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto); Mike Weber (U-10 Miss EMCOR); Dr. Ken Muscatel (U-25 Superior Racing) and Greg Hopp (U-100 Leland Racing).
* Thorntons Evansville Freedom Festival presented by Chevrolet In addition to the Unlimited Hydroplane race, the Thorntons Evansville Freedom Festival presented by Chevrolet is highlighted by the return of the Blue Angels who will have two days of practice and appearances and two days of outstanding air shows. An assortment of other activities include: a fireworks spectacular, Hydroplane pit tours, hot air balloon glow at the airport, U.S. Air Force F16 Simulator, a Laser Light Show and much more.
Practice and qualifying for the Unlimited Hydroplanes will begin Friday, June 27 with the finals scheduled for Sunday, June 29. The Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio race will be televised on SPEED Channel on Sunday, July 13 at 1:30 PM (EDT).