1989 Season Summary


1. May 21 Exxon Blastoff Thunderboat Regatta Houston, Texas
2. June 4 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Championship Miami, Florida
3. June 11 Budweiser Spirit of Detroit Trophy Race Detroit, Michigan
4. July 2 Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup Madison, Indiana
5. July 9 Budweiser Thunder On The Ohio Evansville, Indiana
6. July 16 Pringle's Family Thunderboat Classic Syracuse, New York
7. July 30 Budweiser Columbia Cup Pasco, Washington
8. August 6 Seafair Rainier Cup Seattle, Washington
9. September 17 Budweiser APBA Gold Cup San Diego, California
10. September 23 Budweiser Las Vegas Silver Cup Las Vegas, Nevada


  Winner Crew Chief Designer Builder Engine
5/21 Miss Budweiser (18) Ron Brown Brown-Jones Ron Brown Lycoming
6/4 Mr. Pringle's (2) Dan Heye Jones-Heye Jones-Heye Lycoming
6/11 Miss Circus Circus (4) Dave Villwock Lucero-Jones Jim Lucero Lycoming
7/2 Miss Budweiser (18) Ron Brown Brown-Jones Ron Brown Lycoming
7/9 Winston Eagle Jim Lucero Jim Lucero Jim Lucero Lycoming
7/16 Miss Budweiser (18) Ron Brown Brown-Jones Ron Brown Lycoming
7/30 Cooper's Express Ed Cooper Jr. Mitch Evans Mitch Evans Allison
8/6 Miss Circus Circus (5) Dave Villwock Jim Lucero Jim Lucero Lycoming
9/17 Miss Budweiser (18) Ron Brown Brown-Jones Ron Brown Lycoming
9/23 Miss Circus Circus (4) Dave Villwock Lucero-Jones Jim Lucero Lycoming


  Built Boat High Points Total Team Points
1. (1989) Miss Budweiser (18) 11027 (1)
2. (1987) Miss Circus Circus (4) 8634 (2-9734)
3. (1988) Holset Miss Mazda 7759 (3)
4. (1982) Oh Boy! Oberto (6) 6922 (4)
5. (1988) Mr. Pringle's (2) 6913 (5)
6. (1984) Winston Eagle 5910 (6)
7. (1988) Cooper's Express 4369 (7)
8. (1982) Miss Marina Casino-Hotel 3388 (8)
9. (1979) Nevada Palace 1755 (9)
10. (1984) U.S. West Cellular 1411 (10)
11. (1984) Miss Circus Circus (5) 1100  
12. (1988) Sundek 694 (11)
13. (1987) Miss Tri-Cities (4) 675 (12)
14. (1980) Miss Northwest 225 (13)
15. (1984) Miss Rock KISW-FM (4) 169 (14)


  Driver High Points Total
1. Chip Hanauer 9734
2. Mike Hanson 7759
3. George Woods 6922
4. Scott Pierce 6913
5. Tom D'Eath 6125
6. Larry Lauterbach 5910
7. Jim Kropfeld 4902
8. Mitch Evans 4369
9. Steve David 3388
10. Jerry Hopp 1755
11. Todd Yarling 1411
12. Ron Snyder 1144
13. Pierre Lavigne 225
14. Jack Schafer 225
15. Jack Barrie 169



After the 1988 season there were five boats that were competitive at various times during the year. The principal contender was Miss Budweiser which won four of nine regattas and had a significant advantage on three occasions in 1988. She also went over three times in a little over a year which inspired the Budweiser team to build a new boat that would pack less air under the hull.

There had been a shake-up in the Miller - Circus camp. Miller Brewing did not want to meet the budget requirements to contend against Budweiser and dropped out of Unlimited Racing. Circus Circus opted to lease both of Fran Muncey's boats and she decided to bow out having grown tired after seven years of following the circuit each summer.

Chip Hanauer stayed on as driver and the crew chief duties were taken over by Dave Villwock, a limited driver of some renown.

The 1987 hull was fitted with Ron Jones sponsons with the 1984 hull that flipped over at San Diego repaired as a back up.

At the end of the 1988 season Mr. Pringles was on a roll, posting the fastest lap at San Diego and defeating Miss Budweiser in an elimination heat at Las Vegas. Scott Pierce returned as driver. Dan Heye was back as crew chief.

Steve Woomer, who was unsponsored at the beginning of the 1988 season, got Winston Eagle for 1989. Immediately crew chief-designer Jim Lucero planned a new boat of a different design to avoid blowovers. Unfortunately the new hull was not completed in time to test the design and the team went with last year's boat.

Of the contenders the ex-Vantage Ultra was in contention at only one event in 1988 being as much as 8 m.p.h. behind Budweiser.

Jim Kropfeld after breaking his neck in the first race of 1988 returned to the Budweiser cockpit. There was some questions as to whether Kropfeld would be the same driver as before. In the wings was Tom D'Eath who had won four of eight races with the 1987 Miss Budweiser as opposed to Kropfeld's record of five of seven with the same boat.

The new Miss Budweiser was sloppy in the preliminary heats at Houston in the initial race of the season, but had it when it really counted in the final to win the Exxon Blastoff Regatta. Circus Circus had won two preliminary heats but lost in the determinative confrontation due in part to a loose canopy. Winston Eagle took heat 2-A from Mr. Pringles who did not win a heat all day long.

The salt water at Miami was next for the 1989 fleet. Three of the four turbines went the distance with Budweiser and Circus Circus entering the championship heat having run well in the elimination heats.

Miss Budweiser and Circus Circus went at it in the final heat with Budweiser hooking in the first lap losing the lead to Circus Circus. In the second lap Miss Budweiser regained first place but slowed in lap four allowing Circus Circus to go by. Circus went on to win the heat/however she was penalized a lap for jumping the gun. This gave the race to Mr. Pringles who was 25 seconds behind Circus at the end of the scheduled distance. Pringles ran poorly in the elimination heats and was a distinctly third place boat in the championship heat.

At Detroit Circus Circus and Budweiser exchanged wins in the preliminary heats. The other turbines weren't close although Mr. Pringles flipped in heat 1-B while leading Winston Eagle. In the final Budweiser also went over in the initial turn while in front of Miss Circus Circus. In the re-run Miss Circus Circus had everything her own way to win the Budweiser Thunderboat Championship.

The Hughes plan was run at Madison for the fourth straight year. Miss Circus Circus and Miss Budweiser were again equal boats on the beautiful Ohio. However Circus Circus ran a ragged race and Miss Budweiser was flawless to take all four of her heats.

Miss Budweiser was not the equal of Miss Circus Circus at Evansville and was clearly defeated in the preliminaries. In the final Budweiser got a bad start amid flailing roostertails and finished last. Miss Circus Circus easily took the championship heat, but was penalized a lap for hitting a buoy approaching the start.

This gave Budweiser Thunder-On-the-Ohio to the Winston Eagle. The Eagle beat Mr. Pringles to get the trophy. Both boats were possibly near contenders at Evansville. Eagle like Pringles at Miami was lucky to win.

The 1989 Miss Budweiser, designed to eliminate the blowover tendencies of her predecessor, blew over at Detroit. In addition she was not a good ride according to Jim Kropfeld being flighty at times and a hard ride when glued down to the water. The Budweiser problems were especially acute at Evansville with the Anheuser-Busch kiting for the second straight race.

This caused Jim Kropfeld to give the crew an ultimatum to settle the hull down. The crew disagreed with Kropfeld and owner Bernie Little chose to let Kropfeld go in favor of Tom D'Eath.

The next race event was at Syracuse and again Budweiser and Circus Circus were in effect the only boats there. Syracuse decided to use the Madison Hughes Plan.

The two top contenders met twice in the elimination heats and traded victories. Nevertheless Miss Circus Circus was away to a good lead in the championship heat when she went over on the backstretch. Miss Budweiser had made a less than scintillating start. In the rerun Miss Budweiser had an easy time of it and won the Pringles Thunderboat Classic. Mr. Pringles had her second blowover of the season at Syracuse.

Circus Circus showed up at the Tri-Cities with their back up hull, but had further bad luck tearing out their rudder twice thus not being able to participate in the Columbia Cup. This gave Miss Budweiser an excellent chance to improve her slim High Point lead.

Miss Budweiser had nine m.p.h. on the field and gained 1025 High Points over Circus, but lost the championship to Cooper Express, a piston powered also-ran. Miss Budweiser was cruising in the final on her way to an untroubled triumph when she cut to the inside. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to driver Tom D'Eath, Holset Miss Madison had nearly caught up and was washed down. The incident caused Miss Budweiser to be penalized and the Cooper Express won in effect her home port regatta at the Tri-Cities.

Circus Circus again had to run their back up hull at Seattle. Surprisingly she exchanged heat wins with the Miss Budweiser in the elimination heats. In the final Circus took lane 2 and pinched Miss Budweiser into the rough water found in lane one. This gave Miss Circus Circus a two second advantage at the end of lap 2. In the following lap Budweiser got wet and Circus Circus captured the Seafair Rainier Cup. This was perhaps Chip Hanauer's greatest triumph as he took a hull with demonstrably dated sponsons and beat the state of the art Ron Jones models on the Miss Budweiser.

San Diego was next on the tour - the turbines having won only four of ten races on the salt water. It was the Gold Cup and the piston packers had a real chance to take this most prestigious trophy. In addition Miss Budweiser would be confronted with the #1 Circus Circus.

Miss Budweiser and Circus Circus each won two preliminary heats, but failed in a third preliminary. In contrast Mr. Pringles had finished all her elimination heats in good shape. Interestingly this could not be said of the top piston entries.

Chip Hanauer lost his chance for an eighth straight Gold Cup that would have tied Bill Muncey's record when Circus Circus glided to a stop just past the starting line of the championship heat. Miss Budweiser got off to a promising start, but as her first place laps went by she got slower and slower until last year's San Diego winner Oh Boy! Oberto went by in the first turn of the final lap. However Miss Budweiser came to life again on the last backstretch and off the final turn was bow to bow with Oh Boy! Oberto. Turbine power prevailed and Miss Budweiser won by 75 feet - the closest Gold Cup in many years (only the 1955 and 1964 races being comparable).

Due to the shut out of the Circus Circus team at the Tri-Cities the High Point race was not close heading into the final regatta of the season at Las Vegas. Since Vegas would be using the Hughes Plan it was still mathematically possible for the Circus to win the Championship of the season.however.

Budweiser insured the title when she took a second place to Miss Circus Circus in heat 1-B. In the final Circus Circus got inside of Budweiser and captured the Las Vegas Silver Cup. Budweiser was handicapped having a damaged ram wing and a broken winglet.

It was an exciting season. Both Budweiser and Circus would have won five races apiece if not for the miscues of their drivers. Eliminating the Tri-Cities failure of the Miss Circus Circus the championship would have gone down to the last wire as in some other years.

[Statistics and comments from Greene, V.2]