2002 Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup
Miss E-Lam Plus wins a thriller in Madison
Nate Brown chases down Terry Troxell in Final Heat
by Steve Garey
Following his less than spectacular performance at Evansville, Nate Brown redeemed himself a week later by capturing first place July 7th at the Budweiser Madison Regatta presented by Cruisin' Auto. Brown took the Miss E-Lam Plus to fastest qualifier honors, and then reeled off three heat wins, including a thrilling come-from-behind Final Heat victory over Terry Troxell in U-99 Troxzilla and Dave Villwock in Miss Budweiser.
Madison's 2.5-mile Bill Cantrell Memorial Race Course, laid out on the Ohio River on the Indiana/Kentucky border, provides long, narrow straightaways - necessitating four-boat heats, plus a tight first turn that gives the drivers (and the spectators) all they can handle in the way of action.
Also included in this year's regatta were vintage boats, 2.5 Litre and Grand National hydro races and an air show. UD's Tom Bertolini and Carl Wilson brought their newly refurbished vintage hydros. Country Boy and Tiger; David Williams brought the Miss Madison "movie" boat from Seattle, and Bill Johns had his G-38 Obsession step hydroplane for real nostalgia buffs.
Heat 1-A on race day was not a precursor of things to come as Miss E-Lam Plus jumped the gun by a wide margin. Terry Troxell took the lead out of the first turn and held it. Mark Tate in Trendwest was second and Mitch Evans in Master Tire a distant, but steady, third. Nate Brown physically held second, but the one-lap penalty made him last.
As expected, Dave Villwock took Miss Budweiser up the middle at the start of Heat 1-B and led the distance. Steve David in the defending Madison champion Oh Boy! Oberto held second over a hard charging Mike Weber in Miss Emcor. Ken Muscatel's Security Race Products trailed the distance. At the finish, the Budweiser appeared to slow, allowing Oberto to catch up, but Villwock already had it in the bag.
Afterward, the U-6 Oberto was penalized for striking a buoy, but evidence proved otherwise and Steve David received his second place points.
Heat 1-C saw Greg Hopp in Miss US and Michael Hanson in Miss Bello's Pizza battle into the first turn with Miss US coming out ahead. Jimmy King in LLumar Window Film was third, but off the torrid pace of the leaders. Hopp held off Hanson for three solid laps and won by only a few boatlengths.
Heat 2-A is when Nate Brown started rolling. He made a good start and led wire-to-wire over Troxzilla, Trendwest and Master Tire.
Miss Budweiser, who was forced to start from lane #4, won Heat 2-B handily. This was not to be Steve David's day. His Oh Boy! Oberto was disqualified for running outside the buoyline. Weber, in the Emcor, chased Villwock the distance but was no match. Security Race Products trailed in third.
Mike Hanson and Jimmy King staged a great 3-lap race in Heat 1-C with Hanson's U-9 holding off King's LLumar at the finish. Miss US came in third.
The field was trimmed to eight boats for the two sections of Heat 3. LLumar, Miss US, and Security Race Products didn't make the cut.
Terry Troxell got a beautiful start in 3-A and led down the back chute with E-Lam Plus and Budweiser in pursuit, and Bello's Pizza on the inside lane in fourth. Brown passed Troxell on lap #2 and Villwock passed him at the start of lap #3. Bello's stalled in the #3-4 corner of lap 1, but restarted and finished fourth.
The last elimination heat saw Mike Weber take the start and lead around the first turn. Mark Tate and Steve David were right with him in second and third. Mitch Evans spun the Master Tire at the apex of turn 1, but recovered to continue in fourth place. On lap 3, Oberto went through Trendwest's roostertail exiting the first turn and nearly went over. Steve David was able to settle the U-6 down and finish third.
Jim King couldn't light the fire in the LLumar's turbine engine prior to the start of the Provisional Heat. Tate, David and Muscatel ran in order into the first turn. Tate took the lead and held off David to advance to the Finals. There would be no victory for the hometown boat this year.
The Final Heat was a great race! Troxzilla, making great starts all day, took off and led for three laps with Brown in the E-Lam closing in. Miss Budweiser was third, Emcor fourth, with Bello's and) Trendwest battling for last.
On lap #4 Nate Brown made his move and passed the U-99 for the lead. At the finish of lap 5 Trendwest, still dueling with Bello's Pizza, chugged to a halt. Miss Emcor was disqualified, allowing Hanson to take fourth place.
An elated Nate Brown, together with owner Erick Ellstrom and the U-16 crew, received the Indiana Governor's Cup for the first time. This was Nate's third win as an Unlimited pilot, all three with the Ellstrom team.
(Thunderboat, August 2002)