1993 Budweiser Miami Regatta

The last race at Marine Stadium: 1993

Miss Budweiser Sweeps Miami

by Craig Fjarlie

Sometimes, it’s interesting to look back at a race and figure out when the winners and losers were decided. Ideally, there is nothing predictable until the checkered flag comes out for the final heat. On occasion, however, circumstances can change the outcome far in advance.

Mark Tate qualified Winston Eagle at 149.220 mph, setting a course record in the process. The best Chip Hanauer and the Miss Budweiser (‘87 boat) could muster was 146.933. For a while on Saturday afternoon, there was a hint of an upset in the making in steamy Miami. If not an upset, then at least a knock-down, drag-out duel for the victory.

Mark Tate could have stayed in bed Sunday morning. The Winston had run its hot qualifying lap in lane three, sometimes drifting out to lane four. During morning testing before the race, Tate tried running on the buoy line. He couldn’t turn 140, although he held the arc perfectly through the corners. Nevertheless, he chose lane 1.

Going into the first turn of Heat 1-A, Winston poked its nose in front. At the apex, the orange boat suddenly hooked, sending Dave Villwock in Miss Circus Circus and Steve David in Miss T-Plus to the right in self-defense. Circus hit T-Plus and the latter ran aground. Red flags came out and the race was stopped. Winston, the initiator of the mayhem, was disqualified. Budweiser took an easy victory in 1-B, with Mike Hanson in Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes second and George Woods in the Tide a disappointing third.

Dave Villwock ran off with the re-start of 1-A, winning without a challenge. T-Plus was a solid second, even though glue from the repairs was still drying. Mitch Evans in Ed Cooper’s Miss D.O.C. brought up the rear.

Tide and D.O.C. traded sections in Heat 2. Villwock picked lane two. Steve David chose the outside and George Woods wanted lane three. Guess where that left Winston! Heat 2-A was one of the best races of the day. T-Plus and Tide had a superb duel for a lap-and-a half.

Then Woods slid into the roostertail of T-Plus and Tide sputtered to a halt. Winston salvaged a second with Circus third. Tide eventually got going and finished fourth.

Heat 2-B was a parade. Hanauer took the lead out of turn one and the win was his. Kellogg’s was second and D.O.C.was a long ways back in third.

The draw for Heat 3 mixed things up a little, putting Bud and Winston together in 3-A, along with Kellogg’s and D.O.C. Chip took lane two again, and Tate had lane three. Winston tried to make a race out of it for the first lap. but Budweiser ran just fast enough to win.

Winston was second, then Kellogg’s. D.O.C. dislodged a buoy and was penalized a lap.

Tide, badly in need of points, took 3-B in grand style. T-Plus destroyed a buoy in the warm-up and was penalized a lap. moving Steve David down to third. Circus ingested some spray during the warm-up and trailed throughout. Villwock managed to avoid being lapped by David.

The fastest qualifier had to win the last chance heat in order to earn the trailer slot in the final. Tide gave valiant chase, but it was no use. D.O.C.was along for the ride, hoping the salt water would take out the turbines. That might have happened three or four years ago, but not any more.

During the warm-up for the final. Winston developed a problem. A disappointed crewmember threw down his shop rag in disgust as the boat came by the pits doing repeated compressor stalls. As the green flag dropped. Bud and Circus went for the lead. Up the backstretch, the two had a side-by-side show for superiority. It was decided in turn two. Circus swung wide, but Bud stayed inside. Hanauer’s excellent turn gave him the race. By the time Villwock got straightened around. Hanauer was leaving him in the Bud’s wake. Miss T-Plus tried to close on Circus during the heat, but Steve David couldn’t catch the casino craft. Toward the end of the five laps, Kellogg’s closed in on T-Plus, but it was too little, too late. Winston? Dead in the water coming out of the first turn.

Hanauer was congratulated while the inspectors checked the boat Suddenly, the mood in the Budweiser pits turned somber. “They’re trying to throw us out because of our skid fin,” one crewmember said. The URC inspector said the Bud team’s skid fin was too thin by about 20 thousandths. The offending member was taken into the Budweiser truck. Chief Referee Mike Noonan, Bernie Little, Ronnie Brown, and Chip Hanauer all watched as URC Inspector Ed Nelson measured the skid fin again and again.

“Yeah, we won.” In the final analysis, the team received a technical warning and a fine, but the victory stood.

There were long faces in other parts of the pits. The Circus team wanted to press the technical issue against Budweiser. The Tide crew, especially, couldn’t believe their bad luck.

And Winston. The fastest qualifier had failed to make the front row of the final heat because of the incident in Heat 1-A. If Mark Tate had chosen lane two or even lane three at the drivers’ meeting on Saturday, the ou come may have been different. The mechanical failure in the final may still have been a factor, however.

Chip Hanauer has won the last three Miami races. He wins because he drives with his head. At Miami, Hanauer proved again he’s in a league by himself.

[Reprinted from Thunderboat, November 2009]