1997 Bayfair Muncey Cup
Mission Bay, San Diego, CA, September 13-14, 1997


First Heat Results

UNLIMITED FIRST HEAT

1A (3 laps, 7.5 miles)

1. Mark Evans, Wenatchee, Wash., PICO American Dream, 150.173
2. Mike Hanson, Madison, Ind., DeWALT Tools, 148.286
3. Nate Brown, Preston, Wash., Deja Vu, 139.488
4. Jimmy King, Richmond, Mich., Miss E-Lam Plus, 138.179
5. Ken Muscatel, Seattle, Wash., Computers & Applications, 129.321
DNS--Mike Jones, Sumner, Wash., Miss Exide (Fast Lap--Evans, 2nd, 154.586)

1B--(3 laps)

1. Mark Tate, Canton, Mich., Close Call, 145.198
2. Steve David, Pompano Beach, Fla., Harvey Motorsports, 139.902
3. Mark Weber, St. Clair Shores, Mich., Miss Budweiser, 133.264
4. Brian Reynolds, Olympia, Wash., Llumar Window Film, 114.886
5. Mitch Evans, Chelan, Wash., Appian Jeronimo (hit buoy, penalized a lap)
DNF--Jerry Hale, Hayward, Calif., Miss Vons (Fast Lap--Mitch Evans, 2nd, 148.773)

SAN DIEGO-- Mark Tate, winless in seven previous races on the JASPER THUNDER TOUR presented by LAS VEGAS for unlimited hydroplanes, charged past series leader Miss Budweiser and won the first preliminary heat of this weekend's Bayfair Bill Muncey Cup on Mission Bay Saturday afternoon. His Close Call Phone Card hydro thus pulled to within just 563 points of Mark Weber's Bud, which suffered throttle problems after qualifying fastest and leading early in the heat.

The other section was won in solid fashion by the Bud's other principal challenger, defending series champion PICO American Dream, driven by Mark Evans. Two more preliminary heats and a winner-take-all final are scheduled for Sunday's wind-up day.

*  *  *

UNLIMITED LIGHTS FIRST HEAT

1A (3 laps, 5 miles)

1. Dennis Macy, Garden City, Mich., The Menace, 87.023
2. R. Scott Schatz, Fontana, Calif., ECI III, 80.254
3. Doug Brow, Sea-Tac, Wash., Pocket Mechanic (1 minute penalty for interference)
DNF-- Dave Bender, El Dorado, Calif., B & B Racing (Fast Lap--Brow, 3rd, 94.132)

1B (3 laps)

1. Randy Haas, Toledo, O., Miss LeRoi, 101.220
2. Bo Schide, Dayton, O., Alamo, 100.948
3. Cal Phipps, Detroit, Mich., Miss LeRoi II, 97.364 (Fast Lap--Haas, 1st, 102.788)

In the Unlimited Light Racing Series preliminary heat, it was the Summer of '96 all over again, with last year's rookie of the year, Dennis Macy, and last year's ULRS driving champ, Randy Haas, receipting for wins in the respective sections.


Miss Bud's Lead Going Flat
By Bill Center

The sharks are getting closer and closer to Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser.

They were on Mission Bay yesterday afternoon, taking another chunk out of what once appeared to be the insurmountable lead Miss Budweiser once held in the point standings.

With Dave Villwock driving, Miss Budweiser won the season's first four races and seemed headed to a 17th national championship.

Then Villwock nearly lost his right hand in a blow-over accident in Tri-Cities, Wash.

And the Budweiser team hasn't been the same since.

After pacing qualifying Friday with a lap of 162.599 mph around the 2.5-mile east Mission Bay course, Miss Budweiser -- the defending San Diego champion -- seemed ready to regain its perch atop the sport.

But the winners of yesterday's heats were Mark Evans in PICO American Dream and Mark Tate in Close Call.

Miss Budweiser was a distant third in the heat won by Tate.

Don't blame driver Mark Weber, however. Weber had Miss Budweiser's nose in front of Close Call in yesterday's second heat as the boats roared through the first turn.

But as Weber pushed the pedal to trim the adjustable front canard on the infamous T-3 hull . . . nothing.

Evidently, a bolt had fallen out of the pedal linkage. Or there was a problem deeper in the linkage. Weber heard both scenarios.

That didn't help him, however, as the turbine-powered, 6,500-pound hydro hurtled into the backstretch at 170 mph and climbing.

Climbing both in speed and vertically.

"I thought the pedal was still working when I came out of the first turn," said Weber.

"Then the boat just took off. I didn't know the canard wasn't working until it wouldn't come down. At that point, I had to back out of it."

Instead of dueling Tate for the heat win, Weber was hanging on. An unlimited at 150 mp;h with its aerodynamic trim stuck in the wrong position can be unnerving even to the most veteran drivers.

Still, Villwock was almost giddy as he greeted Weber in the Budweiser motorcoach after the heat.

"We know what it is and we'll fix it, no problem," said Villwock.

The tone was still upbeat. But the results have to be a concern.

Since Villwock's accident, Miss Budweiser has not reached the finals. After winning 16 straight heats, the winningest team in unlimited history is an also-ran.

Going into today's possible three rounds, Budweiser's lead over Close Call has shrunk to 563 points. Defending national champion PICO is 692 points back.

With 400 points going to the winner of each heat, Budweiser's margin of error has disappeared like the bolt in the canard pedal.

"We're taking out a little at a time," said Evans, who rallied from a bad start in the day's first three-lap heat to score a rare come-from-behind victory over Mike Hanson's DeWALT Tools.

Hanson led throughout the first lap before Evans, who drove Budweiser to victory here last year, ran him down on the backstretch of the second lap.

"I had to work extra hard," said Evans, who delighted in the battle with Hanson. "Going all the way back to small boats, I've had some of my best hook-up-and-run races with Mike."

Tate looked to be in a tougher match before Budweiser's canard stuck in the ready-for-takeoff position.

But Close Call's victory came at a price. The rough water tore up the underside of both transom edges.

"I was pleased with the way the boat ran in these lumpy conditions," said Tate. "Mission Bay is not usually this rough."

And it could be rougher today as the leading edge of Hurricane Linda approaches.

Still, BayFair '97 reckons to be the biggest event since the annual unlimited hydroplane race added Formula Ones and drag boats two years ago and adopted the mantra of "The World Series of Powerboat Racing."

Bigger is better. Even the bigger Qualcomm Stadium for the boat people.

BayFair officials are contemplating a record crowd today because of the local blackout of the Chargers game.

"It's unlikely that many people would bring televisions to the beach," said one official, "but they can carry in radios."

(Reprinted from the San Diego Union-Tribune, Sunday, Sept. 14, 1997)


Second Heat Results

UNLIMITED SECOND HEAT

2A (3 laps, 7.5 miles)

1. Mark Weber, St. Clair Shores, Mich., U-12 Miss Budweiser, 153.495
2. Mark Tate, Canton, Mich., U-10 Close Call, 150.256
3. Steve David, Pompano Beach, Fla., U-2 Harvey Motorsports, 141.892
4. Jerry Hale, Hayward, Calif., U-99 Miss Vons, 138.322
5. Brian Reynolds, Olympia, Wash., U-8 Llumar Window Film, 121.551
DNS--Ken Muscatel, Seattle, Wash., U-12 Computers & Applications

(Fast Lap--Weber, 2nd, 155.699)

2B (3 laps) -- Halted by first-lap accident involving Miss E-Lam Plus.

2B (re-run) (3 laps)

1. Mark Evans, Wenatchee, Wash., U-1 PICO American Dream, 151.621
2. Nate Brown, Preston, Wash., U-4 Deja Vu, 149.720
3. Mike Hanson, Madison, Ind., U-6 DeWALT Tools, 143.683
4. Mitch Evans, Chelan, Wash., U-19 Appian Jeronimo, 142.443
DSQ--Jimmy King, Richmond, Mich., U-16 Miss E-Lam Plus (accident halted original heat)
DNS--Mike Jones, Sumner, Wash., U-9 Miss Exide
(Fast Lap--Evans, 2nd, 155.406)

SAN DIEGO-- A spectacular, airborne launch over a rival's wake sent Jimmy King and the Miss E- Lam Plus some 50 feet in the sky above Mission Bay Sunday afternoon before he and the three-ton unlimited hydroplane crashed, transom first, and luckily landed right-side-up in the first turn of Heat 2B of the Bayfair Bill Muncey Cup. King was unharmed in the accident.

The incident interrupted what otherwise appeared to be a rip-roaring start, with five boats abreast. The re-run heat was more of the same, with Mark Evans and the defending national champion PICO American Dream finally outgunning Nate Brown in the Deja Vu for the victory. Evans, with two heat wins, has 800 points for the event and continues to narrow the O'Doul's high-point race for the season championship.

With rival Mark Tate (Close Call) in the outside, or pace boat, position, Mark Weber wheeled the Miss Budweiser inside of him and secured a roostertail-length victory in Heat 2A. The victory helped make up for a third-place finish in Saturday afternoon's first heat, caused when the Bud's canard failed to work properly. Steve David was home third in the Harvey Motorsports.

Heading into the third heat, set to begin at 3:05 p.m. (PDT), Miss Budweiser has 9,755 points, Close Call 9,092 and PICO 9,060.

Due to the accident, the winner-take-all final has been moved back to 4:45 p.m.

UNLIMITED LIGHTS SECOND HEAT

HEAT TWO (3 laps, 5 miles)

Seven boats scheduled to run together. The field will be minus Dennis Macy's UL-445 hull, beset by motor woes. George Stratton's UL-125 Wild Fire is repaired following some serious rudder bracket damage incurred during Friday testing.

1. Bo Schide, Dayton, O., Alamo, 101.148
2. Randy Haas, Toledo, O., Miss LeRoi, 100.194
3. George Stratton, Las Vegas, Nev., Wild Fire, 99.415
4. Doug Brow, Sea-Tac, Wash., Pocket Mechanic, 89.253
5. Dave Bender, El Dorado, Calif., B&B Racing, 88.363
6. Scott Schatz, Fontana, Calif., ECI III, 82.025
DNF-- Cal Phipps, Detroit, Mich., Miss LeRoi II
(Fast Lap-- Schide, 1st, 101.518)

*  *  *

Third Heat Results

UNLIMITED THIRD HEAT

3A (3 laps, 7.5 miles)

1. Tate, Close Call, 151.358
2. Weber, Miss Budweiser, 148.947
3. David, Harvey Motorsports, 144.270
4. Hale, Miss Vons, 134.052
5. Reynolds, Llumar Window Film, 126.225
DNS--Jones, Miss Exide (Fast Lap--N/A)

3B (3 laps)

1. Mark Evans, PICO American Dream, 149.191
2. Hanson, DeWALT Tools, 148.073
3. Brown, Deja Vu, 147.251
DNS-- Muscatel, Computers & Applications; Mitch Evans, Appian;
(Fast Lap--Evans, 1st. 150.524).

*  *  *

Final Results

UNLIMITED FINAL (5 laps, 12.5 miles)

1. Mark Evans, PICO American Dream, 149.588
2. Mark Tate, Close Call Phone Card, 148.838
3. Mark Weber, Miss Budweiser, 144.796
4. Nate Brown, Deja Vu, 141.777
5. Mike Hanson, DeWALT Tools, 135.832
6. Jerry Hale, Miss Vons, 130.711
DNF-- Steve David, Harvey Motorsports
(Fast Lap-- Evans, 2nd, 150.348).

SAN DIEGO -- Mark Evans and his PICO American Dream continued their late-season charge in the JASPER THUNDER TOUR presented by LAS VEGAS for unlimited hydroplanes Sunday, churning away from chief rivals Mark Tate in Close Call and Mark Weber in Miss Budweiser to record his fourth straight victory.

"I feel the momentum, I feel the energy," cried a victorious Evans, who became the first non-Budweiser driver since Chip Hanauer (Miller American) in 1985 to win four straight among the world's fastest raceboats. Evans now has the lead for the O'Doul's national high-points driving championship, 9,860 to 9,792 for Tate, and PICO is fast closing the once seemingly insurmountable gap between itself (9,860 points) and the Bud (10,280 points).

Weber, the replacement driver for the injured Dave Villwock, finished third behind Tate as a throng of some 150,000 roared its approval. The tour continues next weekend at Lake Mead, Nev., with the Las Vegas Cup.

*  *  *

Although George Stratton of Las Vegas won his second straight Unlimited Light Racing Series event in the Wild Fire, Bo Schide of Dayton, Ohio, and his Alamo clinched the season title for the ULRS with one race remaining.

*  *  *

As the Turbine Turns
by J Michael Kenyon

The Unlimited Light Racing Series finale Sunday afternoon in San Diego was a strange one, to say the least. Just two seven-liter boats, and the Dick Sanders-owned, Scott Schotz-driven six-liter, finished the championship heat. Most of the rest failed to finish the first lap. Doug Brow, in the Pocket Mechanic when Phil Bononcini was called back home due to the death of a close relative, was dead in the water before the field hit the starting line. Randy Haas, still getting the benefit of some hull revisions made by his crew which helped get the Miss Leroi up on a higher plane, ran solidly, but was never going to get George Stratton, who has turned out to be the big story at the last three ULRS events. The Las Vegan, in his first season after a career spent mostly racing flat bottoms, waited patiently while his crew laboriously repaired some serious transom (rudder bracket) damage incurred during Friday testing. The Wild Fire sat out Saturday's heat and Sunday's second preliminary, but was Jack the Bear in the final -- especially when arch-rival Bo Schide and the Alamo came up early croppers. Never mind, for the latter. Schide and the Alamo have clinched the season championship after some superlative early season efforts. Even if the six-boat field expected for Honolulu runs four heats (likely) and gets double points (as per ULRS "stimulation" rules, which also happened to lure boats to Valleyfield in July), owner Ned Allen's first-year effort with the brand new, Ft. Lauderdale-based boat is a rousing success. But, when it came to giving the big Mission Bay crowd the usual, deck-to-deck Light final heat, Sunday wasn't the time or place. Tow boats had to use all available rope to pull the Alamo, Cal Phipps' Miss Leroi II, Dave Bender's B&B Racing and Brow back to the pits. Dennis Macy, after the Saturday heat win (which he was awarded when Brow received a one-minute penalty for veering into another lane as he struggled to refit his oxygen mask), was the victim of a fouled engine. It froze after the Saturday heat and The Menace required a tow back. Nonetheless, the assembled competitors (notably absent, per usual, was the Pacific Northwest contingent, save for Bononcini's always-there Pocket Mechanic) were grateful to Alamo Rent Car for sponsoring the Lights final and look forward to a nice season-ender at Pearl Harbor ...

(Reprinted from the UHRA ThunderLetter Vol.3 no.301 September 15, 1997)


The Boat is New, But The Winner is The Same
By Bill Center

Mark Evans said it was one of those days, maybe the best day of his racing career.

"We had the luck of the draw early, then we got very good," Evans said after winning the Bill Muncey Cup Unlimited Hydroplane race on Mission Bay for a second straight year.

The only thing different was the boat.

Last year, Evans drove Miss Budweiser to victory.

Yesterday, before an estimated 60,000 spectators, Evans won with the PICO American Dream.

Won decisively. Won impressively. And won with the luck of the draw.

Evans won all three of his preliminaries without once drawing his rival Marks -- Tate in Close Call and Weber in Miss Budweiser.

While Tate and Weber were dueling and swapping victories, Evans was romping against lesser adversaries -- and piling up the championship points that would give him the crucial inside lane for yesterday's Bill Muncey Cup grand finale to the BayFair '97 weekend.

The finale didn't start well for Evans, however.

He got a bad start and spotted Tate the early lead in the five- lap championship dash around the choppy, 2.5-mile east Mission Bay course.

But Evans shoved PICO into the lead on the last turn of the first lap.

The difference -- the inside lane according to Tate.

"We did everything we wanted to do to win," said Tate.

"I got a good start and had the lead going into the south turn. But I hit a couple of rollers and the boat jumped out a lane and a half."

The same rollers hit Weber in Miss Budweiser, who was just behind and outside Tate.

But Evans bounced across the waves in the inside lane.

"I hit them, too," said Evans. "The boat reacted a little, but I still had the boat trimmed down."

The toughest thing Evans had to deal with was the unusual haze that hung across Mission Bay.

"By the time I was starting the last lap, I couldn't see a thing. I don't know if it was the humidity or whatever. But the spray just stuck to the windshield, and I was more worried about hitting someone who might be down than what was going on behind me."

That was probably good. For Tate was right behind the winner.

Even when Evans ripped off three 150-mph laps to start the final, Tate was less than two seconds behind. And Tate closed on the final lap -- losing by 1.5 seconds in one of the closest finishes in the 31-race history of Thunderboats on Mission Bay.

Third went to Miss Budweiser in the boat's best finish since Weber replaced the injured Dave Villwock at midseason.

Evans' second straight San Diego win was also his fourth of the season and tightened the rare three-way battle for the Unlimited Hydroplane season championship.

With two races to run, Miss Budweiser leads the boat standings with 10,280 points. With 9,860, PICO American Dream moved past Close Call (9,792) into second. In the driver standings, Evans moved into the lead over three-time champ Tate by the margin of 68 points. There are eight heats to run and up to 400 points to be gained in each heat.

"Usually the points battle ends here," said Tate, who predicted a close finish before yesterday's race. "But this year it's just begun."

"I feel the momentum," said Evans. "I love it."

And the momentum this weekend began with the all-important draws for heat races. For their heats, unlimited hydroplane fields are split in half with no more than six boats running in a heat. A random draw usually finds the top boats racing one another in at least one of the preliminary heats.

Not yesterday.

While Weber and Tate battled one another, Evans raced neither. "There have been times I couldn't get a draw to save my life," said Evans. "But we've been living right lately. I never took anything for granted, though. This is San Diego. Crazy things happen." And in Saturday's first heat, Evans trailed Mike Hanson in DeWALT Tools for more than a lap because of another bad start.

But yesterday, he grabbed the lead early and pulled away in his heats while Tate and Weber were swapping victories. "You want at least one shot at the other top boats in the heats," said Tate. "I haven't seen this scenario all year. It was like someone willed the inside lane in the championship race to Evans. We tried, but we couldn't make up the bad hand we were dealt."

Afterward, Close Call boat owner Steve Woomer, who is getting out of the sport after 14 years, told Tate: "I don't mind losing like that."

(Reprinted from the San Diego Union-Tribune, September 15, 1997)


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