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Run to Glory: Chasing the World’s Water Speed record 1967-1989 by Donald W. Peterson

Run to Glory: Chasing the World’s Water Speed record 1967-1989 by Donald W. Peterson
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Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz


A short but very interesting little paperback book is Run to Glory, chasing the World’s Water Speed record 1967-1989, by Donald W. Peterson. The author has written and published many books on speedboat racing and this is one of his best and most informative. Run to Glory, chasing the World’s Water Speed record 1967-1989 is a paperback, measuring 6 inches by 9 inches and is about a ½ inch thick with 94 pages. The book has 56 black and white photos, 3 color photos, 2 posters and 7 drawings including the inner workings of famous raceboats. There is a preface by the author, a table of contents, a bibliography broken down by chapters and a good index, which is almost complete. The book is written like a historical text but Peterson loves his subject and it comes alive as interesting and heartfelt. The book is self-published and the only outlet for you to purchase copies is through the author at 360-835-7499 or email him at [email protected], or [email protected]. Run to Glory, chasing the World’s Water Speed record 1967-1989, is a short book but one that can be read then set down for awhile and picked back up again. I found myself reading the book over and over again because it was so short. The photos are somewhat grainy but they help to support the story and the text was well researched and written. Other books by Peterson are; 1) The Oregon Wolf (Pacific Powerboat Racing 1904-1927), 2) Slo-Mo-Shun (The Sayres Legacy), 3) The Harmsworth Trophy, 4) The Spotters Guide for Antique and Classic Outboards, 5) Peterson’s Price Guide for Antique, Classic and Collectable Outboards and 6) Racing Outboards.

There are ten chapters with each averaging about 9 pages each. Run to Glory, chasing the World’s Water Speed record 1967-1989 is really an overview of water speed racing. For more details look through the bibliography for other sources, though much of the research was done in personal archives or newspaper reports. Chapter One concerns Lee Taylor Jr and his efforts to break the water speed record. The chapter is called The End and the Beginning and tells of Taylor’s run for the record, which he set on June 30th, 1966 at Lake Guntersville, Alabama. The boat was called the Hustler, built by master boat builder Rich Hallett Sr. Taylor’s crew chief was Johnny Beaudoin. Chapter Two is titled Art Arfons and the Green Monster Cyclops and tells how the famous land speed record setter got involved in the pursuit of the water speed record. The boat never did reach a satisfactory plane and the team gave up and returned to land speed racing. Chapter Three is named The Saga of Johnny Beaudoin and relates to the argument that broke up the Taylor/Beaudoin team. Taylor left and new owners took over and put Beaudoin in charge. Beaudoin came close but could not break Taylor’s record. Chapter Four is called More Challengers and discusses Lee Taylor’s attempts to take a new raceboat, U. S. Discovery I to the record, but lack of sponsorship and money doomed his efforts. Chapter Five is entitled Warby and is about the Australian challenger. Ken Warby is one of those unique men who enter the scene when most of the action seems to have ended and breathes new life into the sport again. Warby begins racing in the Hellcat, then to the Monte Cristo and finally to his crowning achievement, the J34 Westinghouse Jet engines which provided the power for the Spirit of Australia. On October 8, 1978 Ken Warby piloted the Spirit of Australia to a two-way speed of 317.596 mile per hour record.

Chapter Six is named U.S. Discovery II and is the race boat that Lee Taylor hoped would successfully allow him to recapture the water speed record from Warby. The beautifully styled race boat had the power and ability to recapture the record but in a tragic accident the boat crashed and Taylor drowned. This accident robbed the boat racing world of a first class boat racer. It also took away a threat to Ken Warby’s record, but worse, without a fierce competitor it made Warby’s job of raising sponsorship money much harder. Chapter Seven is called The British Pursuit Team and discusses the efforts of Tony Fahey and the British to recapture the water speed record that they had held for so many years prior to Taylor and Warby. The race boat was to be called the Alton Towers. Chapter Eight is titled Craig Arfons Challenge and talks about the attempt of the Arfons family to reenter the water speed contest. Craig and David Loebenberg built the Rain X Challenger with the help of Eliminator Boats and Ken Warby. The record holder helping to build the challenger is not necessarily against his interests. Remember, Warby needed competition to be able to get funds for future water speed records for his own boat. Arfons easily took the speed up to nearly 350-mph and the boat simply flew over the water with only the tip of the bottom touching the froth. On the return record run the boat encountered problems and flung Arfons through the canopy, killing a very brave man. Warby’s record was safe but it was not what he had wanted and funds for Warby’s efforts waned. Chapter Nine is named The Challengers; Excalibur, Spirit of America, Quicksilver and American Challenge. None of these boats seriously challenged the Spirit of Australia’s record and so Warby designed and built his own challenger which he named Aussie Spirit and is in the testing stage. Chapter Ten is called Jet Boat Contenders from an earlier Era and should really have been in the beginning of the book. For light and interesting reading this is a good book to add to your library on speed.

Gone Racin’ is at [email protected]