2002 Chrysler-Jeep Superstores APBA Gold Cup

It’s Miss Budweiser for the 14th time in classic event on Detroit River

With his dad finally out of the hospital and recuperating at home, Joe Little stood on the dock with his cell phone and called the play-by-play of the final heat back to Lakeland, Florida. On the other end, Bernie Little hooped and hollered as Joe described how Dave Villwock was driving Bernie’s Miss Budweiser to victory in the APBA Gold Cup on the Detroit River.

Bernie has never missed a Gold Cup race in his forty years of racing Unlimited hydroplanes, until now. A bout with pneumonia at the Madison, Indiana race a week earlier had put the legendary boat owner in a Louisville hospital.

Bernie Little’s Miss Budweisers have now won 14 Gold Cups and his driver, Dave Villwock, now has five - four with Budweiser and one with PICO.

This year’s win wasn’t easy for Villwock. Down on power due to fuel restriction rules designed to level the playing field in Unlimited racing, Villwock had to play it smart and hope the other entries made mistakes.

Following the qualifying sessions on Thursday and Friday, Nate Brown and the speedy Miss E-Lam Plus were the fastest at 157.468 mph. But officials stripped Brown of this speed with a good old fuel flow violation, the bane of the sport, leaving Miss Budweiser on top at 156.247.

The staff is still finalizing what will be a great report on this historic race. We’ll have a full heat-by-heat rundown of the Gold Cup next month in Thunderboat, with pictures from Kristyl Girschner, Glenn Gartman and more! Meanwhile, turn the page and view our annual Gold Cup chart.

(Thunderboat, September 2002)