Skip to main content

Boating has become more popular, especially when you can get a high-performance car in boat form. But, there’s one vessel out there that mimics supercars not by its stylish exterior, but by the power you’d find under the hood of one of these cars. The ‘Problem Child’ was known for having sheer power. What is this boat, and is it the fastest one around?

What exactly is the ‘Problem Child’?

The ‘Problem Child’ is the name of a boat owned by Eddie Knox (also known as “Fast” Eddie). Powering it up is not a jet engine as some other boats use, it’s a 500 cubic inch supercharged Hemi V8 engine, which can produce a jaw-dropping 8,000 hp. The same power setup that you find with some high-performance supercars and it offers far more zip than the most powerful outboard motors on the market. 

The boat’s owner is the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series Top Fuel world champion from 2013 and his boat has been clocked as high as 262.238 mph, which is a record set in only 3.5 seconds, according to Dragzine. Later that year, Daryl Ehrlich was piloting the boat when it flipped twice and crashed while going at 263 mph. 

The vessel was crushed, but the driver survived. After the team rebuilt it using different parts, Ehrlich came back the next day to go again, according to the Daily Mail. The boat also holds at least 15 of the quickest times in history, with the current national time being 3.396 seconds for 258.26 mph. Knox’s ‘Problem Child’ team partners with Kalitta Motorsports NHRA. The nitro-fueled hydroplane boat won the Drag Boat World Championships for several years. 

Is the speedboat the fastest of all time?

The ‘Problem Child’ is definitely one of the fastest boats in history; however, it’s not actually the speediest boat. That title would have to go to the ‘Spirit of Australia’, according to Motorboat & Yachting. Piloting this boat was Ken Warby from Australia who broke the record in 1978 on Blowering Dam located in New South Wales. He managed to get the boat to a speed of 317.6 mph. 

He also was the first to design, build, and get behind the wheel of a record-breaking boat that was a homemade wooden speed boat. This vessel was powered by a jet engine. A second boat dubbed the ‘Spirit of Australia II’, took some of the same design as the original and updated it with improved aerodynamics and was powered by a Westinghouse J-34 jet engine that generated 9,000 hp. 

In 2007 it was handed over to Warby’s son, David who was able to hit 218 mph in 2018, but caused the boat some damage from debris on the water. Eventually, the engines would be replaced with Bristol Siddeley Orpheus powerhouses. The ‘Problem Child’ was one of a few record breakers that weren’t powered by a jet engine. 

Another famous speed boat record

This one is impressive because it goes to the first man who was able to break speed records in both land and water within one year. Donald Campbell, a British competitor, had managed to hit a speed of 403.1 mph in his car, which he called the ‘Bluebird CN7’ in the summer of 1964. In December of that same year, he set out to break a speed record while on Lake Dumbleyung in Australia. 

Interestingly, the record he was after was his own, which he broke a few times over the years. At that time, it was up to 260.35 mph. He still wanted to best his own speed, which he ultimately did using a boat designed and built by him dubbed the ‘Bluebird K7’ and it was powered by a jet engine. This time he pushed his vessel to 276.33 mph. 

He continued to compete until 1967 when he went after a speed record one last time on Lake Coniston. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be as he died that day piloting his record-breaking boat. 

The ‘Problem Child’ is a record-breaker boat that isn’t a jet-powered boat, but one with a Hemi V8 rigged for marine use. This one gets its power from its 8,000 hp Hemi, the same one you’d see on some speedy supercars today. 


The Dependable History of the HEMI Engine