1997 Texaco Cup at Seafair
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 10, 1997


Preliminary Heats

(all 3 laps, 6 miles)

HEAT 1A

1. Mark Weber, St. Clair Shores, Mich., Miss Budweiser, 139.027
2. Mark Tate, Canton, Mich., Close Call, 133.309
3. Steve David, Pompano Beach, Fla., Pennzoil Pit Stop, 131.678
4. Mike Hanson, Madison, Ind., DeWALT Tools, 129.813
5. Nate Brown, Preston, Wash., First Choice Business Machines, 127.811
6. Jerry Hale, Hayward, Calif., Team STIHL, 125.109
7. Brian Reynolds, Olympia, Wash., Chaplin's, 114.767 (fast lap, Weber, 1st, 141.523).

HEAT 1B

1. Mark Evans, Wenatchee, Wash., PICO American Dream, 132.372
2. Jimmy King, Richmond, Mich., Ellstrom's Miss E-Lam Plus, 127.979
3. Jerry Hopp, Snohomish, Wash., Graham Trucking, 127.081
4. Mitch Evans, Chelan, Wash., Packet Engines/Appian Jeronimo, 123.724
5. Doug Brow, Sea-Tac, Wash., Red Robin/Miss Exide, 101.437
6. Rick Christensen, Eatonville, Wash., Ultima/Spirit of Lake Chelan, 97.671
7. Ken Muscatel, Seattle, Wash., Computers & Applications, 88.931 (fast lap, Evans, 1st, 133.437).

SEATTLE, Wash. -- The two sections of Heat One of Sunday's Texaco Cup at SEAFAIR ran pretty much true to form with two of the "three Marks" motoring to easy wins -- Mark Weber in the Miss Budweiser (with the third Mark, Tate, not far behind in the Close Call) and Mark Evans in the PICO American Dream. The latter is trying to make it three wins in a row on the JASPER THUNDER TOUR presented by LAS VEGAS for unlimited hydroplanes.

The two first-heat winners drew into Heat 2A, and will start in lanes five and six as the boats draw in reverse order of their first-heat finishes.

The Budweiser, winner of the season's first four races with Dave Villwock driving, has failed to make each of the past two finals, Villwock crashing two weeks in Tri-Cities and a loose fuel line dooming Weber's first start as replacement driver last week in Kelowna, B.C.

Brian Reynolds, Olympia, Wash., and Doug Brow, Sea-Tac, Wash. (son of the late unlimited star Bill Brow) made their rookie debuts in competition as trailer boats in each of the two first-heat sections. They will occupy similar starting posts in the second-heat sections.

Fuel starvation seems to be part of the difficulty involving the Computers & Applications. It is the oldest hull on tour.

Also plagued, but by a different problem, is the Close Call. Despite extensive changes to the hull during the week, driver Mark Tate is still having handling difficulties in race water conditions.

Heat 2A is scheduled to begin at 12:50 p.m. The draw for the two second-heat sections:

2A (inside out)--Team STIHL, Graham Trucking, Pennzoil Pit Stop, Ellstrom's Miss E-Lam Plus, PICO American Dream, Miss Budweiser; trailer--Chaplin's.

2B (inside out)--Computers & Applications, Ultima/Spirit of Lake Chelan, First Choice Business Machines, Packet Engines/Appian Jeronimo, DeWALT Tools, Close Call; trailer-- Red Robin/Miss Exide.

*  *  *

SEATTLE (Special) -- Unlimited hydroplane driver N. Mark Evans, 40, Wenatchee, Wash., escaped injury when his PICO American Dream went out of control and rolled over during the first lap of Heat 2A of Sunday's Texaco Cup at Seattle.

Evans was able to crawl out the bottom escape hatch of his overturned boat in the second, or north, turn of the two-mile Lake Washington race course. He said he had accidentally run across the Miss Budweiser's skidfin roostertail, thus losing control of the 6,200-pound boat at some 155 miles an hour. The boat, according to witnesses, hopped out several lanes before slow-rolling over to its right and upside down.

The heat was stopped with Steve David in first place in the Pennzoil Pit Stop. It will be re-run after section 2B is run, beginning at 1:35 p.m.

*  *  *

HEAT 2A

(halted when Mark Evans and PICO American Dream rolled over in second turn of first lap)

HEAT 2B

1. Hanson, DeWALT Tools, 134.394
2. Tate, Close Call, 133.207
3. Brown, First Choice Business Machines, 124.544
4. Mitch Evans, Packet/Appian Jeronimo, 124.132
5. Brow, Red Robin/Exide, 110.221
6. Christensen, Ultima/Spirit of Chelan, 105.729
7. Muscatel, Computers & Applications (one lap penalty for encroachment) (fast lap, Tate, 2nd, 138.651).

HEAT 2A (re-run)

(halted when Jimmy King and Ellstrom's Miss E-Lam Plus hopped atop Mark Weber and Miss Budweiser and rode piggy-back until the boats halted deep in the first turn of the first lap; King was disqualified from the heat)

SEATTLE, Wash. -- The spectacle began to heat up, big time, during the re-run of Heat 2A of Sunday afternoon's Texaco Cup at Seafair for unlimited hydroplanes. Two drivers, somewhat miraculously, escaped injury when one boat hopped atop another at 190 miles an hour charging into the first turn -- and stay atop it, even after the "double-deck hydros" slid to a stop perilously close to a log boom jammed with pleasure boats and hundreds of spectators.

No one was hurt, either in the raceboats or on the log boom. The accident was believed to be unprecedented in the 40-year history of the Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Association-sanctioned JASPER THUNDER TOUR presented by LAS VEGAS

A crowd estimated at nearly 200,000 looked on in amazement as Jimmy King, 36, Richmond, Mich., momentarily lost control of his Ellstrom's E-Lam Plus, took a couple of skips to the right and slid right up on top of Mark Weber, 33, St. Clair Shores, Mich., and the world-famous Miss Budweiser as both maneuvered for position at top speed.

King was disqualified for the lane infraction. The Budweiser, at least theoretically, is eligible to race in the heat's second restart. The first was precipitated by Mark Evans' slowmotion rollover in the PICO American Dream at the other end of the course. He was unhurt, too.

Mike Hanson and DeWALT Tools took advantage of a wild ride by Mark Tate in the Close Call to win Heat 2B on sun-drenched Lake Washington. Tate led the way into the third lap, only to nearly flip his 6,200-pound craft in the south turn, skidding some 100 feet on the boat's rear end before re-gaining control.

Hanson took advantage of the miscue to take the lead, but nearly lost it in the second turn before Tate's boat hooked slightly and again lost momentum. The Close Call boat, winless this season, has repeatedly experienced handling difficulties in rough, or race, water.

The final heat, originally scheduled for 4:10 p.m. (PDT), will now be delayed at least 90 minutes, perhaps as much as two hours.

*  *  *

HEAT 2A (second re-run)

1. David, Pennzoil Pit Stop, 135.220
2. Hale, Team STIHL, 133.040
3. Hopp, Graham Trucking, 107.738
4. Reynolds, Chaplin's (penalized one lap for encroachment, no speed available) (fast lap, David, 1st, 138.037).

HEAT 3A

1. Tate, Close Call, 135.546
2. Mark Evans, PICO American Dream, 130.187
3. Brown, First Choice Business Machines, 124.727
4. Mitch Evans, Packet/Appian Jeronimo, 123.767
5. Reynolds, Chaplin's, 117.852
6. Brow, Red Robin/Miss Exide, 115.287
DNS--King, Ellstrom's E-Lam Plus (fast lap, Tate, 2nd, 136.646).

HEAT 3B

1. Hanson, DeWALT Tools, 136.649
2. Mark Evans, Team STIHL, 133.142
3. David, Pennzoil Pit Stop, 131.222
4. Muscatel, Computers & Applications, 121.182
5. Christensen, Ultima/Spirit of Lake Chelan, 104.111
6. Hopp, Graham Trucking (one lap penalty, hit buoy, no time) (fast lap, Hanson, 3rd, 137.308).

*  *  *

Unlimited Lights Prelims

SEATTLE, Wash. -- The final heat of the Unlimited Light Racing Series, the supporting event for Sunday's Texaco Cup at Seafair for unlimited hydroplanes on Lake Washington, ended with some five penalties spread around the eight competitors and with reports that a losing owner had swung at an opposing driver whom he claimed ran into his driver during the warmup lap before the start.

The apparent winner, still unofficial, is David Leach, a substitute driver in the Miss SeaFair Bank, who replaced brother- in-law Brian Reynolds when the latter moved up to drive the Chaplin's unlimited in the main event. Apparently disqualified, after reaching the checkered flag first, was George Stratton of Las Vegas, driving the Wild Fire.

Stratton is the same driver who survived a wild, 360-degree flip in Kelowna, B.C., last week and was able to drive back to the pits. This time officials cited him, and two other boats, for cutting off ULRS series point leader Bo Schide even before the start. Schide's owner, Ned Allen of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., then angrily confronted Stratton after the race.

Second place, again unofficially, went to Dave Bender of El Dorado, Calif., in the Pete's Wicked Ale and Randy Haas, Toledo, O., drove Miss LeRoi to third place. The snapped a three- race winning streak by Schide, who maintains a large lead in the point standings.

The unlimited final has been set for 5:40 p.m. (PDT).

*  *  *

Winner Take All Final

1. Mark Evans, Wenatchee, Wash., PICO American Dream, 135.363
2. Mark Tate, Canton, Mich., Close Call Phone Card, 132.234
3. Steve David, Pompano Beach, Fla., Pennzoil Pit Stop, 130.607
4. Mitch Evans, Chelan, Wash., Team STIHL, 128.620
5. Nate Brown, Preston, Wash., First Choice Business Machines, 124.134
6. Jerry Hopp, Snohomish, Wash., Graham Trucking, 107.523
7. Mike Hanson, Madison, Ind., DeWALT Tools (penalized one lap, missed buoy) (fast lap, Tate, 3rd, 144.677).

SEATTLE, Wash. -- In a relatively tame climax to a long and bizarre day of unlimited hydroplane racing on Lake Washington, Mark Evans came back from being upside down in Heat 2A to take the winner-take-all final in his trusty PICO American Dream. Evans averaged 135.363 mph over the five-lap, ten-mile final for the championship of the Texaco Cup at SEAFAIR. Owned by Fred Leland of Kirkland, Wash., PICO has now won three straight races on the JASPER THUNDER TOUR presented by Las Vegas.

Second went to Mark Tate in the Close Call, ahead of Steve David in the Pennzoil Pit Stop. Evans' crew put new wings and a new engine into the PICO after it was towed back to the pits upside down following the second heat. Evans escaped unhurt and then returned to race second in a third preliminary heat and, finally, got the jump on Tate coming out of turn one of the final go and never looked like anything but a winner.

The restart to that Heat 2A was marred by an amazing, 190-mile-an-hour collision which left two boats double-decked atop each other and through insofar as the competition was concerned. Jimmy King, 36, Richmond, Mich., was adjudged to have lost control of his Ellstrom's Miss E-Lam Plus, which did a relatively slow-motion hop, skip and jump to his right and straddled Mark Weber, 33, St. Clair Shores, Mich., in one of the pre-race favorites, Miss Budweiser. The latter was extensively damaged, but managed to come to a stop just shy of a crowded log boom area in the south turn of the course. Neither driver was injured in the weird crash, which contributed to a 90-minute delay in the day's program.

*  *  *

The Unlimited Light Racing Series apparently was won by George Stratton, Las Vegas, in the Wild Fire. The official results may be released sometime next week, or month. Stratton appeared to have beaten everyone to the checkered flag, but then hesitant referees gave the unofficial nod to David Leach of Olympia, Wash., in the Miss SeaFirst Bank. Three hours later, Stratton was given back the title.

*  *  *

Tangled Hydros: A Seafair Scare
By Tom Fuller

A three-ton hydroplane was lying across the windshield of Mark Weber's cockpit, but the Miss Budweiser driver knew he had to turn left.

Thousands of spectators were out there, somewhere, fearfully wondering whether Weber could prevent the tangled hulls of the Miss Budweiser and Miss E-Lam from crashing into their floating festival.

"There was so much weight on the boat," Weber siad. "I was just trying to turn left as hard as I could."

Steve David ultimately won Heat 2A of the Texaco Cup on the second restart. It's a result that will go down as one of the most irrelevant in Seafair history.

Weber and Miss E-Lam driver Jimmy King churned to a halt approximately 15 feet from a mass of free-standing boats wedged between two south-turn log booms. No fans were hurt, and neither driver was injured, although neither completed another heat the rest of the day.

The free-standing boats, originally 500 feet from the course, were moved 1,000 feet farther away for the remaining races. There probably weren't too many complaints from the fans after their close encounter with 13,000 pounds of hydroplane.

"Basically, we were coming into the corner really hot, and the skid fin didn't hook up," King said. "I went to turn, and I was too far out of the water.

"I was waiting for it (the skid fin) to come back down, and it never came down, and that's when I realized I was on top of him."

Pat Malara, Seafair waterside chairman, said the Coast Guard has difficulty every year keeping boats not attached to the log boom from pushing closer to the course.

Kathleen Cahoon, Seattle Coast Guard spokeswoman, said the Coast Guard's responsibility at the race was to enforce a safety perimeter set up in advance by Seafair officials, and to make sure no boats went within that perimeter.

The Coast Guard's job was more difficult yesterday, however. The log boom's configuration had been changed this year to accommodate the new flight pattern of the Blue Angels. It was not a continuous log boom, as it has been in the past. That let the freestanding boats, which were allowed into the race area after the completion of the Blue Angels' performance early in the afternoon, lie between the different sections of the log boom.

"This is the first time that those free-standing boats have been able to get that close," said Eric Radovich, Seafair's public-relations director.

A faulty canopy was a primary reason former Miss Budweiser driver Dave Villwock was injured two weeks ago in a blowover in the Tri-Cities race. Villwock is still in the hospital and has had two fingers on his right hand amputated.

Weber's cockpit held firm, however.

Just two weeks after watching Villwock being pulled unconscious from the Columbia River, Budweiser owner Bernie Little was thankful his newest driver wasn't hurt.

":I took Weber into the bus and took his blood pressure just to make sure it was OK. And it was better than mine," Little said. "The canopy saved his life."

The Seattle race is known for its bizarre accidents. Bill Muncey "torpedoed" and sank a Coast Guard boat in 1958 while driving the Miss Thriftway. Bill Cantrell drove the Gale IV into the yard of a Lake Washington residence coming off the north turn in 1954.

But the sight of the white Miss E-Lam piggy-backing on top of the red Miss Budweiser is thought to be the first of its kind in unlimited racing.

(Reprinted from the Seattle Times, Monday, August 11, 1997)

*  *  *

Blown Over, But Not Blown Out
By Tom Fuller

When Mark Evans bounded out his escape hatch and saluted the Seafair crowd, the relieved roar of 300,000 fans rattled through his helmet.

He never thought they would hail him as Texaco Cup champion five hours later.

Evans' hydroplane, the PICO American Dream, was upside down in Lake Washington. The red, white and blue hull had blown over in the north turn during Heat 2A. No driver ever had won an unlimited race after flipping his boat the same day as the final.

Until yesterday.

"To be upside down and come back and win the darn thing, it's fantastic. It's got to be (my greatest victory ever)," said Evans, 40, who has won the past three races. "I just had to get back on the horse, maybe not set the world on fire, but get back out there and rack up some points. I thought we could bring it back. Just put some duct tape on it and go."

Ken Dryden, the PICO crew chief, knew it would take more than duct tape. He stood by himself for approximately 30 minutes on the upside-down hull, simultaneously trying to keep it from sinking and wondering whether his crew could fix it in time for the final.

Damage was everywhere. The steering was destroyed. The engine and electrical systems were drenched and had to be replaced. So did the front flaps, oil system and rear wing, which nearly had been sheared off by the water on impact.

The team's newest hull, in its first competition since Scott Pierce virtually destroyed it in a blowover in Detroit the first race of the season, was a disaster again.

"It should have taken us two days to repair it," Dryden said. "It took us two hours."

They were given more time for repairs when the Miss E-Lam crashed into the Miss Budweiser in the restart of Heat 2A, climbing on its back and nearly forcing the two boats into a mass of pleasure boats wedged between two south-turn log booms. The accident delayed the completion of Heat 2A by nearly 90 minutes.

As Steve David, who won the ill-fated Heat 2A, said later: "That's absolutely the weirdest heat I've ever been in. It's a shame we had to lose so many gosh darn boats."

It was the third consecutive week a Budweiser hull has been severely damaged after being the fastest qualifier. This after four consecutive victories to start the season before Dave Villwock flipped in the Tri-Cities two weeks ago.

Mark Weber's canopy, however, unlike Villwock's, held firm. And no injuries were suffered.

"Fortunately, Jimmy (King, Miss E-Lam's driver) is OK and I'm OK," said Weber, the youngest driver on the unlimited hydroplane circuit. "Jimmy didn't do anything intentional. But the Miss Budweiser was going to win the boat race. We hadn't even shown our entire hand yet. That's the only frustration you see in Mark Weber right now."

The Budweiser crew couldn't salvage its boat. The PICO crew did salvage its boat. Crew members let out one of their biggest cheers when they fired the engine after repairs were completed and nothing blew off. They were racing again. And racing faster than any other boat.

"We do some tremendous things sometimes," said Fred Leland, owner of the PICO American Dream and two other boats. "Mark did tremendous. The crew did tremendous. All my other crews did tremendous, and there were several other crews involved in getting that boat ready.

"Sometimes you blow over and nothing happens. Sometimes you totally destroy it. We never give up until the hull does, I guess."

Evans, from Wenatchee, was in Lane 4 for the final, a lane normally reserved for teams that have no chance of winning. But Evans was ready. He had been carried from the pits on a stretcher. He had been wearing a neck brace in the medical trailer.

But he also had come sprinting out of the trailer.

"The anticipation had built up," Evans said. "I had myself psyched for it from the minute I got out of the boat when I was upside down. If we got to the final, I was going to hit that start as hard as I could. They were screaming on the radio at me, 'Slow down!' I was like, 'No way, man.'"

By the time he reached the first corner, he had a two-boat advantage. Career victory No. 6 was an easy five-lap cruise with great views of Mount Baker and Mount Rainier, and even better views of his opponents in his rear-view mirror.

Mark Tate, driver of the Close Call, didn't think it should have been so easy. He said Evans jumped the start.

"I don't know what race they were looking at out there, but the guys on the outside were hauling bail, and we came off the buoy maybe running 110 miles an hour," Tate said. "There was no way I was going to catch Evans. I don't put the blame anywhere except with the referee. They should have never started that heat."

Had the Miss E-Lam not collided with the Miss Budweiser on the restart of Heat 2A, Dryden's crew might not have had time to fix the boat for the final. If the Miss E-Lam hadn't collided with the Miss Budweiser, Steve Woomer's Close Call team might have won its first race in Seattle.

His boat struggled through the corners as it has all season. It didn't beat the Miss Budweiser in Heat 1A. It didn't beat the DeWALT Tools in Heat 2B. It nearly flipped several times as Tate tried to compensate for its deficiencies.

Woomer talked about replacing the boat next season. So did Tate, who hung his head like a competitor resigned to runner-up status.

But then Evans flipped in the PICO, and the Miss E-Lam took out the Miss Budweiser. The two best boats in the field were out, or so it seemed. Try No. 13 appeared as if it might be lucky for Woomer.

"It looked like everything was going to crash and burn in front of me and I might be the only boat still running when it came around for the checkered flag," Woomer said.

"But I tell you, (the PICO team) did a tremendous job there. I've seen the boats thrashed before where you try to rebuild the sponsor or something in between heats, and it's pretty amazing to see that happen.

Dryden said he had never seen so many people on the deck of one boat. He was referring to the repair session.

He just as easily could have been referring to his team's celebration after one of the most remarkable victories in Seafair history.

(Reprinted from the Seattle Times, Monday, August 11, 1997)


PICO American Dream wins Texaco Cup

SEATTLE - The PICO American Dream won the Texaco Cup at Seafair on Sunday, a comeback victory for driver Mark Evans after his boat flipped and favorite Miss Budweiser was damaged in a collision in earlier heats.

Evans, of Wenatchee, Wash., captured the winner-take-all final heat after rolling over during the second turn of the first lap of an earlier heat. He started from Lane 4, powered through the first turn and sprinted away to victory.

Second place went to Close Call, driven by Mark Tate of Canton, Mich., who gave chase throughout the first lap, but was unable to handle the rough water.

Pennzoil Pit Stop with Steve David of Pompano Beach, Fla., at the wheel was third. David had a neck-aneck race with fourth-place finisher Team Stihl, driven by Mitch Evans of Chelan, Wash., who substituted for Jerry Hale of Hayward, Calif. Hale hurt his ribs while being bumped around the cockpit in earlier heats.

First Choice Business Machines, driven by Nate Brown of Preston, Wash., was fifth and DeWalt Tools, driven by Mike Hanson of Madison, Ind., was sixth.

The Bud was damaged in a 190 mph collision when the Miss E-Lam Plus, driven by Jimmy King of Richmond, Mich., ran atop the Bud, driven by Mark Weber of St. Clair Shores, Mich., and rode "piggy-back" until the boats were halted in the first turn of the first lap of a rerun of heat 2A. King was disqualified from the heat.

The hydroplanes slid to a stop a few feet from a long boom jammed with spectators and their boats.

No one was hurt.

(Reprinted from the Detroit News, August 11, 1997)


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