1988 Las Vegas Silver Cup
Lake Mead, Las Vegas NV, September 26, 1988

A Triple Win for Budweiser

The 1988 Season Ends in Controversy

By Gary Clouse

It seems the unlimiteds can't end a season without some controversy. After the dust had settled September 26, Miss Budweiser, and Tom D'Eath had won the Las Vegas Silver Cup, the high-point championship, and the driving championship.

As the final heat approached, the high-point championship already had been decided. Through consistent performance and to the surprise of nobody, Miss Budweiser had clinched Bernie Little's 10th high-point title at the end of heat 2-B. What was left to decide, however, was more than the Silver Cup. Tom D'Eath and Scott Pierce were separated by only 69 points. Whichever of those two drivers finished ahead of the other would be the 1988 driver champion.

Just before the final heat one-minute gun, Tom D'Eath led the field out of the first turn in lane three. Chip Hanauer trailed in lane two, and Scott Pierce seemed to be getting the advantage in lane one. As the one-minute gun fired, Tom had moved to lane one, Pierce was in lane two, and Chip was dead in the water. After the heat, Chip Hanauer and Fran Muncey filed official protests that charged Tom D'Eath in Miss Budweiser had cut off Miller High Life without having the required five-boat-length overlap. Although none of the officials could deny the incident took place, no call was made because the officials in the helicopter were out of position.

After that incident, the start almost was predictable. Bud nailed it in lane one and had a sizable lead into the first turn. Mr. Pringle's was well back at the start in lane two but through superior boat speed had taken second place by the middle of the backstretch. Larry Lauterbach in The Vantage Ultra and George Woods in Oh Boy! Oberto crossed the starting line with Miss Budweiser but could not accelerate with D'Eath. Woods settled into fourth position (where he finished) and Lauterbach, after losing second place to Mr. Pringles, pushed Pierce all the way to the finish.

At the end of the five-lap final, Miss Budweiser had a comfortable lead and won the Budweiser Las Vegas Silver Cup. During the last lap, Scott Pierce and Larry Lauterbach came up on Mitch Evans in the substitute Miss Madison. Scott chose to take him on the outside, which left the inside lanes to Larry. Lauterbach took full advantage of the situation and snatched second place in the run to the finish line.

Final heat order of finish: Miss Budweiser 121.957, The Vantage Ultra 117.915, Mr. Pringle's 117.677, Oh Boy! Oberto 103.621, Miss Madison 93.422, Miss Stroh's Light 72.334, Miller High Life DNS.

* * *


Each day on Lake Mead brought different course conditions. In the morning of the first of two days of qualifying, we found just about the best water we would see all weekend. Miss Budweiser was the first out and ran 142.198 — a course record. Miller High Life also put in a good run that morning, and upped the record to 143.198. Many were surprised when Mr. Pringle's went out and ran 144.115. Budweiser tried in vain to beat Pringle's new record and almost did with a 145 on Friday. Unfortunately for Bernie, there was a buoy loose on the course, and the run didn't count.

On Saturday, the unqualified boats managed to get into the field. Oh Boy! Oberto qualified at 109.639 and Stroh Light came in with a 101.337. Unlike at most courses, boat traffic on Lake Mead is unrestricted, which created rough water conditions Saturday morning. Not one of the Friday qualifiers was able to improve its time because of the bad conditions. Although the course remained open, no further qualifications were attempted after the wind came up at noon.







Mr. Pringle's Scott Pierce




Miller High Life Chip Hanauer




Miss Budweiser Tom D'Eath




The Vantage Ultra Larry Lauterbach




Miss Madison Mitch Evans




Oh Boy! Oberto George Woods

No time



Miss Mid-Mark Distributing Jack Barrie


No time


Miss Paddock Pools Jerry Hopp




Pocketsavers Plus Steve David


No time


Miss Stroh Light Wheeler Baker

No time


HEAT 1-A (first running) Officials wanted to get the race in before the winds came up, so the starting time for 1-A was moved up two hours to 10 a.m. That was the plan, but thanks to Mid-Mark Dist. (U-77) it didn't work out that way. The engine blew its blower in the middle of turn one and the heat had to be stopped before the starting gun fired.

HEAT 1-B Because of the stoppage of heat 1-A, heat 1-B went on at 10:30 a.m. The water was rough, not from the wind, but from all the swells kicked up by big boats running around the lake. Larry Lauterbach, driver of The Vantage Ultra, always has said he likes to run the inside of the course. In this heat he had his chance. Larry hit the start first on the inside and never was headed. Scott Pierce in Mr.Pringles tried to run him down to no avail. We also had some piston excitement in heat 1-B. Thanks to an ill-running Allison in the substitute Miss Madison, Wheeler Baker in Miss Stroh Light drove around Mitch Evans to take third. Stroh Light scored her first points of the year with the finish. Jerry Hopp in Paddock Pools ended his season in this heat when he threw a blade that tore up a gear box. It could not be fixed, and Thor Racing was forced to withdraw.

Heat 1-B order of finish: Vantage Ultra 124.548, Pringle's 120.662, Stroh Light 91.935, Madison 67.305, Miss Paddock Pools DNF.

HEAT 1-A (second running)

The second attempt at running heat 1-A was successful. It got off at 11 a.m., and the expected showdown between Bud and Miller netted some unusual results. Chip in Miller grabbed the lead at the start and never was challenged by the conservative- running Miss Budweiser. Oberto ran a conservative race of its own. Pocketsavers Plus, like Paddock Pools, threw a blade and failed to finish. Jack Barrie was disqualified from this section because he caused the stoppage of the initial heat 1-A.

Heat 1-A order of finish: Miller 117.895, Budweiser 110.514, Oberto 92-998, Pocketsavers Plus DNF, Miss Mid-Mark Dist. DNS.

HEAT 2-A (first running)

As Miller, Vantage, Oberto, and U-77 Mid-Mark Dist. headed out for the running of heat 2-A, Stroh Light sat on its trailer without an engine capable of completing the heat. The team must have been living under a lucky star. As the one-minute gun approached, the lake had filled with white caps, and the race was red-flagged. What followed was a lot of tense waiting. The race was postponed to Monday at 3 p.m.

HEAT 2-A (second running)

Again, officials tried to beat the wind by rescheduling the race for 9 a.m. Lake Mead decided to be good Monday morning. There were no big pleasure boats roughing up the water, and there was no wind (yet). 2-A turned out to be a showdown between The Vantage Ultra and Miller High Life. Larry Lauterbach in Vantage grabbed the lead at the start, while Chip Hanauer in Miller put the power to his craft to try to run Vantage down. He had to fly the boat a few times, but Chip finally caught and passed Lauterbach. Oberto was third and Stroh Light .finished fourth. Jack Barrie in U-77 Mid-Mark Dist. continued to have starting trouble and did not get out on the course.

Heat 2-A order of finish: Miller 130.422, Vantage Ultra 129.582, Oberto 106.184, Stroh Light 96.517, Mid-Mark Dist. DNS.


The first showdown between Tom D'Eath in Miss Budweiser and Scott Pierce in Mr. Pringle's took place in record fashion. D'Eath nailed the start in lane one. Pierce was well back but was at full speed when he hit the line. All season, we have seen D'Eath in the Bud go only fast enough to win. This time, he was pushed to a new world-record competition lap of 139.130. Pierce in Pringle's seemed to gain in the straight-aways but lost ground an every turn on the outside. Miss Budweiser was pushed all the way to the finish and set a competition course record in capturing the win.

Heat 2-B order of finish: Budweiser 134232, Pringle's 131.115, Madison 106228, Pocketsavers 94.628.


The new competition record set by Tom D'Eath didn't last long, Miss Budweiser and Mr. Pringle's met again in heat 3-A. At the start, Budweiser and Pringle's crossed the line together — Pierce on the inside and D'Eath on the outside. To the surprise of many including me, Scott Pierce in Mr. Pringle's beat Tom D'Eath in Miss Budweiser to the first turn. By the time they hit the backstretch, Pierce had a sizable lead. D'Eath kept the heat on, but Mr. Pringle's didn't fade or falter and won. Mid-Mark Dist. continued to have the same starting problems and never left the dock.

Heat 3-A order of finish: Pringle's, 134.785, Budweiser 130.983, Vantage Ultra 123.398, Madison 103.157, Mid-Mark Dist. DNS.

HEAT 3-B (first running)

The first running of heat 3-B featured a sterling performance (as long as it lasted) by Rookie of the Year candidate Steve David in Pocketsavers Plus. U-4 nailed the start and beat Miller and Oberto to the first turn. As they came out of the first turn and headed down the backstretch, David actually stayed close to Miller until the U-4 blew up. David suffered minor flash burns to the face, and his glory run — and the heat — ended when he jumped into Lake Mead.

HEAT 3-B (second running)

The second running of heat 3-B started with what George Woods later would describe as "brain fade." He jumped the gun and, because he had to run an extra lap, was beaten for second place by Wheeler Baker in Stroh Light.

Heat 3-B order of finish: Miller 111.705, Stroh Light 96.697, Oberto 81.379, Pocketsavers DNS.

THE FINAL HEAT (first attempt)

As the final heat approached, we again felt mid-day winds, and the lake was covered with white caps. Another delay.

When the final heat finally was run, Bernie Little had his 10th national championship, Tom D'Eath got his first driving championship, and the Miss Budweiser Racing Team went home with the Silver Cup. For the second-straight week, Mr. Pringle's seemed to have the field covered but came up short. The race and season that didn't seem to want to end finally did with Budweiser still the King of Boats.

(Reprinted with permission from the Unlimited NewsJournal, October 1988)

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