Russ Wicks Breaks Water Speed Record

Seattle, WA (June 15, 2000) — On only his first serious attempt of the day, Russ Wicks, driving the Miss Freei unlimited hydroplane entered the record books by racing over Lake Washington at an average speed of 205.494 MPH, breaking the World Speed Record for a propeller driven boat.  The record run ended the longest-standing major speed record in motorsports history.

"This is absolutely the most exciting day of my professional racing career," Wicks said after the record run.  "This is fantastic for the hydroplane fans throughout the world and especially to the hydroplane fans in Seattle.  We brought the record home to Seattle and to Lake Washington where it belongs."

The nearly four decade old world record, of 200.419 mph was set in 1962 by Roy Duby in the Miss U.S., at Lake Guntersville, Alabama.

The morning began slow as Wicks made a moderate pass through the timing traps.  After making one complete pass, Wicks ran out of fuel.  Team owner, Dr. Ken Muscatel said that there was a calculation problem with fuel consumption which put Wicks and the Miss Freei dead in the water and on the end of a tow rope for 20 minutes.

"The toughest thing after running out of fuel on the shake down run was staying focused, especially when the water conditions were excellent," Wicks said.

After fueling the boat on the trailer himself, Wicks wanted to run a consistent 170 mph through the one mile trap.  In order for him to break the record, Wicks needed to make two runs on a one-mile straight course, in opposite directions, within a 20-minute period.  The two speeds then would be averaged by the American Power Boat Association (APBA) before becoming offical.

Instead of the 170 mph he was aiming for, Wicks made an average run of 195 mph.  "I knew we were going fast because the speedometer in my boat only has numbers up to 200 and from there it just kept climbing," Wicks said after his test run.

The Miss Freei returned to the staging area at Sand Point where crew chief Roger Newton gave Wicks the thumbs up to make his first assault at the record.

Shortly after 10:00 am, Wicks ran the Miss Freei northbound on the lake at 207.254 mph.  With ideally calm water conditions, Wicks quickly turned the boat southbound and entered the mile trap. With throttle left, Wicks made his opposite pass at 203.735 mph to establish the new World Record for a propeller-driven boat at 205.494 mph.

"The radar gun said that my top speed running north was 221 mph exiting the mile.  I knew by the way the boat felt and the temperatures the motor was running we had something," Wicks said.

After breaking the record, Wicks celebrated with sponsors, family, and friends and said it was time to make some adjustments to the Miss Freei and be prepared head to the second race of the hydroplane season in Evansville, Ind. on June 25.

About the Miss Freei Hydroplane

Miss Freei is a regulation propeller-driven unlimited hydroplane featuring a jet-fueled Lycoming L-7C turbine engine (out of a military Chinook helicopter), producing 3,000 horsepower at 10,000 revolutions per minute (rpm).  The boat is 28 feet in length, weighs 6,600 pounds and features a safety canopy from an F-16 fighter jet.  At speed, Miss Freei throws over a ton of water into the air, creating a 200-foot rooster tail shooting up to 40 feet high.

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