St. Louis, MO (KPLR)— Arthur Kennedy, Jr. had a need for speed. He was one of the first African Americans to become a professional powerboat racer. By the end of his career, Kennedy had set 14 records and was ranked one of the top ten drivers in the world.
"Arthur Kennedy was a graduate of Sumner High School here in St. Louis. His father had a sheet metal business that gradually moved into a heating and cooling business. But young Arthur Kennedy was from his earliest ages interested in boats. And boat racing," said Dr. Robert Archibald.
There were very few places for Kennedy to hone his racing skills in St. Louis. But he managed, running his speedboats in flooded quarries and even the Mississippi river. Despite his fame, he also managed to keep the family business afloat.
"The company prospered under his leadership despite the fact he spent a lot of his time racing boats," explained Archibald.
Arthur Kennedy, Jr. retired from powerboat racing in 1989. Sadly he died young from a heart atttack at age 48. A short life, but one lived at full throttle.