2000 Budweiser Thunder on The Ohio

Evansville Thunder on the Ohio Preview

(Evansville, IN) - The Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series continues this weekend in Evansville, Ind., with the annual Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio. Miss Budweiser driver Dave Villwock, coming off a dominant effort at the season-opening event in Lake Havasu, Ariz., is the four-time defending champion at the Evansville event and currently holds a 385-point lead in the championship battle.

Villwock and the Miss Budweiser scored an impressive victory at the Mohave Unlimited Hydrofest at Lake Havasu. But, as a result, they will be the first to feel the pinch of the UHRA's new fuel restriction rule. The Miss Budweiser will compete throughout the Evansville weekend with a fuel flow reduced to 4.2 gallons per minute (GPM) instead of the standard 4.3 GPM. The reduction in fuel is expected to cost nearly 100 horsepower.

A number of drivers are expected to challenge Villwock at Evansville, including Mark Tate, Mark Weber and Greg Hopp. Tate, in the U-2 Freddie's Club Casino, is currently in second place in championship points after a strong second place finish at Lake Havasu. Close behind Tate are Weber, in the U-10 YORK Heating & Air Conditioning, and Hopp, in the U-100 Miss Project X. "These three guys all drive hard and have a lot of experience," said Villwock.

Rookie Charley Wiggins will make his Unlimited hydroplane debut at Evansville in the U-6 Miss Madison. Though a rookie in the Unlimited class, Wiggins has enjoyed considerable success throughout his career racing boats and has been chosen to drive the world's only community-owned Unlimited hydroplane and the oldest racing team on the Unlimited circuit. "I am really excited to begin this season and it's a great honor to represent the fans and the city of Madison," said Wiggins.

Jimmy King, in the U-8 LLumar Window Film, will also make the Evansville event his first race of the Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series. The U-8, owned by Bill Wurster, will be racing in its 20th consecutive season.

Mitch Evans returns to drive the Evansville-based U-3 for Ed Cooper Sr. and Jr., the only piston-powered Hydro on the Unlimited tour. "We have a long racing tradition with Mitch from when he drove for us from 1988-1997, and we look forward to have him back racing in our U-3," said Ed Cooper, Jr.

Practice and qualifying for the eleven-boat field will begin for the Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio Friday, June 23 with the finals scheduled for Sunday, June 25. The race will be televised on ESPN2 on Saturday, July 8.