Thunder on the Ohio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Also see: Sports in Evansville.
Thunder on the Ohio
Thunder on the Ohio
Sport American Power Boat Association
Founded 1938 (reestablished in 1978)
Country  United States, Evansville, Indiana
Most recent

Thunder on the Ohio was a hydroplane boat race in the H1 Unlimited season.

Thunder was held each year on the Ohio River in downtown Evansville, Indiana, United States. Evansville had hosted Thunder on the Ohio consecutively since 1979 (although the race had been founded in 1938). The winner of Thunder on the Ohio received the Four Freedoms Cup, which was named after the nearby Four Freedoms Monument which rests along the Ohio River. The race had frequently been broadcast on major television networks such as ESPN and SPEED.

Evansville had established itself as one of hydroplane racing’s most important venues with superb spectator viewing areas. Historically, most of the world speed records for two-mile courses have been set on Evansville’s sporty tri-oval.

Having hosted its first Thunderboat classic in 1938, only two current race sites pre-date Evansville, Indiana. Madison, Indiana, conducted its first major event in 1929 and Detroit, Michigan, debuted in 1916.


Thunder on the Ohio had been an Unlimited hydroplane mainstay for 31 consecutive years. "Ideal Evansville" replaced Owensboro, Kentucky, on the unlimited calendar in 1979. Evansville was the world headquarters of Atlas Van Lines, Inc., which sponsored Bill Muncey's race team. Muncey played a major role in Evansville being awarded its first sanction.

Thunder on the Ohio was not new to Evansville in 1978. From 1938 through 1940 the 725 Cubic Inch Class boats, the forerunners of the modern unlimiteds, raced at Evansville for the Thunder on the Ohio title. From 1938 through 1940, the winning driver was presented the Seagram Cup instead of the current Four Freedoms Cup.

From 1979 through 2008, Thunder on the Ohio had been the primary event of the broader Evansville Freedom Festival. In 2009, Thunder on the Ohio broke away from the Evansville Freedom Festival, and moved towards the end of August as a stand-alone event. The 2010 event was cancelled because o f financial problems.[1]

Dave Villwock won more Evansville races than anyone else, including seven with Miss Budweiser.

List of winners (1938- 1940)[edit]

Year Driver Boat
1938 Marion Cooper Hermes III
1939 "Wild Bill" Cantrell Why Worry
1940 Marion Cooper Mercury Marine

List of winners (1979- 2009)[edit]

Year Driver Boat
1979 Bill Muncey Atlas Van Lines
1980 Dean Chenoweth Miss Budweiser
1981 Bill Muncey Atlas Van Lines
1982 Chip Hanauer Atlas Van Lines
1983 Chip Hanauer Atlas Van Lines
1984 Jim Kropfeld Miss Budweiser
1985 Chip Hanauer Miller American
1986 Jim Kropfeld Miss Budweiser
1987 Jim Kropfeld Miss Budweiser
1988 Chip Hanauer Miss Circus Circus
1989 Larry Lauterbach Winston Eagle
1990 Tom D'Eath Miss Budweiser
1991 Scott Pierce Miss Budweiser
1992 Chip Hanauer Miss Budweiser
1993 Chip Hanauer Miss Budweiser
1994 Chip Hanauer Miss Budweiser
1995 Mark Tate Smokin' Joe's
1996 Dave Vilwock PICO American Dream
1997 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
1998 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
1999 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
2000 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
2001 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
2002 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
2003 Mitch Evans Cooper Motorsports
2004 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
2005 Steve David Oh Boy! Oberto (Miss Madison)
2006 Dave Villwock Ellstrom Elam Plus
2007 Dave Villwock Ellstrom Elam Plus
2008 Jean Theoret Miss Beacon Plumbing
2009 Jeff Bernard Miss


  1. ^ Shaw, Dan (14 July 2010). "Thunder on the Ohio Silence". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 

External links[edit]