Memorial Day – A Time to Reflect and Appreciate

A patriotic photo from our 1999 Mercury Racing sterndrive catalog.

Happy Memorial Day! The U.S. holiday brings with it a flood of emotions. First and foremost, it is a time to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

The holiday also marks the start of summer. And this year – God knows – summer can’t come soon enough. In Wisconsin – we can whine and cry about our wet, cold Spring or what seems more like the Winter that won’t end. But, with the exception of a few areas, we have escaped unscathed compared to the destruction experienced in the South, the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, New Zealand floods, and other areas affected by mother nature. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by recent storms and natural disasters.

I love summer. I think most people do. Believe it or not – I don’t currently own a boat. But the combination of a VERY long Winter and cold, wet Spring has me yearning to get on the water. I look forward to taking my seven year old son fishing, swimming, tubing, and just enjoy our time on the water. Spending time with my son brings fond memories of myself growing up in Michigan and spending the summers at our family cottage on Lake Superior. I look forward to warmer weather and enjoying outdoor fun with friends and family. I’m sure you are as well.

Be safe and have fun out on the water!

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“We Made It!” …for a Good, Long While.

My favorite cover: 42 McManus “Off Duty” graced Powerboat on PB’s 25th annaversary..

UPDATE UPDATE… (January 2012). Bonnier killed PB again. Jason has moved on to join Sportboat Mag and Matt Trulio’s SpeedOnTheWater.com. I’ve had enough of Bonnier. Good people land on their feet. Poor ownership lands on different parts of their anatomy.

UPDATE! Now (June 2011), Bonnier has said they’re relaunching Powerboat. They’ve rehired Jason Johnson. Maybe our collective, misty-eyed recollections brought them to reconsider. Whatever the reason, good call! Bring it back better than ever, OK Jason?

Here’s what I said before their flip-flop:

I will miss Powerboat Magazine. I was reflecting on some of the stories. I recall so many interactions with great people there. Hanging on the wall in my home is a poster of my favorite cover. The July 1993 issue featured my race, with the late Lisa Nordskog navigating, through the Florida Keys against Motor Trend’s Michael Brockman in a 348 Ferrari. (He won the race, but I got 10 pages and a cover in Powerboat plus six in Motor Trend!)

What I didn’t really notice, until after I received “The Notice,” was that the cover boasted, “We Made It!” 25 years on PB’s hour meter. It never occurred to me that this book would end. It’s Powerboat. I expected 50 years on the hour meter.

Yes, this economy has been tough on all of our industry, its current and former employees, and most of our customers. Budgets had to shrink. Activities and people had to be cut. But it looked like PB had made the right, tough decisions in order to survive – including selling itself. Perhaps obvious in hind sight, not all the right ones. It appears the last independent decision was fatal.

It’s as if Off Duty and the 348 had both run out of gas in Marathon.

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The Loss of Powerboat

My childhood experiences of spending summers on the water — and being exposed to Mercury powered boats from an early age — has a lot to do with my long career here at Mercury Racing. If I wasn’t out enjoying the product on the water, I would read (and dream about) the boat I would buy — by reading Powerboat Magazine. The recent news of Powerboat being shelved (with the exception of a special issue or two) saddens me. Not just from my professional relationship with the magazine – but more so from the long, rich and colorful history of this icon.

Powerboat covered the high performance waterfront!

Bob Nordskog founded Powerboat Magazine in 1968. It quickly earned respect for its timely coverage of the performance boat industry. Performance trials that were honest and accurate. It was unmatched for photography and graphic design. Tech tips and Q & A columns by experts added value and personality. In depth race coverage from all corners of the globe was a unique contribution. PB had it all.

I think Dick De Bartolo may be the lone survivor who was with the magazine from the beginning. I remember reading Dick’s column as a kid – a funny story regarding barnacles sticks in my head. I didn’t realize that he also writes for Mad Magazine until I met him years later. Thanks for the laughs and gadget features, Dick.

It’s been interesting for me to have met and become friends with the editors through time; Mark Spencer, Eric Colby, Gregg Mansfield, Brett Becker, Jason Johnson and Vicki Newton to name a few. My former PB writer friends include tech experts Bob Teague, Terry Tomalin (offshore racing coverage) and Matt Trulio (power & propulsion).

Hearing the news of Powerboat being sold – and retired! – brings mixed emotions. Its like losing an old friend. Our thoughts and support go out to employees affected by the transition and we wish you all the best in your future. We hope to see Powerboat again with a special issue — or a rebirth (I can hope). In the mean time — we’ll cherish the memories of a great magazine and continue friendship with the people who made you great.

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1350s in Nordic 43 Enforcer!

The Nordic 43 Enforcer catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350 sterndrives.

Randy Davis, owner of Nordic Boats, idles by Card Stop #2 during the 2011 Desert Storm Poker Run. This was the maiden voyage of Randy’s new Nordic 43 Enforcer catamaran – and, clearly, he was both impressed and delighted. It is powered with Mercury Racing’s 1350 engine and M8 drive packages. As nice as this boat runs and accelerates, I can’t help but be amazed by the idle quality of its quad cam, four valve engines.

As Randy’s crew glided by for their card, I wanted to capture the engines’ sound. Everybody else aboard just wanted to banter. I guess some people are normal, but I’m an unapologetic engine geek. Nevertheless, I caught some of the idle sound. Johnny B did a great job on the engine calibration! It just purred. Randy’s team did a very tidy installation! The 43 Enforcer’s beauty belies its intense performance.

For wide open engine sound, see and hear the pass by video footage on DCB’s M31 (Gary’s green one) and M35 (Mike’s orange one) and the fleet of 48 MTI’s (Derek’s black one; Bob’s more-or-less orange one and Albert’s uh, very colorful one)! I love the desert colors!

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Alpha Male-Ness Without All The Barking

Mercury wants (and is required) to have exhaust and noise emissions compliant propulsion. By being responsible citizens (you and us), our freedom on the water can continue. Global regulations have caused larger marine engine manufacturers to invest millions of dollars in research and development. In that work, Mercury developed an on-board microprocessor that controls all aspects of engine operating performance – including fuel management and exhaust emissions.  The combination of advanced engine components (hardware), fuel calibration development (software) and extensive testing (more hardware and software) led us to a full line of sterndrives that meet U.S. California Air Resources Board (C.A.R.B.) and Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.  But, as we have learned with experience, emissions regulations are ever evolving.

X-haust Noise Reducer logo: noise in, X, quiet out.
Baja 35 Outlaw with twin 662 SCi’s and X-haust.

Just when we thought our job was done, by meeting the CARB and EPA regulations in place at that time, more stringent ones were being implemented by the European Union (EU) Recreational Craft Directive (RCD). We had to do additional work to create “global” engines that would meet stringent EU RCD exhaust emissions and noise regulations.

We tackled exhaust gas emissions first. The EU662 SCi is he highest horsepower we could attain and still meet the EU RCD exhaust emissions regulation. Also, we were able to adjust fuel calibration on the 600 SCi to make it RCD exhaust emissions compliant.

Then, noise.  Engines, as rigged with a typical through transom exhaust system, didn’t pass RCD noise requirements. Aftermarket mufflers didn’t help. Running exhaust through the prop isn’t an option with our engines: too restrictive. Read more

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Half-Rouen!

Photos Compliments of Gregoire Auger

Race winner Tech Motor Racing Matmut #16 and Class 2 champion Team Dailly Inshore Passion #36.

24 “Half-Hours” of Rouen is in books. The race concluded 4 p.m. Rouen, France time Sunday, May 1. Mercury dominated the 48th annual event, winning overall, as well as Class 3 and Class 2. (See Same Planet, Another 24 Hours) for class designations. Mercury powered boats swept the top 12 positions and powered 22 out of 28 competitors.

Rouen 2011 was historic in that it was the first time the race was not started with the intention of running a continuous 24 hours. Race officials changed the format this year, running the race for a total of 12 hours over two days to avoid racing overnight. The change was made in response to a tragic accident that took place last year. This year, racing started 2 p.m. local time Saturday, April 30 and ran until 8:00 p.m. Racing convened at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 1, with a 4 p.m. finish. Read more

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1350 McCulloch Boulevard!

The 2011 Desert Storm Poker Run is over. And man, what a show it was. We arrived Wednesday in time for the Desert Storm open house party at Oregon Custom Marine (OCM). OCM is a Frisini Motorsports dealer selling Spectre, Sonic and Frisini Motorsports boat brands. We had a great time. We caught up with old friends and met some new ones, too. OCM’s facility is first class. Our thanks to OCM, Lake Havasu Marine Association, Jim Nichols and the Desert Storm organization for their hospitality.

Opening Day

“1350 McCulloch Boulevard.” Home of the Mercury Racing street party display.
Derek Wachob’s 1350 MTI Corvette ZR48 boat. The matching ZR-1 Corvette was parked just to the rear of the boat.

Thursday was the fifth annual Desert Storm Street Party. This was the largest gathering of high performance boats, marine propulsion and tow vehicles ever assembled. McCulloch Boulevard was jammed with displays on both sides of the street for more than a mile. Our Mercury Racing truck was parked in a prime location — perfect for one old gear-head. He looked up from his wheelchair at our QC4v 1100 and said, “Lord Jesus, have mercy.” Gotta be the quote of the day. Read more

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