RESULTS FROM GOLD CUP 2000
BY ERIC SHARP
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
OK, so he isn't perfect.
But despite losing a
qualifying heat for the first
time this year, Dave
Villwock still drove Miss
Budweiser to a record
10th straight victory
Sunday, winning the
Chrysler Jeep Gold Cup
unlimited hydroplane race
and breaking a mark set 21
years ago by the late and
legendary Bill Muncey.
"Doing something better
than Bill Muncey ...well, that's really something," a
happy Villwock, 44, said after completing a
weather-delayed event on a rough Detroit River
course at a slow average speed of 139.416 m.p.h.
"We had a lot of delays today, and that gave us a
lot of time to change things. The (crew) just kept
making adjustments to suit the conditions, and that
made all the difference in the world," Villwock said.
Second place went to Mark Weber in Miss DYC.
But the guy who was happiest to be there and still
in one piece was rookie George Stratton, who
dodged a bullet and finished third in Appian
N. Mark Evans' Miss E-Lam Plus had stopped
dead in the water just before the start when his jet
turbine engine was hosed down by the roostertail of
another boat. He managed to get a restart, but a
lap later the boat lost its gearbox and shut down
again on the front straight inches from a seawall just
as Weber and Stratton were coming up to lap him.
Stratton said all he could see ahead was spray and
had drifted wide to stay clear of Weber "when all
of a sudden there was (Evans) stopped dead in
front of me. I figured that if I tried to come off the
throttle I'd run right into him at about 150, so I just
stood on the gas, held my breath and went through
between him and Mark.
"I don't think I had two inches on either side."
The buzz on the docks was as much about Miss
Budweiser finally losing a qualifier after winning 15
straight heats as it was about Villwock winning the
Gold Cup. But even that sole loss wasn't without
Miss Bud appeared to cross the finish line first by
300 yards in the final qualifying heat, but the
referees said Villwock had caused a minor collision
and assessed him a penalty lap that placed him last.
While he wasn't happy about the penalty, a big
gash in the bow of Mark Tate's Miss Chrysler Jeep
made it tough for Villwock to argue that he had not
moved into Tate's lane while jockeying for position
seconds before the start.
However, it all came out in the wash for Villwock
and his 30-foot, scarlet jet-turbine boat as he
finished the rough, five-lap, 12.5-mile event 250
yards ahead but 44 m.p.h. slower than the fast
qualifying lap he posted Friday.
After the penalty, Villwock admitted to being leery
about trying to start the Gold Cup in lane 2, and
when Weber managed to take the favored inside
lane, Villwock opted to move out to lane 3.
"I got messed up in lane 2 in the earlier heat, and I
had trouble there in a heat yesterday. But we had
the boat set up to start in an outside lane, and once
I got around clear I had the acceleration and it was
good-bye," he said.
The Budweiser team has three turbine boats, and
Villwock chose to run the Gold Cup in T-5, a 1998
hull that has been rebuilt extensively.
A new boat launched last winter ran nearly as fast
in testing at Detroit, but Villwock said the older hull
seemed to handle the rough water a bit better.
In the only accident of the day, Charley Wiggins
drove Miss Madison to fourth place in an unlimited
qualifying heat, then was knocked out of the Gold
Cup when he flipped a smaller hydroplane in a race
between unlimited heats. He was not injured
Villwock's record 10 victories in a row gave Miss
Budweiser owner Bernie Little his 13th Gold Cup
and 126th unlimited win. Villwock won the last six
races of 1999 and the first four of 2000. Muncey
won the last two races in 1978 and the first seven
Order/speed of FINAL HEAT
1. Budweiser 139.416
2. York 136.693
3. Appian 132.073
4. U-2 Chrysler Jeep 131.365
5. Miss Madison 121.755
FINAL QUALIFYING RESLUTS
U1 Dave Villwock, Miss Budweiser (T-5) 162.850
U10 Mark Weber, York DYC 156.724
U9 Mike Hanson, Carpenter Communications 154.558
U16 N. Mark Evans, Miss E-Lam Plus 153.643
U2 Mark Tate, Miss Chrysler Jeep 152.014
U6 Charley Wiggins, Miss Madison 149.900
U5 George Stratton, Appian Jeronimo 146.835
U8 Jimmy King, Llumar Window Film 145.668
U25 Ken Muscatel, Miss Freei 138.501
U3 Mitch Evans, Vacationville.com 132.413