1998 Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup

Villwock wins; Muscatel second at Madison

By Steve Garey

The 48th running of the Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup at Madison drew only seven Unlimiteds after being postponed from the traditional Fourth of July date to the Labor Day weekend. The usual crowds of 100,000 didn't materialize due in part to the date change and the opening of football season, which is a "hot" time in this region. Nevertheless, the weather for the regatta was great and the racing proved exciting.

Miss Budweiser led all qualifiers at 160.858 mph for a lap on the 2.5 mile Bill Cantrell Memorial Race Course on the Ohio River. Second fastest was the U-6 Miss Madison, making her first appearance of 1998 thanks to donations from Joe Tate, Buddy Byers, Bob Hughes and hundreds of fans. Driver Mike Hanson got the all-white Miss M in at 149.975. The surprising Mike Weber had the Miss Carpenter Communications rolling and qualified third at 148.449. Mark Evans actually qualified the PICO American Dream second, but was dropped back with an N2 infraction. He climbed back up to fourth with a 147.951 on Saturday. Jim Harvey's U-2 Freddie's Club arrived late Friday following repairs from that ghastly blowover in Seattle, and pilot Steve David did 142.980 on Saturday. Sixth was Ken Muscatel in his Northwest Unlimited, in at 141.855. The piston-powered Master Tire, driven by Mark Weber, rounded out the field at 132.509.

A good field of Unlimited Lights, 6-Litre and 5-Litre boats were on hand to battle between the Unlimited heats. Andy Keogh, nephew of Unlimited owner Brian Keogh, and Mark Burkhardt really brought the crowd to its feet in the 5-Litre finals. Keogh in the Miss Exide and Burkhardt in Keyko Kid II ran side-by-side for four laps with Burkhardt getting the edge at the finish line by a nose.

Bo Shide triumphed over an eight boat field of Unlimited Lights, driving Ned Allen's Alamo. Randy Haas in Miss Leroi was second, and Mike Weber in Pegasus was third. The Alamo also debuted a state-of-the-art, two-speed transmission over the weekend that some say will revolutionize the use of automotive power in boat racing.

Heat 1-A on Sunday was delayed when an electrical failure knocked out the starting clock and computers on the judges' stand. Following a brief meeting, it was decided to run the first heat on the flag start. Miss Budweiser took off in the lead with Miss Madison close in second. Northwest Unlimited was third and Master Tire fourth. That's how they finished, with the Bud compressor stalling all the way to a three-lap average of 137.782 mph.

Heat 1-B was also started with flags. PICO American Dream led a surprisingly strong Miss Carpenter Communications the distance, 133.679 to 131.372. Steve David was complaining about water in the sponsons of Freddie's Club. After crossing the finish line slowly in third, he made a quick right turn at the pit marker buoy and pulled up to the dock for assistance.

The draw for Heats 2-A and B produced the same groupings as in Heat 1, but this time the clock was working. Chief referee Mike Noonan commented that it will be interesting to see the same boats handle two different starting modes.

Villwock and Miss Budweiser again took the lead in Heat 2-A coming out of the first turn. He was followed by Miss Madison, Northwest Unlimited and Master Tire. Ken Muscatel spun the Northwest on turn #4 and stopped. Hanson chased Villwock, but fell back steadily. Muscatel restarted a lap later and ran alongside the Bud until the next turn #4 when Villwock apparently forced Muscatel's boat out and into the outside buoy. No penalty was called on the Budweiser driver. Villwock continued to lead throughout, with Madison second, Master Tire third and Northwest Unlimited fourth.

Mike Weber had a tremendous run in Heat 2-B in the U-9 Carpenter Communications, leading for two laps and holding off Mark Evans in the PICO. Freddie's Club trailed. On lap 3 Evans poured on the coals and outduelled Weber entering turn #1. PICO won by 100 yards over the U-9.

Heat 3-A saw Mark Evans, Steve David and Mark Weber make a good start, with Evans taking the PICO to the front. Carpenter Communications lost a prop shaft sleeve before the start and pulled off course in the first turn area. PICO led Freddie's Club the entire three laps with Master Tire holding a distant third.

To the cheers of the partisan crowds on shore. Miss Madison broke into the lead in Heat 3-B from the outside lanes and proceeded to wash down Miss Budweiser in the first turn and drawing a disqualification. Villwock restarted and chased down the local boat. Northwest Unlimited trailed, but was actually in second place. Madison received no points and was forced to the trailer position in the Final Heat.

The first running of the Final was stopped just after the start when a drowning person on the Kentucky side had to be rescued. At the time of the stoppage PICO was leading. Bud was second.

On the restart PICO on the inside again took the lead and held off the charging Villwock, swinging wide and forcing the Bud out. On lap 2, Evans allegedly forced Bud into the outside buoy exiting turn #4. On turn one, Villwock passed PICO on the outside as Evans' boat hooked slightly. That was enough, and Villwock pulled away. Evans was then penalized a lap for forcing Bud out on lap 2. The hard-charging, steady Ken Muscatel inherited second place, Freddie's Club was third, Madison was fourth and Master Tire fifth.

Steve David spun out on the final turn of lap 5, allowing Mike Hanson, who had worked his way up from the trailer position at the start, to take over third place. Master Tire ran out of fuel and stalled, so the penalized PICO took fourth. David restarted Freddie's Club and finished fifth.

Now, it's on to San Diego with Miss Budweiser (10,903) holding a 3,945 point lead in the national standings over PICO American Dream (6,958) in second, with Freddie's Club (6,805) in third.

(Thunderbolt, October 1998)