Hydro-Prop Announces 2002 Drivers

LAKE HAMILTON, Fla. Hydro-Prop, Inc. has released its roster of drivers and teams for the 2002 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series. Returning this year are many of the popular racers, as well as team owners and crews, from 2001. "We've got an experienced field of drivers assembled for the 2002 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series, and any one of these drivers is capable of winning a race and potentially the championship," said Gary Garbrecht, chairman of Hydro-Prop. "Last year's competition was tough, producing five different winners which means that this season should prove even more exciting to the drivers, teams and fans." Dave Villwock, ...

June 17th 2002

LAKE HAMILTON, Fla. Hydro-Prop, Inc. has released its roster of drivers and teams for the 2002 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series. Returning this year are many of the popular racers, as well as team owners and crews, from 2001.

“We’ve got an experienced field of drivers assembled for the 2002 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series, and any one of these drivers is capable of winning a race and potentially the championship,” said Gary Garbrecht, chairman of Hydro-Prop. “Last year’s competition was tough, producing five different winners which means that this season should prove even more exciting to the drivers, teams and fans.”

Dave Villwock, who is currently third on the all-time win list with 36 victories, will return to pilot team owner Bernie Little’s U-1 Miss Budweiser. Last season, Villwock produced a victory at Evansville, three second place finishes and 14 heat wins on his way to securing his fifth world championship and 21st world championship for Little. Villwock enters the 2002 season seeking to defend the championship and attempting to add to Little’s record of career victories (131) and championships (21).

Jim Harvey announced that veteran Unlimited Hydroplane driver Mark Tate will come out of retirement to drive Harvey’s U-2 Miss Trendwest for the 2002 season. Tate, the 1990 Unlimited Hydroplane Rookie of the year, is a four-time National High Point Champion and has 12 career victories. Tate, who last competed for Harvey in 2000, also is a two-time APBA Gold Cup Champion. Harvey also announced that Trendwest Resorts has agreed to sponsor the U-2 race team for the entire 2002 season.

Team owners Ed Cooper Sr. and Jr. will once again compete on the Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series with the U-3, the only piston-powered Unlimited Hydroplane in the series. Mitch Evans will drive the turbo-charged Allison aircraft engine again this season at every venue. Evans has spent most of his career driving for the Cooper’s and holds the world piston-powered lap speed record of 148.410 mph. The team spent most of the off-season preparing a brand new piston-powered boat, which may make its debut this season.

The Miss Madison, the world’s only community-owned Unlimited Hydroplane, has renewed its sponsorship and will again compete as the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto. Steve David has been selected again to drive after a successful return to the sport last year. David produced one of the most thrilling victories in Unlimited Hydroplane history as he piloted the Miss Madison to victory in front of the hometown fans at Madison. David, the 1988 Rookie of the Year, has four career victories and finished fifth in the championship last season. In 2002, the U-6 will extend its record of consecutive Unlimited Hydroplane seasons to 42.

Bill Wurster, owner of the U-8 Llumar Window Film, has signed Jimmy King to drive the U-8 for another season. King, the 1994 Rookie of the Year, had a podium finish at Madison last season and finished eighth in the championship. This season, King is seeking his first career victory and Wurster’s sixth.

Michael Hanson will again pilot the U-9 for the fourth consecutive year for team owners Mike and Lori Jones. In a terrific battle for the APBA Gold Cup, Hanson outran the competition on the Detroit River and secured his first Gold Cup and the first career victory for Jones Racing. In addition to his victory in Detroit, Hanson secured three podium finishes and finished fourth in the championship. In 2002, Hanson will seek his fourth career Unlimited victory and will attempt to defend the APBA Gold Cup.

With three consecutive second-place finishes in the Championship, Mark Weber returns for another attempt at winning the championship in USA Racing Partners U-10 Miss Emcor owned by Kim Gregory. Owner of two career victories, Weber won seven preliminary heats in 2001. Considered one of the best drivers in the series, Weber’s goal each season has been to win the championship and a victory in front of his hometown crowd at the Detroit Gold Cup, which would go a long way toward reaching this goal.

Nate Brown, the hottest driver on the Unlimited series, returns to pilot the Ellstrom Families U-16 Miss Elam Plus. A former Unlimited Rookie of the Year, Brown won the final two races of the 2001 season at Seattle and San Diego and brings that confidence to the start of the 2002 season. The U-16 team was in the process of completing a brand new boat at the beginning of the 2001 season and thus did not make the first three Mid-West races. This season, the U-16 is ready to challenge for the championship, as it will travel to Southern Indiana and Detroit for those races. Brown’s victories last season were his first and second of his 10-year Unlimited Hydroplane career.

Dr. Ken Muscatel, team owner and driver of Superior Racing’s U-25, returns for another season as the series’ only owner and driver. Muscatel, the Unlimited Rookie of the Year in 1991, is a past commissioner of the sport, the president of the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Seattle, Wash. and a Forensic Psychologist. The team spent the entire off-season basically rebuilding the boat. They widened the tunnel by five inches, reinforced the cockpit, have a new full front wing and have made other changes to the cowling, plenum box, rear wing and air traps.

Longtime Unlimited Hydroplane owner, Fred Leland, will again compete with two boats for the 2002 season. Leland’s Unlimited resume includes 18 career victories, including two APBA Gold Cups, and a World Championship. The U-100 will be piloted by the 1999 Rookie of the Year Greg Hopp and the U-99 will be driven by Terry Troxell.

Greg Hopp’s 2001 season began with four consecutive podium finishes, which included two second and two third place finishes. His fast start propelled him to a third place finish in the championship. Hopp’s third place was the second time he had secured that position in the championship. The first was in 1999, his rookie year, as he became the first Unlimited Hydroplane rookie to secure more than 10,000 points in a single season. Hopp enters the 2002 season still in search of his first career victory.

Terry Troxell began his Unlimited Hydroplane career in 2000 with Fred Leland at the Budweiser Columbia Cup at Tri-Cities, Wash. After a successful second half of the 2000 season for Leland where he produced a heat win and a fourth place finish, Troxell entered the 2001 season looking to compete for a full season. Troxell burst upon the Unlimited scene with his first career victory in only his seventh start as a professional Unlimited driver. Troxell won the Budweiser Columbia Cup and finished sixth in the championship in 2001.

The Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Series begins June 28-30 in Evansville, Ind. with the Budweiser Thunder on the Ohio.