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!).

Team Qatar is one of eight boats that compete in the F1H2O F4 series.

Global demand for the 60 EFI FormulaRace continues to grow as event promoters realize the need for creating affordable classes featuring clean, environmentally responsible engines.  The F1H2O U.I.M. World Championship series now requires each F1 race team to also field a Mercury 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard powered tunnel race boat for F4 competition.

In his reply to my e-mail regarding the Mercury four stroke, F1H20 series promoter Nicolo di San Germano said, “We have been extremely happy all of last year to have the 60 EFI Mercury powering our F4 series. We’ve found the engine to be extremely reliable.”

Kanghua Boats now owns the molds and rights to this competitive F4 hull!

The Chinese government is launching their own FormulaFour racing series this month. In fact, China is so serious about racing that Kanghua Boats Co., Ltd. of Hangzhou, China purchased the molds and rights to Christian Molgaard’s F4 tunnel race boats.  The Molgaard hull has had great success.

Unfortunately, North American tunnel boat racing is stagnant – with few, new entries into the sport. Entry level classes currently feature antiquated 2-stroke Johnson and Evinrude 45 and 60 class race engines which have been out of production for years. Modern, turn-key, entry-level equipment is nonexistent.

ChampBoat Series promoter Mike Schriefer and I have had several discussions over the years regarding the need for a viable entry level outboard tunnel boat racing class in the U.S. We both feel the 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard and the one-design FormulaFour class concept is what North American outboard tunnel boat racing desperately needs.

The American Power Boat Association (APBA) is answering the call and taking action. The sanctioning body over powerboat racing throughout North America also realizes the sport is in dire need of an affordable vehicle to draw new interest.  Like China – they are serious in accomplishing their mission: APBA has purchased eight 60 EFI FormulaRace engines. They’ve completed development and testing of the Gary Pugh designed plug for a one-design tunnel boat. They are currently in search of a boat manufacturer.

My hope is the U.S. can learn from our International friends and mirror what they are doing to promote affordable, competitive boat racing. In my opinion, our youth need outlets where they can get out and enjoy some friendly competition on the water – in the real world (not on the couch playing video games).

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15 thoughts on “The Little Engine That Does!”

  1. Great beginner class.

    Was hoping Mercury would come to the table with an engine to help boost the US APBA class of SST-60.

    This 60 hp Chinese built motor isn’t it, unfortunately. We will struggle on with an older motor that performs as intended.

    Sorry guys. Back to the drawing board….

    1. 60 FormulaRace is a great beginner class. Sorry, Mr. Calley, we cannot support both. Racing engines cost us money to develop. Volumes are so small, there is no return on that financial investment. That leaves the public relations value. Since the general boating public has no interest in conventional 2-strokes because of their exhaust emissions, we chose to support entry level racing with our 4-stroke. They’re cleaner and we currently manufacture them.

      We all make the choices we must. Hopefully, APBA will enjoy success with their pilot program and APBA racers will join the rest of the world in supporting low emissions racing. Only then can we get behind a 60 hp class — one that looks to the future and reinforces our commitment to the environment.

      1. Thank You Fred,

        Thank you for supporting racing. Hopefully, this class can get going here in the US.

        This Boat and Motor combination can be shown at Boat Shows and Dealers across the US.

        Thank You Again,

        Dean Hobart (I have been racing Mercury outboard engines in APBA since 1962.)

      2. Is there a way to improvre horsepower with some cam, head, and port modifications that would be more closely to the 60sst engine HP, I know we modify Kart engines with these modifications with great increase in HP. The lower unit etc will work fine on the SST60 tunnel hull.

        Thanks

        Steve

        1. There are almost always modifications which will increase horsepower. Unfortunately, these almost always increase cost and decrease reliability, too. For an entry level spec class, that’s not a good path. I would encourage focusing instead on improving set up and driving skills. After all, that’s the point: developing new boat racers.

  2. Fred

    My comment was not to modify the engine for the entry class, but to modify the engine as a replacement to the old OMC 60sst engine. Fred isn’t possible that Mercury could provide an after market kit that the racers or their engine builders could install. The reliability can’t be much lower and racers know there is less reliability with modifications. The 60sst class is popular and would expand greatly if an replacement engine was available.

    What you guys have done for the replacement 120sst motor with the 200sst is great.

    Thanks for your previous comment Fred

    1. Thanks, Steve. I did misunderstand your comment. You and John Calley appear to be on the same wave length. See my response to John, above.
      60SST kit…Hum, let me give that some thought and kick it around with our engineers. Stay tuned.

        1. I didn’t forget your question and I have an answer. Not good: We cannot make our 60 4-stroke into a competitive engine for the 60SST class. Most of the increasingly rare OMC loop-charged 2-strokes are making 100-105 hp in race tune. While we could probably reach that power level, we could not do it with the weight, reliability and cost needed to be competitive. Plus, the market is too small to justify the investment required. Sorry. Non starter. Hey, I tried.

          1. Thanks appreciate the effort,

            Guess all of us 60sst drivers will have to continue as is with the old equipment

  3. Well, it’s a dog of a motor. I tried to help prop one last summer, impossible because of the 6200 RPM rev limiter. I would argue very strongly against the entry of this class into the U.S. It’s a replacement neither for SST60 nor SST45, too slow for either, and we already have Sport C near the F4S 65 mph speed range. At the very least, the Evinrude 2 stroke (which is cleaner) should be running in F4S.

  4. I see that this motor is being used in Europe but are they available in the US market for purchase? I have not seen much more about it since the APBA effort has not taken hold.

  5. This may sound close minded and antiquated but I think what’s killing this is “made in china”. American gearheads whether racing cars or boats, don’t particularly care to see “made in china” on traditionally American brands.

    I don’t race boats but my family was in the boat biz for about a decade in Key Largo. When we closed our shop one of the engines we had left was a Merc 60hp. When customers saw the “made in china” decal they would always turn their nose up to it despite we were selling it at a loss and the thing had about 100hrs use.

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