Dave Villwock's 55 wins puts him close to the all-time Hydroplane career win record - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Dave Villwock's 55 wins puts him close to the all-time Hydroplane career win record

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When it comes to the current Unlimited Hydroplane drivers, Dave Villwock stands in rare company for career wins.  He's got 55.

How impressive is that?  The next closest among current drivers is Steve David, driver of the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison.  David won two races last year at Seattle and San Diego giving him 7 career victories.  That's still 48 less than Villwock.

For Villwock, he's closing in on the top drivers in hydro racing history.  He currently sits in third on the all-time list, behind legends Bill Muncey and Chip Hanauer. 

While he can't break the record in the 2008 season, it's within sight.  He'd need a clean sweep of all six race sites in 2008 to tie Hanauer for second place all-time.

TOP FIVE ALL-TIME

"Chip, he's a great driver," said Villwock.  "Bill, I knew when I was little.  He raced limited boats and I got a chance to meet him and talk to him a few times.  He's a great individual and a great driver."

"I'm just happy to be mentioned
in the same company (as Bill
Muncey and Chip Hanauer)"


Dave Villwock
 

37 of Villwock's wins came while driving several different hulls for the Budweiser team.  Some of the hulls are still in use on other teams.  The last 9 wins have been in Erick Ellstrom's U-1 Elam, the same boat Villwock will drive in the 2008 campaign.

During the 2007 season, Villwock reeled off four straight victories in Evansville, Madison, Detroit and Tri-Cities and brought home the U-1 designation as the National High Points team champion.

Villwock told HydroInsider.com he'll "continue to race as long as I can handle it physically."

He had a relatively safe 2007 with no major incidents.  And that's part of the success story for the future.  What's the secret to staying safe?  "It's experience," he said. 

"At some point, every hydro driver either runs into a bad situation or runs out of talent," he said.  He blames himself and his talent for the big flip at the 2006 Columbia Cup.  He did a 360 and landed right-side up.  Despite the damage, the crew was able to piece the boat back together.  Villwock went out and won the 2006 Tri-Cities race.

 
^ ABOVE: TRI-CITIES 2006  

< LEFT: VALLEYFIELD, 2006
He had a close call in Valleyfield in 2006 as well.  Something broke and the skid fin let go.  He managed to muscle the hydroplane away from crowds and up onto a set of rocks on the shoreline.

It could have been disasterous.  Villwiock estimates he was still going 140 or so mph when the skid fin broke.  He missed a patrol boat and hit a rock on the shoreline.  Hard.  "It was as hard as I've ever hit anything," said Villwock.  "Pretty abrupt stop. " His knee was banged up.  He says the belt hit hard against his chest.  But he survived.

"(You) have to be able to take the hits, be at peak performance," Villwock said; "so when something bad happens... the body was able to take the hit."  For that, Villwock credits an off-season training regimen that includes lots of gym time.

Despite the success, he is the driver a lot of fans love to hate.  He quoted Dale Earnhardt, Sr. who once told Dave: "If they ain't booed ya, ya ain't done nothin' yet."  Villwock explains it like this:  "If 51% of the people love you and 49% hate you, I'm happy that 100% care." 

When they stop caring, he said, they stop coming out to watch and support the sport.  That's when he says you have a problem.

Despite the huge advantage in wins over other drivers, it's not going to be easy to win the 8 races he needs to take over the all-time lead.  There's intense competition among drivers and teams.   "(It's) the best the sport's ever offered," said U-16 Elam team owner Erick Ellstrom.  "It's great to race against the best of the best."

So will Dave Villwock get the wins he needs and become the all-time winningest driver in the sport?  "I don't know," he said.  "I don't have a crystal ball."

 "I might never win another race again," said Villwock.   "We don't know what's going to happen.  All I'm trying to do is have some fun at this and just go at every single heat, at every single race, and try to do the best job I can for the team."

The Ellstrom team works hard and the off-season's no different.  "We're going to have all new engines next year," said Villwock at the ABRA awards ceremony; "mostly because I blew up all the stuff last year."

Dave Villwock's Career Wins
Year, Boat, City

2007
Elam Plus

  • Tri-Cities
  • Detroit
  • Madison
  • Evansville

2006
Elam Plus

  • Tri-Cities
  • Madison
  • Evansville

2005
Elam Plus

  • San Diego
  • Tri-Cities

2004
Budweiser

  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • Tri-Cities
  • Madison
  • Evansville

2003
Budweiser

  • Seattle
  • Madison

2002
Budweiser

  • Seattle
  • Detroit
  • Evansville

2001
Budweiser

  • Evansville

2000
Budweiser

  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • Detroit
  • Madison
  • Evansville
  • Lake Havasu

1999
Budweiser

  • Pearl Harbor
  • San Diego
  • Kelowna
  • Seattle
  • Tri-Cities
  • Norfolk
  • Evansville

1998
Budweiser

  • Las Vegas
  • San Diego
  • Madison
  • Seattle
  • Tri-Cities
  • Norfolk
  • Detroit
  • Evansville

1997
Budweiser

  • Las Vegas
  • Norfolk
  • Madison
  • Evansville
  • Detroit

1996
Pico American Dream

  • Kelowna
  • Seattle
  • Tri-Cities
  • Evansville
  • Detroit
  • Phoenix

1994
American Dream

  • San Diego
  • Seattle

1992
Coors Dry

  • San Diego
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