1995 Thunder on the Ohio
Ohio River, Evansville IN, June 25, 1995


EVANSVILLE (June 25) -- Pontiac's Thunder On the Ohio proved an even more popular event than in recent years, largely because some mystery enveloped the Miss Budweiser camp. The Bud had dominated recent events here to the point that the citizenry was adopting a ho-hum attitude. But when Hanauer qualified fastest -- and then said his ribs and back were too sore for him to give the race a proper effort -- extra interest quickly surrounded the event. Bernie Little "borrowed" Mark Evans from the Fred Leland camp, put the personable, 38-year-old Wenatchee (Wash.) resident into his "Turbine-3" hull and managed to hold off the field . . . until the final.

After two wins and a second in the preliminary heats, though, the Bud reached a point where it began shedding parts into the Ohio River during the hard- fought championship five-lapper. Chief benefactor was Mark Tate, and he powered his Smokin' Joe's entry right around the limping Bud (which did not finish) to claim the checkered flag ahead of Dave Villwock's red, white and blue PICO and David's black-and-yellow T-PLUS. With Hanauer sidelined, Tate moved ahead in the Eagle Snacks Presents O'Doul's High Point driver point totals and set sail for a second straight individual title. The Bud remained atop the team standings, 5,685 to 5,216, but that lead was diminishing.

A difficult task also was set for the crew of Ken Muscatel's Target Stores (U-14) entry. The boat's entire left sponson and decking came loose while negotiating a turn in Heat 1-B, precipitating a seven-day, around-the-clock repair effort to get it back into racing condition.

(Reprinted from the URC Electronic Thunderletter No. 29 September 28, 1995)

*  *  *

EVANSVILLE, Ind. ( Sunday, June 25) -- Defending world driving champion Mark Tate and his purple-and yellow Smokin' Joe's unlimited hydroplane ran down arch-rival Miss Budweiser, with Mark Evans subbing for the ailing Chip Hanauer, to win the $160,000 Pontiac Thunder On the Ohio race here today.

Hanauer had turned the reins over to Evans, 38, of Wenatchee, Wash., due to persistent pain from a muscle tear in his rib cage. Evans won two preliminary heats and finised secondd in another but Tate, with only three second-place finises in the prelims, was on top when it counted in the winner-take-all, five-lap final around the two-mile Ohio River course.

The Bud roared into an early lead, establishing the heat's fast lap on the second circuit at 145.904, but then suffered a variety of mechanical woes, including a jettisoned fuel tank and some sponson damage. Tate, winner of two "94 races on the Hooters Unlimited Hydroplane Series, took full advantage and raced to the checkered flag ahead of Dave Villwock in the PICO American Dream and Steve David in the ARC Presents T-PLUS Engine Treatment.

The Smokin' Joe's average speed for the final ten miles was 140.855. It is the third boat to win in four 1995 races to date and Tate has vaulted back into the individual Eagle Snacks Presents O'Doul's High Point standings lead with 5,216 points, compared to 4,924 for Villwock and 4,685 for Hanauer. The Miss Budweiser, in quest fo a record 16th world title, remains atop the boat standings at 5,685, with Smokin' Joe's closing in at 5,216.

Ken Muscatel's U-14 Target Stores, while running a strong second in Heat 1B, suffered a huge rip the entire lenght of its left sponson while negotiating the last turn, retiring the boat for the day. It is a possible starter, however, for next Sunday's Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup at Madison, Ind.

How they finished, with average speeds:

HEAT 1A--1. Mark Evans, Wenatchee, Wash., Miss Budweiser, 148.284; 2. Mark Tate, Wayne, Mich., Smokin' Joe's, 144.627; 3. Dave Villwock, Auburn, Wash., PICO American Dream, 138.915; 4. Steve David, Pomano Beach, Fl., ARC Presents T-PLUS, 135.684; 5. Jimmy King, Richmond, Mich., Wellness Plan, 129.156. FAST LAP-- Evans, Budweiser, 150.557 (1st lap).

Heat 1B--1. Mike Hanson, Madison, Ind., Miss Jasper Engines & Transmissions, 135.591; 2. Mitch Evans, Chelan, Wash., Master Tire/Holset Turbo, 122.145; 3. Jerry Hopp, Snohomish, Wash., Miss Busler Enterprises, 121.182; DNF-- Ken Muscatel, Seattle, Target Stores. FAST LAP--Hanson, Jasper, 136.777 (1st lap).

HEAT 2A-- 1. David, ARC/T-PLUS, 147.606; 2. Mark Evans, Budweiser, 141.990; 3. King, Wellness, 130.734; 4. Hanson, Jasper, 125.073. FAST LAP--David, ARC/T-PLUS, 149.301 (2nd lap).

HEAT 2B--1. Villwock, PICO, 143.529; 2. Tate, Smokin' Joe's, 142.869; 3. Hopp, Busler, 119.688; 4. Mitch Evans, Master/Holset, 111.036. FAST LAP --Villwock, PICO, 144.431 (1st lap).

HEAT 3A--1. Mark Evans, Budweiser, 151.578; 2. Tate, Smokin' Joe's, 145.746; 3. David, Arc/T-PLUS, 139.227; 4. Hanson, Jasper, 126.076. FAST LAP-- Mark Evans, Budweiser, 151.740 (3rd lap).

HEAT 3B--1. Villwock, PICO, 133.494; 2. King, Wellness, 131.775; 3. Hopp, Busler, 124.677. DNF-- Mitch Evans, Master/Holset. FAST LAP-- Villwock, PICO, 139.450 (1st lap).

FINAL --- 1. Mark Tate, Smokin' Joe's, 140.855; 2. Dave Villwock, PICO American Dream, 137.495; 3. Steve Bender, ARC Presents T-PLUS Engine Treatment, 134.440; 4. Mike Hanson, Miss Jasper Engines & Transmissions, 122.325; 5. Jerry Hopp, Miss Busler Enterprieses, 98.505. DNF--Jimmy King, Wellness Plan; Mark Evans, Miss Budweiser. FAST LAP- Evans, Miss Budweiser, 145.904 (2nd lap).

EAGLE SNACKS PRESENTS O'DOUL'S HIGH POINTS

(drivers) --

  1. Mark Tate 5,216;
  2. Dave Villwock 4,924;
  3. Chip Hanauer 4,585;
  4. Steve David 4,408;
  5. Mark Evans 3,255;
  6. Mike Hanson 2,284;
  7. Mitch Evans 2,261;
  8. Jerry Hopp 1,521;
  9. Scott Pierce1,341;
  10. Ken Muscatel 978;
  11. Jimmy King 652;
  12. Tom Hindley 525.

(boats) --

  1. Miss Budweiser 5,685;
  2. Smokin' Joe's 5,216;
  3. PICO American Dream 4,924;
  4. T-PLUS Engine Treatment 4,408;
  5. The Wellness Plan 2,680;
  6. Miss Jasper Engines & Transmissions 2,284;
  7. Master Tire/Holset Turbo 2,261;
  8. Miss Busler Enterprieses 1,521;
  9. Miss D.O.C./ACUVUE 1,341;
  10. Target Stores 978.

(Reprinted from the Electronic URC Hydroletter, Vol. 1, no. 16 June 29, 1995)


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