1995 Pontiac Thunder On The Ohio
EVANSVILLE (June 25) -- Pontiac's Thunder On the Ohio proved an even more popular event than in recent years, largely because some mystery enveloped the Miss Budweiser camp. The Bud had dominated recent events here to the point that the citizenry was adopting a ho-hum attitude. But when Hanauer qualified fastest -- and then said his ribs and back were too sore for him to give the race a proper effort -- extra interest quickly surrounded the event. Bernie Little "borrowed" Mark Evans from the Fred Leland camp, put the personable, 38-year-old Wenatchee (Wash.) resident into his "Turbine-3" hull and managed to hold off the field . . . until the final.
After two wins and a second in the preliminary heats, though, the Bud reached a point where it began shedding parts into the Ohio River during the hard- fought championship five-lapper. Chief benefactor was Mark Tate, and he powered his Smokin' Joe's entry right around the limping Bud (which did not finish) to claim the checkered flag ahead of Dave Villwock's red, white and blue PICO and David's black-and-yellow T-PLUS. With Hanauer sidelined, Tate moved ahead in the Eagle Snacks Presents O'Doul's High Point driver point totals and set sail for a second straight individual title. The Bud remained atop the team standings, 5,685 to 5,216, but that lead was diminishing.
A difficult task also was set for the crew of Ken Muscatel's Target Stores (U-14) entry. The boat's entire left sponson and decking came loose while negotiating a turn in Heat 1-B, precipitating a seven-day, around-the-clock repair effort to get it back into racing condition.
(Reprinted from the URC Electronic Thunderletter No. 29 September 28, 1995)