Chuck Mistele has owned Miss America IX for more than 40 years, and he had rarely seen the legendary race boat become a three-point hydro. He normally runs the boat by the sound of the engines, which works out to around 80 mph. On March 29, he ran across Lake Dora a bit quicker than normal. This time, Chuck was wearing custom-made ear plugs and didn’t really know how fast he was going. “The sound is what I’ve gone by all these years,” recounted Mistele. “I was too busy watching the water. But I tell ya, we were flying.”
Said riding mechanic Terry Fiest, “We were going well above 80 but I never did look at the tachometers. After looking at the photos with the skin on our faces pulled back, that’s faster than I care to go. I’m not accustomed to the sound with those ear plugs. We were going a lot faster than we should have been going, but there was a whole lot left because I didn’t have the throttles all the way forward.”
Without the original Packard engines, Miss America IX is several thousand pounds lighter with the four bolt GM blocks, and with that weight savings, the boat performs wonderfully. The bow rudder breaks up the water surface that flows under the step, enabling the hull to ride on bubbles. Nothing touches the water. Gar Wood’s designer Nap Lisee placed the step for the perfect attitude when racing at high speeds. Packard retained ownership of its engines, which were installed in Miss America X, also owned by Mistele.
Describing the feeling when the three-point hydroplane comes to life, Mistele said, “When you break the bottom suction where the stern lifts up, technically the rpm don’t change much but it’s like hitting the afterburner on a jet because you’ve just cut the wetted surface in half; it just takes off. You can feel it in the boat; it sets you right back in the seat.”