Camperdown Chronicle
Chasing the ton

AT nearly 74 years of age, Peter McDonald is showing no signs of slowing down, in fact he is hell-bent on going faster than ever.

An avid speedboat racer in his younger years, Mr McDonald has returned to the sport and been spotted at Lake Bullen Merri ripping across the water in an effort to crack the 100 mile per hour mark.

“I first started speedboat racing when I was about 18 living over at Paynesville and raced into my late 20s,” he said.

“We used to race at Paynesville, Lake Glenmaggie, Hazelwood Pondage and Marlo.

“I did okay, but never won any major titles or anything.

“My best achievement was getting my 100 mile per hour badge, which was a pretty big deal.”

Reaching the milestone at Lake Eppalock on his third attempt in 1982, Mr McDonald was the 108th person to do so.

“I finished racing not long after that,” he said.

“I remember thinking at the start of every race meeting, which one of us isn’t going to go home tonight, because people were always getting hurt at the races, some even died.

“I had kids by then, so I gave it up.”

Moving to Terang, Mr McDonald’s racing interests were then focussed on the go-karts and AUSCARS, which his sons successfully raced – taking out four Australian go-cart championships and two Australian AUSCAR championships at the Thunderdome.

“Not long ago I saw this boat – a hydroplane – for sale,” he said.

“It’s got a V8 Holden motor in it and was considered state-of-the-art in its day.

“I always wanted one when I was racing but couldn’t afford it, so when I saw it come up for sale, I bought it.”

The boat runs on a three point design, with two sponsons and the propeller making up the three points.

The design allows for air to rush underneath the main body of the boat, to decrease speed resistance.

Practising in calm conditions at Lake Bullen Merri two weeks ago, Mr McDonald recorded a speed of 98.2 miles per hour, but rougher conditions last week and a different propeller saw the top speed drop to 86 miles per hour.

“I’ll keep tinkering and make some adjustments and am pretty confident of cracking the 100 mile mark again,” he said.

“It’s exhilarating going that fast – trying to look at the gauges and everything while you’re bouncing around.

“If you have your visor up, you can’t even open your eye up to see and if you’re racing behind another boat the water spray feels like gravel hitting your face.”

Past experience working on the go-carts and Auscars also comes in handy, while inbuilt data logs record everything from speed and maximum revs to the lake’s altitude above sea level.

Mr McDonald currently races at Lake Eppalock, near Heathcote in the 95 to 100 miles per hour bracket of competitors.

“It’s a lot of fun, but my main focus is firmly on cracking the 100 mile per hour mark and after getting so close to it last week, I’m sure I can do it again,” he said.

“I’ve just got to make a few adjustments and tinker with things a bit more.”