You Can't Top Speed

Nothing inspires, soothes or reassures us like hair-on-fire blazing speed.

A guy I knew at Lake of the Ozarks, in the throes of divorce and suffering the usual stress, decided a night ride in his go-fast would soothe the anxiety. He powered up the twins and spent the better part of the evening blazing through hard-over turns and roaring hole shots until, upon clearing one of his plowed up wakes, he smacked down hard, splitting the hull. His rig sank out from under him, eliminating one of the bones of contention in the divorce, and when he swam ashore he realized it: Speed had soothed him.

You can’t make this stuff up.

On Friday nights at our family resort and marina at Lake of the Ozarks, autoworkers would carpool in from St. Louis, boats in tow, at about 11:30. It was back in the ’80s, that era of attainment, and there was no open-container law in Missouri, so the first things they wanted after plunking down their “earned-in-overtime” cash were directions to the rest room and then directions to the launch ramp.

Their boats were usually just runabouts, 20-footers measured in the day when the swim platform and anchor davit didn’t count. Horsepower on those stern-drives, at 205, came from Ford 305s. And when the designated drivers shook those hung-over boys and girls out of bed the next morning, they raced each other to Klotzies Oar House or the Clown for breakfast. One mile per hour is what separated winners from losers, and the losers decided it was better to buy more horsepower than pick up the meal tab.

Speed is a quest unquenchable, and it has been since man domesticated horses. Speed is unforgiving, declaring winners in undisputable glory and losers without mercy. There must be a gene that drives us.

Well, this issue has crafted itself around that gene, as automatically and inexorably as the urge to firewall the throttles.

I know you must. Even in my modestly powered offshore rig, I press those levers to see if the seas and humidity and temperature have aligned to allow me to clock a personal best speed in excess of the usual 51 mph. I won’t believe you don’t do the same.

Why else would the Davis family at newly formed Seven Marine build a 557 horsepower outboard in today's world? And why has MerCruiser introduced an enormous new power plant for go-fast guys? See our peek at that engine in June. Ostentatious consumerism may seem out of vogue to some, but thank goodness boaters still respond to the string of DNA that makes it profitable to build a new go-fast like the Donzi 35 ZR.

Even if you putt-putt through your favorite waters, you can't help but be awed and inspired by the men and women whom Pete McDonald has brought to life in "Greed for Speed". Whether you see their rigs between the covers of Boating magazine or streaking by on your favorite boating waters, even if you're one of those annoyed by the macho display, a part of you wants to be at the helm — even if just one time.

This issue is for you.

Randy Vance, Editor-in-Chief
editor@boatingmag.com