2004 Chevrolet Cup Revisited
By Fred Farley - ABRA Unlimited Historian
The fifth stop on the 2004 Unlimited hydroplane series tour marked another triumph for MISS BUDWEISER owner Joe Little, driver Dave Villwock, and crew chief Mark Smith on August 8 in the Chevrolet Cup.
Villwock and MISS BUDWEISER/Turbine-6 (U-1) were physically second in the Final Heat on Seattle's Lake Washington. But officials ruled that front-running Terry Troxell and MISS E-LAM PLUS (U-16) had jumped the gun and had to run an extra lap. This elevated Villwock and the "Beer Wagon" from second to first to victory, ahead of J.W. Myers in LLUMAR WINDOW FILM (U-8), Steve David in OH BOY! OBERTO (U-6), Troxell in MISS E-LAM PLUS, and J. Michael Kelly in GRAHAM TRUCKING (U-2) in the corrected order of finish.
Eleven Unlimiteds attended the 54th annual Seattle event, the same number that participated in the July 25 "outlaw" Columbia Cup at the Tri-Cities, Washington, which was also won by the MISS BUDWEISER team.
MISS E-LAM PLUS posted the fastest time trial lap at Seattle with a speed of 152.548 over the 2-mile course. Nate Brown and MISS EMCOR (U-10) were second fastest at 148.392, ahead of LLUMAR WINDOW FILM, which did 146.848.
Then came Steve Hook and BEACON PLUMBING (U-99) at 145.539, MISS BUDWEISER/Turbine-5 at 143.965, MISS BUDWEISER/Turbine-6 at 143.910, OH BOY! OBERTO at 142.766, Greg Hopp and TOYOTA OF KIRKLAND (U-100) at 139.713, Doug Brow and SKYWAY PARK BOWL & CASINO (U-00) at 139.362, Ken Muscatel and KISW MISS ROCK (U-25) at 139.278, and GRAHAM TRUCKING at 138.262.
For the first time in Seattle, Heats 1-A and 1-B were run on Saturday, August 7. The remaining heats were run on Sunday.
The one major mishap of the weekend was the accident to MISS EMCOR, which flipped during Heat 2-A. Pilot Brown fortunately escaped serious injury.
None of the heats of the Chevrolet Cup had assigned starting lanes. An exception was made for the two rookie drivers (Hook and Kelly), who were assigned the outermost lanes during Heat One.
U-99; (2) U-100; (3) U-25; (4) U-10; (5) U-6.
A blanket start saw U-99 first across on the outside. U-100 led out of the first turn, followed closely by U-6 and U-99. U-10 stopped in the first turn but restarted. U-100 led for a lap and three-quarters until passed by U-6. U-99 passed U-100 on lap-two. U-6 physically led after the regulation four laps but had to run a penalty lap due to a lane-change infraction.
(1) U-1; (2) U-16; (3) U-8; (4) U-2; (5) U-00.
U-1 moved to the inside lane during the warm-up period. The start was ragged with U-8 first across. U-1 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-16 stayed within the length of U-1's roostertail until U-1 pulled away on lap-two. U-8 began to make up ground on U-16 but slowed down on lap-four. U-00 was physically third but was penalized a lap for dislodging a buoy.
HEAT 2-A (initial start)
All boats were early at the start with U-6 jumping the gun. U-16 led out of the first turn. U-10 hit a roller in the second turn of lap-one and flipped upside-down. The heat was stopped before anyone finished lap-one. U-16 was in the lead at the time of the stoppage.
U-1; (2) U-8; (3) U-99; (4) U-25; (DNS) U-00.
U-8 crossed first in a blanket start. U-1 led out of the first turn and pulled away to a substantial lead before the end of lap-one. U-25 hit a buoy and was penalized a lap. U-8 passed the penalized U-25 on lap-three. U-8 and U-25 see-sawed on lap-four until U-8 pulled away. U-99 stayed within striking distance of U-8 and U-25 and was physically fourth (but legally third).
HEAT 2-A (re-run)
U-2; (2) U-16; (3) U-100; (4) U-6; (Withdrawn) U-10.
Three boats jumped the gun: U-6, U-16, and U-100. U-6 also hit a buoy. U-2 was physically last all the way but ended up as the legal winner. U-16 pulled away on lap-one to maintain "first" position throughout. U-6 and U-100 see-sawed for "second". U-6 was ahead of U-100 at the end of the regulation four laps but had to run two penalty laps.
(1) U-8; (2) U-6; (3) U-99; (4) U-00; (5) U-25.
U-6 crossed first in a blanket start and led into the first turn, but U-8 led out of it. U-6 stayed within U-8's roostertail length until U-8 pulled away on lap-two. U-99, U-00, and U-25 ran close together on lap-one but then spread out on lap-two.
U-16; (2) U-1; (3) U-2; (DNF) U-100.
U-16 led from wire-to-wire after a blanket start. U-100 stayed within striking distance of U-16 for several laps. U-1 passed U-100 on lap-three just before U-100 went dead in the water. U-2 trailed way back. Heat 3-B was the fastest heat of the weekend with U-16 averaging 138.809 for the 8-mile distance.
U-6; (2) U-25.
U-6 crossed first on the outside. U-6 led U-25 out of the first turn and throughout. U-25 trailed U-6 by one roostertail length after lap-one before U-6 pulled away.
U-1; (2) U-8; (3) U-6; (4) U-16; (5) U-2; (DNF) U-99.
The Final Heat proved to be very controversial. Several boats were accused of being "off-plane" before the start for longer than the allowable 5 seconds. But Director of Competition Rick Sandstrom ruled that no infraction had occurred.
U-1 and U-16 stalked each other before the start and were way early. Both slowed down to a crawl. U-16 jumped the gun by about a boat length. U-1 was barely a boat length from the line at the moment of clock zero.
U-16 "led" out of the first turn and pulled away. U-1 ran a steady "second" and did not attempt to pass the penalized U-16. U-8 stayed within striking distance of the legally leading U-1 for one lap before U-1 pulled away. U-16 managed to lap the trailing U-2 for an official fourth-place. U-99 ran one lap behind U-16, U-1, and U-8 before conking out on lap-two. U-2 stopped in the first turn of lap-one but restarted to take fifth-place.
U-1 averaged 132.318 for the 10-mile distance, compared to 129.366 for U-8 and 125.373 for U-6.
MISS BUDWEISER driver Dave Villwock increased his victory total in the Unlimited Class to 45 at the 2004 Chevrolet Cup. He has now won eight times in Seattle since 1994--twice with PICO AMERICAN DREAM and six times with MISS BUDWEISER.
In an obvious reference to the BUD's fuel restriction, Joe Little commented, "Dave proved once again that he is a magician and master strategist. We joked all weekend long that he [Dave] would have to pull a rabbit out of his hat to win here this weekend."
The team founded in 1963 by the late Bernie Little now has a total of 17 victories in the Seattle Seafair Regatta in 42 years. The first was in 1969 with the late Bill Sterett as driver and the late George McKernan as crew chief.