2004 Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio

Evansville goes ahead with independent race:
Miss Budweiser first, Master Tire second

Still bristling over a number of issues and with no sanction from Hydro-Prop™ or the APBA, the Evansville Thunder committee put on an "outlaw" race June 25-27. Under the auspices of the Unlimited Light Hydroplane Racing Association, which provided insurance and safety equipment, five Unlimiteds showed up and put on a show that won't count for national high points, but pleased the crowd nonetheless with high speed duels in all of the four heats.

Since Evansville's race is sponsored by Budweiser, Joe Little's Miss Budweiser team appeared touting their farewell tour. Ed Cooper's Master Tire, the defending Evansville champion driven by Mitch Evans, appeared here, but is not expected at any Hydro-Prop™ events in a dispute over fuel flow monitoring.

Owner Bill Wurster brought two boats: his LLumar Window Film, driven by JW Myers, and the U-19, leased to Ron Jones, Jr and driven by Jimmy King as a last-minute entry.

Rounding out the field was Fred Leland's U-100, driven by Greg Hopp.

The Ohio River was its usual swollen self on Friday, so no action occurred. Late Saturday afternoon the boats were able to make initial test runs and then the first Unlimited heat staged around 4:00 pm. The turbines raced unrestricted with 4.3 gallons per minute fuel capacity. Here's the stats on the first-ever "outlaw" Evansville race:

Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio (unsanctioned, no high points)
Evansville, IN June 25-27,2004 2-mile course on the Ohio River


  No. Entry Driver Heat 1 2 3 Final Final heat speed
1. U-1 Miss Budweiser Dave Villwock 1 2 3 1 141.204 mph
2. U-3 Master Tire Mitch Evans 2 1 1 2 139.157
3. U-8 LLumar Window Film JW Myers 3 4 2 3 138.302
4. U-100 Johnstone Supply Greg Hopp DNS 3 4 DNF  
x. U-19 Empire Contractors Jimmy King DNS DNF - -  


(Thunderboat, August 2004)