1996 Kansas City Hydrofair
Steve David is drawing his way through to the final in pretty comfortable fashion. With 1,000 points after an easy win in Heat 3A, he will have a decent lane choice from which to fire for a possible second consecutive Hydrofair victory in the two-wing U-2 boat of Jim Harvey. Jimmy King continued to improve, but wasn't able to outgun Mike Hanson's DeWALT Tools for second. Ken Muscatel went way wide into turn one from his pace-boat, lane 5 position but then fought his way back to nail Mitch Evans and the Mill Bay Casino for fourth. The Computers & Applications crew has worked overtime, first installing the remainder of their boat's hardware and plumbing after a late arrival Saturday morning, then replacing a burned bearing in the shaft which kept them out of Heat 2.
"The water here is a great equalizer," said David. "It's awfully tough to tell where the rollers are going to be, from lap to lap." Mark Evans agrees: "I'm just going to keep drawing in as close to the buoy line as I can. I know it can get rough down there, but it's been good to me so far." After the boats ahead of him demurred from choosing the supposedly too-rough lane 1 in 1995, David opted for it and was able to wire up the field in the final.
Heat 3B pitted the three top boats and it was Mark Tate, Smokin' Joe's, getting the jump on his rivals from lane 2. Villwock and the PICO seemed to slow briefly exiting the second turn before the start. Then, from the inside and in third place, he continued to try to catch up and press the Budweiser. But his quest ended with a late bid on the second turn of the third lap when he took a shower and lost power for a few seconds. As Tate flashed across the finish line in first, Villwock got it going again in time to get third ahead of the fast-closing Rick Christensen and Mike Jones. All finished.
From the outside lane (remember, this is a flag start race, therefore an inverted order of start for the second heat): Villwock cruises to an easy lead around the outside. David was late onto the course, thanks to a crane overload (three to pick for one heat), but made it to lane 4 in plenty of time. The big problem for the U-2 was a hole in the right sponson, which the crew plugged (successfully, it turned out) with a big piece of aluminum and fibreglass. He didn't appear to want to push too hard, knowing he had the others covered. Mitch Evans and Rick Christensen again battled close for a couple of laps, but Evans pulled ahead to gain another third. Miss Exide was fifth all the way, but finished.
Smokin' Joe's outside, Bud in lane 4 beats him out of the first turn and never looks back. Tate stays within a couple of boat lengths to the second turn, but Evans again scoots through it quickly and has a roostertail-length lead. They stay that way to the finish. Jimmy King surprisingly close, just another roostertail back of Smokin' Joe's until the issue was decided. DeWALT Tools, from lane 3, was always fourth. Lane 1 remained open when the Computers & Applications could not leave the pits.
Good start. Smokin' Joe's across right behind Rick Christensen in the pace boat (outside) lane. Steve David seemed to lose power coming around the second turn and didn't get a good jump. First two boats established early, but Mitch Evans had to go all out to edge Christensen for third. All finished.
Beautiful start to Heat 1B, Bud leads into first turn and out of it, although Villwock comes on in the new PICO to pull him down the back straight. Evans executes a beautiful second turn, regains lead, but again Villwock pulls him down the front straigtht, in mid-140s laps. Back around again to the second turn, where Evans and the Bud hit a roller and do a herky-jerky squiggle, brushing the buoy just before the exit buoy. But it holds, so no penalty. But Villwock is gone, cruises around third lap, Bud second, while Mike Hanson in the DeWALT outruns Jimmy King's U-99.9 by about two-thirds of a roostertail. Muscatel comes around for fifth. All finish.
It is extraordinary that Dave Villwock would choose to beach the Gold Cup champion hull and go with the new PICO today. "It's just as good, if not better," he said. Fred Leland is as confident as anyone can ever remember, sitting in a director's chair with a cat-who-ate-the-canary grin.
Another guy with a grin is Jim Harvey. The mirth doesn't stem from a new sponsor (he's still hunting) so it must be that he and Steve David are happy with their boat set-up. Remember, they won here last year from the Lane 1 that everyone else passed on. The boat has always run pretty good in rough water.
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Mark Tate, Smokin' Joe's Clip Villwock Win Streak
KANSAS CITY, MO. -- (UHRA) -- Still smarting from the collision with Miss Budweiser that prevented him from contesting for last week's Gold Cup in Detroit, Motor City native Mark Tate came here today and took a taste of revenge. He launched his rebuilt Smokin' Joe's past a winner-take-all final heat field to halt "Super Dave" Villwock's two-race winning streak and win the Kansas City Hydrofair.
A three-day crowd not far short of 30,000 watched the purple-and-yellow Camel-powered machine go wire-to-wire with Villwock's PICO American Dream finishing second. Mark Evans, newly installed in the Bud for Chip Hanauer, was third. Hanauer elected to take a leave of absence from the team while he recovers from the Detroit joust with Smokin' Joe's.
Tate won three heats this day and ran second to Evans in a fourth to creep back up to third place in both driver and boat Budweiser/O'Doul's High Points championship races. The 36-year-old Canton MI resident and his boat have 2,928 points, to 4,101 for Villwock and the PICO entry as the Unlimited Hydroplane Thunder Tour '96, presented by LAS VEGAS, heads for its fourth stop June 30 at Evansville, Indiana's Pontiac Thunder On the Ohio.
Defending champ Steve David, Pompano Beach FL, finished fourth in the Hydrofair as the 10-boat field displayed amazing durability. Not a single boat which started a heat failed to finish in an eight-heat day.
HEAT 1A 1. Mark Tate, Canton MI, Smokin' Joe's, 137.490; 2. Steve David, Pompano Beach FL, Harvey Motorsports, 125.127 3. Mitch Evans, Chelan WA, Mill Bay Casino presents Spirit of Lake Chelan, 118.083 4. Rick Christensen, Eatonville WA, Miss Wellness Plan Too, 117.071 5. Mike Jones, Sumner WA, Miss Exide, 106.322. Fast lap--Tate, 139.101 (3rd). Heat 1B 1. Dave Villwock, Auburn WA, PICO American Dream, 142.745 2. Mark Evans, Wenatchee WA, Miss Budweiser, 138.112 3. Mike Hanson, Madison IN, DeWALT Tools, 129.562 4. Jimmy King, Richmond MI, Miss Jennifer, 128.486 5. Ken Muscatel, Seattle WA, Computers & Applications, 109.116 . Fast lap--Villwock, 145.811 (2nd lap). HEAT 2A 1. Dave Villwock, PICO American Dream, 139.445 2. Steve David, Harvey Motorsports, 126.056 3. Mitch Evans, Mill Bay Casino, 116.035 4. Jimmy King, Miss Jennifer, 113.080 5. Mike Jones, Miss Exide, 109.332. Fast lap--Villwock, 145.894 (3rd). HEAT 2B 1. Mark Evans, Miss Budweiser, 144.579 2. Mark Tate, Smokin' Joe's, 140.655 3. Jimmy King, Miss Jennifer, 137.465 4. Mike Hanson, DeWALT Tools, 127.416 DNS--Ken Muscatel, Computers & Applications. HEAT 3A 1. Steve David, Harvey Motorsports, 134.985 2. Mike Hanson, DeWALT Tools, 131.035 3. Jimmy King, Miss Jennifer, 129.516 4. Ken Muscatel, Computers & Applications, 119.832 5. Mitch Evans, Mill Bay Casino, 119.100. Fast lap--David, 136.003 (1st) HEAT 3B 1. Mark Tate, Smokin' Joe's, 147.684 2. Mark Evans, Miss Budweiser, 141.239 3. Dave Villwock, PICO American Dream, 122.910 4. Rick Christensen, Miss Wellness Plan Too, 116.657 5. Mike Jones, Miss Exide, 113.171. Fast lap--Tate, 149.822 (3rd). CONSOLATION 1. Ken Muscatel, Computers & Applications, 132.664 2. Mitch Evans, Mill Bay Casino, 128.845 DNS--Rick Christensen, Miss Exide (Miss Wellness Plan Too withdrew). Fast lap--Muscatel, 137.083 (2nd). FINAL HEAT 1. Mark Tate, Smokin' Joe's, 139.717 2. Dave Villwock, PICO American Dream, 136.938 3. Mark Evans, Miss Budweiser, 134.877 4. Steve David, Harvey Motorsports, 127.904 5. Mike Hanson, DeWALT Tools, 122.750 6. Ken Muscatel, Computers & Applications, 117.848 7. Jimmy King, Miss Jennifer, 106.455. Fast lap--Tate, 144.494 (1st).
(Reprinted from the UHRA Thunder Letter V.2 n.94 June 11, 1996)