Mississippi Race

By S. Korowitz
Featured in Intelligencer
January 1991

Howard Arneson likes to prove a point. The inventor of the Arneson swimming pool cleaner and Arneson Surface Drive has, in recent years, been focusing his resourcefulness on gas turbine-powered boats. And to show just how fast and dependable they can be, the 69-year-old Arneson recently drove his turbine-powered 32' Skater from New Orleans to St. Louis, determined to break Bob Cox's Mississippi River Challenge record of 20 hrs.16 min. set in 1987.And beat it he did-by 7 hours and 36 minutes. The race, with a history going back almost 100 years, is run by the Gulf Coast Power Boat Association and sanctioned by the APRA. Competing against three other boats, including another turbine-powered monster (run by Mississippi Race Chairman Ted McIntyre), Arneson averaged 82 mph. Considering his four fuel stops, Arneson, who was both driver and navigator, was actually running the boat at a steady pace of between 100-110 mph. Arneson said that with the huge wakes kicked up by hundreds of river barges, it was like racing in the open sea. For his trouble, Arneson took home a 90year-old trophy and a $10,000 purse. Arneson is now working on a 40-footer with two turbines. Whew.