1997 Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup
Ohio River, Madison IN, July 6, 1997

Miss Budweiser is Hydro to Beat in Madison Race
By Jim Terhune

MADISON, Ind. -- Mad scientists from 11 unlimited hydroplane teams have tinkered frantically with engines and propellers this week, trying to reduce the massive gap between Miss Budweiser and the rest of the pack.

Twelve teams and 14 boats are expected for this weekend's Madison Regatta on the Ohio River. Testing and qualifying for the Indiana Governor's Cup race will take place today and tomorrow. Sunday's program will include seven heats and a 5:10 p.m. (EDT) final.

All but two of the hydros barely have been able to keep Miss Bud's roostertail in sight. Dave Villwock qualified a new hull called T-5 11 1/2 seconds faster than any other boat last week at Evansville, then cruised to victory in three heats and the final.

The Bud now has won four straight regattas, two this season. It was fastest in an April exhibition in Phoenix, fastest until high winds forced cancellation of heats at Norfolk, Va., in late May and then won a crash-marred Gold Cup at Detroit a week later.

"If you don't know what direction you're going, it's pretty tough," Bud owner Bernie Little said. "We're back to where we ought to be."

"They've got the jump on everybody, and we've got to spend the Madison week trying to catch up," said Mike Hanson, driver of the Madison community-owned DeWALT Tools. "But we'll get 'em."

The getting will take some doing. Villwock was crew chief on the Circus Circus boat driven to national titles by Chip Hanauer in 1989-90. Villwock later turned to driving and won the 1996 crown in PICO American Dream. Little hired him away in October.

A device called the N2 limiter has been placed on propeller shafts to cut speeds this year, but Villwock joined longtime Bud crew chief Ron Brown in the boat shop to give the team tons of expertise. The result was a 163.934 mph qualifying lap at Evansville, only 2 mph off the all-time two-mile course record despite the restrictor.

Can he also dominate at Madison, where the 2 1/2-mile course's turns have been widened but still are tight?

"We haven't done any testing on a course that's long and has that narrow of a corner," Villwock said. "We're going to have to go and work hard again. But we hadn't tested on a course like (Evansville's) either, then made some good guesses."

The fleet from Evansville is expected to be joined by one other potentially competitive craft -- Appian Jeronimo. It ran well in Detroit before passing last week's event in favor of some computer system testing and other motor modifications.

(Reprinted from the Louisville Courier-Journal, Friday, July 4, 1997)

*  *  *

With Old Born-on Date, Miss Budweiser Romps
By Jim Terhune

MADISON, Ind. -- Unbeaten Miss Budweiser walked on water again yesterday, thanks in part to a wrong turn taken by PICO American Dream and an unprecedented dud fired by Close Call.

But no one strolling the shore at the Madison Regatta's Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup was about to say that the powerful red unlimited hydroplane wouldn't have cleaned everybody's turbine even without any help.

Miss Bud is now 3 for 3 this season after putting away unheralded Miss TruckGear by 10.733, an average of 4.4 mph quicker.

She won all four heats, giving her 12 straight since a penalty lap cost her one at the Detroit Gold Cup on June 1. The record is 20 in a row when Miss Bud was driven by Dean Chenoweth in 1980.

Dave Villwock was the winning driver. He gave Turbine 3, the hull built in 1989, its 25th victory, breaking a tie with the Atlas Van Lines "Blue Blaster" (late 1970s) and Miss Bud's Turbine 2 hull (1987-94) for most victories.

"Making it the winningest hull in the history of the sport is big," Villwock said. "I had a boat that could fly five feet out of the water and have a way of bringing itself down."

Which is what the Bud did in the second turn of the first lap of the five-lap final. In a battle with PICO that looked as if it might last awhile, Villwock's boat lifted as it rounded the turn.

It was running in lane two about four boat lengths ahead of PICO. PICO, which had also won its three heats, was in lane one. Squeezed, it spun out, tore some skin off the left sponson and went dead in the water for the rest of the heat.

"It was really, really tight," PICO pilot Mark Evans said. "He left me no room whatsoever. But officials decided not to call anything, and that's racing."

How tight was it?

"He had room," Villwock said. "That was why I chose lane two (he had first pick). If you're in a turn and in lane one, and there's a great big hull next to you, you're going to go for a ride."

Could it have been a real race otherwise?

Villwock insisted he was worried about the PICO.

"The first lap of the third heat, PICO ran a 142 (mph) lap and us a 141.9," he said. "(Crew chief) Ron Brown and the guys went back to the toolbox and changed a lot of things."

What things?

"I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you," Villwock said after taking a beer bath from his crew at the trophy presentation. "But it allows us to press the envelope as much as we can. You can get an extra five-six miles an hour doing that."

The biggest disappointment was Close Call. The two-time Madison defending champion had come within 2.7 mph of Miss Budweiser in qualifying Saturday and seemed to be a legitimate threat.

But driver Mark Tate had problems handling the boat through the first turn of its first lap in heat one, then washed down in the wake of a roostertail in the second turn. Close Call finished third.

In its second heat, it suddenly shut off on the backstretch of the first lap. It restarted and finished the heat but was fourth and last.

Its only decent run of the day came in heat three, when it finished second after starting as the trailer.

But it finished eighth in points and couldn't make the six-boat final, the first time anyone could remember that happening to one of the top qualifiers.

"In my 32 years of doing this, I've had races where we deserved to finish bad but never had one that was this bad when you're a whisker off the top qualifier," Close Call drew chief Jim Lucero said. "The first heat he got it a little up on its side and did a little walk in the first turn. The other guys got away, then he got into their wakes.

"The second heat the engine just died on the back chute. We replaced it, had a good run in the third and exorcised some demons. But there are always more demons left."

Ironically, it put Miss TruckGear, the lesser boat in Close Call owner Steve Woomer's two-hydro camp, on center stage. The crew installed Close Call's gearbox in Miss TruckGear and some other parts.

"It gave us better acceleration, better top-end speed, a better fuel- delivery program and bigger propeller speed," driver Nate Brown said. "Plus we had other peoples' misfortune."

But there was no "mis" in the fortunes of the Bud.

"We're all trying to figure out what we've got, and they know what they have," said Mike Hanson, driver of the hometown boat DeWALT Tools, which was fourth.

Miss Budweiser earned about $30,000 from a $150,000 purse.

The race will be shown on ESPN2 Saturday at 1:30 p.m., next Sunday at 4:30 a.m. and July 29 at 4 a.m. (all times eastern daylight).

The Coast Guard and regatta executive director Dan Carter estimated the crowd at about 100,000, with approximately 20,000 on the Kentucky side.

Regatta treasurer Ann Center said wristband sales were up from 1996 on Saturday but down yesterday. She wouldn't disclose the amounts.

(Reprinted from the Louisville Courier-Journal, Monday, July 7, 1997)

*  *  *

High Flying Miss Bud Dominates Again
By Mark Campbell, Kentucky News Editor

Dave Villwock and the high flying Miss Budweiser have been chewing up and spitting out the competition all season and Madison's Bill Cantrell Memorial Race Course was no exception this weekend.

Villwock dominated qualifying on Friday and Saturday and then leveled all competitors through three rounds of preliminary heats and the five-lap final Sunday to win the 1997 Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup race.

"We're having a good year. We've won three of three and five in a row," said Miss Budweiser owner Bernie Little, who obviously is withholding the use of the word "great" for something more worthy -- like a perfect 10-0 se ason.

If not for a one-lap penalty assessed on Villwock in Heat 1B of the Detroit Gold Cup on May 31, Miss Budweiser would be undefeated in competition this year -- a perfect 13-0. Add in Miss Bud's perfect 3-0 record in an exhibition on Firebird Lake at Phoenix in April and the current trend looks as if Budweiser could run the table in 1997.

"We know it can go away at any time," Villwock said, moments after kissing his latest hydro queen, hoisting his newest trophy and getting a beer shower by the Miss Budweiser crew members. "As it is we just go and start racing when we show up and just never stop racing until they make us go home."

The significance of the win was not lost on Villwock, who has been with the team only three races, but has followed its storied past like others in boat racing.

"I think the most important thing is we got the win on that hull (T-3) to make it the winningest hull in the history of the sport," Villwock said. "My hat's off to (crew chief) Ronnie Brown. We took a boat we could fly five feet out of the water and still get it back down. He's been working a long time on that boat making it better and better and better and it's just a tribute to Ron Brown and the entire crew with what they've been able to do with that race boat."

"We wanted to run the T-3 because we thought the water conditions were right for it," said Little. "Today was the right place and the right time to set the record."

"As I've said before," added Villwock, "it's more technically involved (than the T-5) and it would suit this race course and it really did. We were able to do a lot with it."

However, Villwock said the boat's ability to "fly" actually cost the team some speed early in the final heat as he was being pressured from the inside lane by Mark Evans and the PICO American Dream.

"PICO caught us going into the second turn and I actually flew it down there for a ways and it cost us a little bit of time. I let the boat get away," Villwock said. "Once again it came back down and it powered on. The wing that Ronnie designed does actually work.

"A lot of people in the last couple of years have done a lot of complaining over it -- how that boat reacted in rough conditions," Villwock said. "But those two raceboats down there are the best raceboats I've ever driven in my entire life and a few months ago I wouldn't have said that because I've had some pretty special raceboats."

After winning all three of its preliminary heats, the PICO failed to finish the final after driver Mark Evans spun the boat in turn three and was unable to restart the engine.

Evans told reporters the corner was "really tight" and Villwock "left me no room whatsoever." However, race officials assessed no penalties in the incident, a point Villwock noted cleared him in the incident.

The PICO and Budweiser were running side-by-side when the incident occurred. Villwock, who was in lane two, said PICO's lane one starting position was a tough assignment on the narrow Madison course, which is quickly consumed by large swells and deep holes during competition.

"He had room to get in there," said Villwock. "It was just rough down there and that's what happens. That's why we chose lane two, because we know that you get down in there and you have to turn that corner immediately an d if there's just one lane and it's a great big hole there's nothing you can do about it."

(Reprinted from the Madison Courier, Monday, July 7, 1997)

Hydroplane History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010.
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at wildturnip@gmail.com
Leslie Field, 1999