2001 Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio
Ohio River, Evansville IN, June 30-July 1, 2001
Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series Presented by Laughlin Opens June 30-July 1 at Evansville, Ind.
Villwock Attempts to Defend Series Title; Weber Ready to Challenge; Pierce Returns to Hydros
(Evansville, Ind.) - The 2001 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series Presented by Laughlin opens here (June 30 - July 1) with the Evansville Freedom Festival's Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio. Evansville's speedy tri-oval course on the Ohio River has witnessed many exciting races in its 22-year history including wins by Unlimited Hydroplane legends such as Bill Muncey, Chip Hanauer and Dean Chenoweth.
"Unlimited Hydroplane racing has become a tradition to the residents of Southern Indiana," said Gary Garbrecht, President of HYDRO-PROP. "Evansville has been a focal point of this tradition for the past three decades. It is a terrific venue and there is no better location to start the season. We are excited for the season to begin and look forward to the thrilling battles between the Unlimiteds."
* Last Year at Evansville
Dave Villwock, driving the Miss Budweiser, won his fifth consecutive Budweiser on the Ohio last year at Evansville. He also was top qualifier and won all three of his preliminary heats. Mark Tate drove Jim Harvey's U-2 to a second place finish and Mark Weber in USA Racing Partner's U-10 finished third. Weber, Mike Hanson in the U-9 and Greg Hopp in the U-100 also secured preliminary heat victories.
* Unlimited Drivers Begin Season After Long Lay-Off
When the Unlimited Hydroplane drivers enter the water for their first practice at Evansville, it will have been a total of 285 days since they last competed in an official race. To a racer this feels like a lifetime away from the sport. "It has been a long lay-off and it is about time that we get down to business and fire up our turbine engines," said Mark Weber of the U-10 Miss Emcor. "I can't wait for the boat to be in the water and I am ready to go racing."
* Dave Villwock and Miss Budweiser To Defend Championship
Dave Villwock and the Miss Budweiser will begin their defense of the Unlimited Hydroplane World Championship at Evansville. Miss Budweiser's team owner Bernie Little claimed his 20th World Championship and Villwock dominated the Unlimited Hydroplane series by winning six of seven races on his way to his fourth O'Doul's National High Points Championship. Villwock will look to win his sixth consecutive Thunder on the Ohio.
* Mark Weber Sets Sights on Championship
Finishing second in the Unlimited Hydroplane Championship last season, Mark Weber of the U-10 Miss Emcor has set his goal this year to win the championship. Weber secured three podium finishes last season including a third place finish at Evansville. He also won seven preliminary heats. A great start at Evansville could be the catalyst to propel him to his first Unlimited Hydroplane Championship.
* Former Unlimited Hydroplane Champion Returns
Scott Pierce, who retired from Unlimited Hydroplane racing in 1997, will return to the sport and drive the U-2 for Jim Harvey Motorsports this season. Pierce, who has seven career Unlimited victories, won the 1991 Evansville Thunder on the Ohio on his way to the championship while driving the Miss Budweiser. Pierce brings 17 years of Unlimited Hydroplane racing experience to the U-2 team.
* City of Madison, Ind. Selects Steve David to Pilot U-6
Miss Madison, the world's only community-owned Unlimited Hydroplane, has selected Steve David to drive the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto for the season. David, who has three Unlimited victories, returns to the sport after a brief hiatus. David will be looking for a great start to the season at Evansville to gain confidence as he prepares for the following race in front of the hometown crowd at Madison.
* Piston-Powered U-3 to be Hometown Favorite
Mitch Evans will drive the Evansville-based U-3 Master Tire for Ed Cooper Sr. and Jr., the lone piston-powered Unlimited Hydroplane in the series. Ed Cooper Jr., an Evansville junior high geography and history teacher, will receive additional fan support as his turbo-charged Allison aircraft engine literally thunders across the water.
* A Number of Unlimited Drivers Set to Begin Season
Jimmy King (U-8 LLumar Window Film); Mike Hanson (U-9 Jones Racing); Nate Brown (U-16 Miss E-Lam Plus); Dr. Ken Muscatel (U-25 Superior Racing); Terry Troxell (U-99 Miss Znetix II) and Greg Hopp (U-100 Miss Znetix I) will also begin their Unlimited Hydroplane season at Evansville.
* Evansville Freedom Festival
In addition to the Unlimited Hydroplane race, this year's Evansville Freedom Festival will include an Air Show featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and will be part of the Great American Race, the world's largest and richest vintage car rally-race featuring over 100 vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles. The race will run from Atlanta, Ga. to Pasadena, Calif. from June 17 through June 30, and will stop in Evansville on Wednesday, June 20.
Practice and qualifying for the Unlimited Hydroplanes will begin Friday, June 29 with the finals scheduled for Sunday, July 1. The Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio race will be televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 22 at 11:30 PM (EDT)
2001 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series Presented by Laughlin June 30-July 1 Evansville, Ind. Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio July 7-8 Madison, Ind. The Belterra Casino Indiana Governor's Cup July 12-15 Detroit, Mich. Chrysler-Jeep APBA Cup July 27-29 Tri-Cities, Wash. Budweiser Columbia Cup August 3-5 Seattle, Wash. General Motors Cup at Seafair September 14-16 San Diego, Calif. San Diego's Bayfair
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