Hydroplane racing has been around Tri-Cities since 1966. This season marks the 47th season of the Tri-Cities Water Follies. When the vintage hydroplanes hit the water this weekend you will hear that familiar sound of thunder on the river with the roar of the Rolls Royce merlin or griffon engines that powered these boats around the course at unbelievable speeds.

A beer distributor out of Florida jumped into the hydroplane game in 1963 with his 1963 4 seat beer wagon the Miss Budweiser. Bernie Little changed the entire sport. He bought as many engines as he could get his hands on, he built new hulls, hired the best driver & crew and dominated the sport.

In the Neil F Lampson pits at the east end by the blue bridge there is a big oak tree that Bernie used to park his bus and boats under. Even after Bernie Little passed away that tree is still known as Bernie’s Tree

The Miss Budweiser has won several titles on this river and they have also met with tragedy. Dean Chenowith was killed on this race course. Dave Villwock also had a terrible accident and lost part of his hand in a blow over.

So here is a little tribute to Bernie Little, The Miss Budweiser and the beer boat that made this sport what it is today.