OptiMax Powers Kris Shepard to Bay City F2 Victory

Photo Credits: Paul Kemiel Photographics

Kris Shephard’s boat suffered a gaping hole in the starboard sponson after colliding with Jeff Reno in turn one. A roll of duct tape and two restarts later, Kris captured the F2 checkered flag.

Kris Shepard of Antioch, Illinois, driving his Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard Hoffchild hull, won the 30-lap Dow Bay City River Roar Formula 2 race Sunday, June 26.  The race was round two of the 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour tunnel boat racing series. See my blog, Shaun Torrente Wins Bay City River Roar for coverage on the Formula 1 race.

Kris started from the pole in a rough race.  He and Jeff Reno collided going into in turn one. Neither flipped – but the incident created a gaping three foot hole on the starboard sponson of Kris’s boat.

Kris Shepard takes a victory lap in his Mercury OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard powered Hoffchild hull.

“It was filling up with water in the turns,” said Kris. As luck would have it, the race was stopped shortly after when another competitor flipped. Chris Fairchild and 20 fellow racers and crew members worked feverishly in the pits – cover the hole with duct tape and whatever else they could find. Kris said he would have never been able to finish the race – let alone win – without their help.  Read more

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Shaun Torrente Wins Bay City River Roar

Photo Credits: Paul Kemiel Photographics

The 24th annual Dow Bay City River Roar tunnel boat race, round two of the 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour, concluded Sunday, June 26. And like the past 23 years – this year didn’t disappoint.  Bay City, Michigan  was one of my favorite stops when I followed the series’ with our outboard race support truck back in the 1990s. The Saginaw River, contained with sea walls, is always full of surprises. I’ve witnessed more blow overs and wicked barrel rolls at this race than I care to remember. Ask any driver who has experienced it and they will tell you Bay City is one of the most challenging tunnel boat races in the world.

Weather conditions this year were near perfect. It was sunny all weekend- with temps in the mid 60s during testing on Friday, warming up to a comfortable mid 70s on Saturday for qualify and low 80s for the final races on Sunday. The winds picked up at race time, creating a rough chop against the current.

Shaun Torrente won the Bay City River Roar Formula 1 race. He led the 11 boat field from start-to-finish.

Miami, Florida native Shaun Torrente has always been an exciting driver to watch. At 32, he is a young, skillful driver who isn’t afraid to take chances. That personality trait can make the difference between winning and second place. it can also mean the difference between winning and not finishing. Shaun has matured as a driver since I last saw him race. He is now competing on the UIM F1H2O Formula 1 circuit for Peters & May Racing, with race experiences throughout Europe as well as Qatar and Portugal. Read more

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Oddities & Rarities – Part 2: Bass Boat Power

The experimental Scorpion 377 Stroker bass boat testing at Lake X — before engine box styling.

In Part 1, Rick explored “odd power” for the good guys of our military. Here, I’ll share some odd power experiments for peace-time fish hunters.

377 Super Scorpion. A unique boat featured on the water at Mercury’s 2001 Orlando dealer meeting was a Super Scorpion 377 bass boat.  The joint project between Mercury Racing and Chub Bryant, owner of Stroker Boats, was intended to show the world an alternative to outboards for bass boats. It was a great way to showcase our compact, stroked, 377 horsepower, 6.2 liter ski engine and promote the Super Scorpion 377 small block sterndrive. The performance was very good in the Stroker bass boat. However, we just couldn’t change the minds of the “clamp-on” outboard motor fishermen. And that’s ok. Mercury has plenty of options for them (see the blog,  Application Dependant – Part 1).

The engine had a successful run, but not in bass boats. It proved to be potent power in smaller single and twin engine offshore sport boats. (I ran one for a season in a Baja H2X and had a blast!) Unfortunately, the more exotic and expensive small block never could compete with the better value of a basic big block in this price sensitive sport boat market. The 377 Super Scorpion morphed, through cost (and power) reduction, into the successful 320 hp merCruiser 377 Mag. Read more

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Oddities & Rarities – Part 1: Military

Fred Kiekhaefer and I were talking about some of the unique projects Mercury Racing has been involved with over the years.  I thought you would find our odd projects and rare products interesting as well.

The experimental Mercury turbine outboard was developed in alliance with Marine Turbine Technologies, LLC.
The Mercury turbine outboard featured a Rolls Royce Allison 250 series gas turbine engine. The engine was mounted on a Mercury 2.5 EFI Offshore mid section and either a Sport Master (shown here) or Torque Master gearcase.

Turbine. The experimental Mercury turbine outboard was built in alliance with Marine Turbine Technology (MTT) , LLC of Franklin, LA. The engine featured a Rolls Royce Allison 250 series gas turbine (helicopter) engine mounted to a 2.5 EFI Offshore mid section and a Sport Master or Torque Master gearcase.

The 320 h.p. engine was developed in the late 1990s in response to the then pending Department of Defense mandate that all gasoline be removed from ships by 2010. The turbine was light – weighing in at 200 pounds – about the weight of a 2-stroke 50 h.p. outboard. And it was multi-fuel compatible – with the ability to run on diesel, kerosene and JP4 jet fuel.  MTT founder Ted McIntyre brought a turbine outboard powered landing craft to the 2001 Mercury Dealer Conference in Orlando, Fla.  The  boat stopped traffic every time the turbine spooled up to 51,000 RPM as it hauled awe-struck media and dealers around the lake. I went for a ride.  I remember it was loud and I distinctly remember the fumes.  Read more

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The Little Engine That Does!

The Mercury 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard.

I am excited about the growing popularity of Mercury’s 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard.  The engine, which is built at Mercury’s outboard manufacturing plant in Suzhou, China, was originally designed for the Mercury FormulaFour outboard tunnel boat racing series:  That Scandinavian series, featuring one-design 14-foot tunnel race boats powered by a production Mercury 60 h.p. four stroke, was  originated by Brunswick Marine Sweden and their dealer, Mikael Frode’.

Team Vallee de Seine #77 completed 154 laps for a Class 1 podium finish at the 2011 24 Hours of Rouen race. Photo credit: Gregoire Auger.

The 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard features a production 60 h.p. four stroke powerhead mounted on a 15″ (381 mm) mid section with solid engine mounts. Power is transferred to the water via a 1.83:1 gearcase and Mercury Racing Lab Finished T.E. Cleaver prop.

The engine first earned its stripes (and hot graphics ) racing at the legendary 24 Hours of Rouen endurance powerboat race where it competes in Class 1. Historically, Yamaha wins Class 1 racing because their 2-stroke engines are closest in spec with the class maximum 850 CC displacement rule. However, the four stroke Mercury has been moving up in position since it’s 2004 Rouen debut, with a podium finish this year (see the blog Half-Rouen!). Read more

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