2001 Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio
Ohio River, Evansville IN, June 30-July 1, 2001

Evansville Race Report

Evansville Preview
Evansville Race Report

(Evansville, Ind.) - Defending event and series champions Dave Villwock and Miss Budweiser successfully opened defense of their titles with a victory at today's Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio at Evansville, Ind., the first race of the Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series Presented by Laughlin.

Since joining Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser team in 1997, Villwock, who won the 1996 Evansville event driving Miss Pico, has been flawless in Evansville, winning a total of six consecutive events.

Villwock powered away at the start but was consistently challenged by Mike Hanson in the U-9 WABX throughout the race. Greg Hopp, in the U-100 Miss Znetix I, began the final as the provisional starter in the field and maneuvered around the course to challenge. But Villwock and the Miss Budweiser were too strong and pulled away to claim the victory. With the victory, Villwock increased his career win total to 36 and Bernie Little's to 131.

Hanson ended up finishing in second with Hopp in third. Rounding out the top five was Mark Weber in the U-10 Miss Emcor in fourth and Jimmy King in the U-8 LLumar Window Film in fifth.

"We always hope to start the season with a win," said Villwock, "but after seeing how tight the field was in qualifying and in the preliminary heats, I had my doubts about our chances. The team did a tremendous job preparing for this race and I could have not won this without all their efforts."

The event, which featured a tightly bunched qualifying field and close competition in preliminary heats, was the first of the season under the new HYDRO-PROP series management. A record crowd for the Evansville Freedom Festival enjoyed the competition under near ideal conditions.

Mike Hanson in the U-9 was the fastest qualifier at Evansville with a time of 154.179 miles per hour. Dave Villwock was only able to set a qualifying speed of 150.527 mph, thus, ending Miss Budweiser's streak of being the top qualifier in 28 consecutive Unlimited Hydroplane races.

With his victory today, Dave Villwock took the early lead in the O'Doul's High Points Championship standings. Villwock leads the championship with 158 points over Mike Hanson with 143 points and Mark Weber with 124 points. Jimmy King currently sits in fourth with 93 points and Steve David has 83 points.

In addition to the Unlimited Hydroplane race, this year's Belterra Casino Madison Regatta festivities include a fireworks display, a parade, live bands, a basketball tournament, a balloon race, beauty pageant, bike races, 10K walk/run and an air show.

Practice and qualifying for the Unlimited Hydroplanes will begin Saturday, July 7 with the finals scheduled for Sunday, July 8. The Belterra Casino Madison Regatta race will be televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, August 5 at 7:00 PM (EDT)


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Leslie Field, 2002