1986 Thunder on the Ohio
Ohio River, Evansville IN, July 13, 1986

Bud Evens The Score At Evansville
By Bill Curry

Jim Kropfeld and the turbine-powered Miss Budweiser waited till the end of lap four to pull out a nine-second victory over Tom D'Eath and the Spirit of America in Evansville's Thunder On the Ohio race.

D'Eath, made a perfect start, and led the field for three laps, while three turbine hydros Miss Budweiser, Miss 7-Eleven, and Miller American gave chase. D'Eath turned a 125.566 mph first lap to lead second-place Kropfeld by nearly five seconds.

Kropfeld gradually caught D'Eath and, coming down the front chute on the Ohio River course, made the pass on the fourth lap.

D'Eath had to settle for runner-up honors in his Rolls-Royce Merlin powered hull. Steve Reynolds took over third spot in the first lap in his 7-Eleven but was unable to catch the leaders.

Last year's winner, Chip Hanauer in the Miller American, suffered hull damage in the first lap of the Final which affected the boat's ability to steer. Still, Hanauer was able to hold on to fourth position.

Chugging along in fifth was Todd Yarling in the Risley's Express. Even farther behind was Jack Schafer in Ed Cooper's Miss Freedom Festival or at least that's what it was called, since no name appeared on the hull.

Preliminary action started off with Kropfeld and the Bud taking the inside lane in Heat 1A and leading from wire to wire. The Bud's performance snapped Chip Hanauer's eight-heat win streak. Miller American finished second, while Yarling finished a distant third in the Risley's Express. George Johnson in the Oh Boy! Oberto failed to complete the heat. Bud's average speed was 128.755 mph.

Heat 1B saw D'Eath and his Spirit of America get disqualified for cutting off the field. D'Eath didn't see it that way but the URC referees did. Reynolds picked up the victory by running first in the 7-Eleven for the entire distance. Ron Snyder ran second in the Miss Madison, and Jack Schafer was third in the Miss Freedom Festival. Miss 7-Eleven averaged 118.460 mph for the heat.

Heat 2A was won by Kropfeld in the Miss Budweiser. The restart was caused when Miss Madison driver Ron Snyder was thrown out of the boat in the initial running of the heat. (Snyder was treated for injuries to his neck, right shoulder and eye before being released. He returned to the race course before the event was completed.) D'Eath was out front in the first running, but it was all Bud in the rerun. D'Eath settled for second and Yarling third in the Risley's Express. Bud averaged 122.372 mph for the heat.

Heat 2B was a wire-to-wire win for Hanauer in his Miller American. Reynolds trailed along in second while Schafer ran third. Oh Boy! Oberto sat out the heat with a broken turbocharger. Hanauer averaged 125.137 mph for the heat.

Also in attendance at Evansville was Thor Racing Team's U-7, driven by Jerry Hopp, but for the fourth race in a row the hydro was unable to qualify. With the two beer-turbine boats winning two races each and nobody doing anything else, action can only heat up out west! D'Eath in The Squire Shop is mad at just about everyone and wants to win in the worst way. Reynolds and his 7-Eleven have been a major disappointment in the first four races and has to improve. And with several added west-coast hydros, the fans should be treated to a lot more action!

Thunder On the Ohio
Final Standings

Miss Budweiser



Spirit of America



Miss 7-Eleven



Miller American



Risley's Express



Miss Freedom Festival



(Reprinted from the Unlimited NewsJournal, August 1986)

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