I began my career with Mercury Racing in 1988 as a Product Support Specialist. I traveled throughout the country supporting stock outboard and Formula 1 tunnel boat racing.
St. Louis was the Indy 500 of outboard tunnel boat racing. Racers and fans from around the world would converge on George Winter Park to watch hometown favorites, the Seebold’s, defend their turf. I was working the parts truck one year when Mike Butler (Race Sales Manager at the time) was talking with an older gentleman about tunnel boat races from days gone by and variety of other topics. Mike then introduced me to the gentleman. He was WS Holland, Johnny Cash’s drummer. I had to step back and process who I had just met. I couldn’t believe it! I’m a music lover and drummer as well. The chance of meeting someone like WS at a boat race was very cool and as I would find out later, more than a fluke encounter.
I was impressed at how humble and down to earth this man was. It’s been over 20 years since WS and I have spoken in depth. My impression hasn’t changed.
WS grew up with Carl Perkins and his brother Jay and Clayton in Bemis, TN. He would go to their concerts and, once in a while, assist the band in keeping time by slapping the side of Clayton’s stand up bass. “It was on a Saturday evening in 1955 when Carl approached me with an offer to play drums for an audition the band had at Sun Records the following Thursday. I told him I didn’t own a set of drums let alone know how to play them. I borrowed a set and we ended up getting the record contract,” WS said. “I later found out the real reason Carl asked me to go to the audition was because I owned a Cadillac and he wanted to make an impression with Sam Phillips and the people at Sun Records,” WS said with a chuckle.
Their first recording was a song called Movie Magg. They would get their big break in 1956 after recording Carl’s massive hit song, Blue Suede Shoes. WS went on to record with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. He got a call from Johnny Cash in 1960 to join him in what was to be a two week tour of the East Coast. They opened at the Atlantic City Theater and never looked back. WS earned the nickname “Fluke” for his unique entry into the music industry and legendary career behind the Man in Black.
So what does a famous drummer do to relax? Why race boats, of course. WS’s passion for boats started at an early age. He grew up on the Tennessee River in Saltillo, Tennessee. His father, a farmer, built a boat to move machinery across the river. It was powered by a Ford Model A car engine. “My friends and I would gather water from the river to keep the engine cool, said WS. “My first boat was made out of two pieces of plywood and powered by a Mercury Hurricane 10 outboard. I still own the motor – and the owners manual to go with it.” WS said.
The first thing WS would do when coming off tour was gather up the family and head for the water. “My goal was to have the fastest boat on the water,” said WS. “In 1957, I went for a ride in the fastest pleasure boat of its time; an AristoCraft powered by a 60 h.p. Mercury Mark 75 outboard. That boat topped out to whopping 41 mph!,” WS exclaimed. His need for speed was enhanced once again in ’63 when he first experienced the Merc 1000, the worlds first 100 h.p outboard. “It was the first black Mercury mounted on a Commando U2 hull. That thing was really fast -topping out at 62 mph!,” said WS.
Now he was hooked. He had to race. His first race was Portsmouth, Ohio – 1969. His ride was a Glastron Carlson tunnel with the Mercury 1250 Super B.P. race outboard. He has several race wins and championships to his name. And like most, he has also had his share of losses and crashes. He cherishes all of it. Billy Seebold, Reggie Fountain, Earl Bentz, Benny Robertson and Kenny Kitson are a few names WS referenced as lifelong friends in his boating family. WS promises there will be plenty of his boat racing featured in The Father of Drums, a video documentary on his 60 year drumming career.
WS feels blessed to have had such enjoyment and success in his passion for playing music and racing boats. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to meet The Father of Drums and share our common interests.
We spend a lot of time in validating our products. This is because we are responsible for entire propulsion systems – not just independent components. Everything (engines, transmissions, drives and propellers) must work together and be tolerant of each other. This includes oils and lubes. They are the system’s lifeblood.
We validate our engines using specific oil types and weights. Same goes for the drives and lubes. Over the years, our two-stroke outboards have evolved from electronic fuel injection to OptiMax low-emissions direct fuel injected technology. Similarly, our higher horsepower sterndrives have evolved from traditional 2-valve, push rod engines to a quad cam, four valve engine of our own design. Oil and lube requirements have evolved along with the products.
Today, we offer our own line of 2-stroke and 4-stroke oils and gear lube. Mercury Racing 2-Stroke Engine Oil is recommended for our line of OptiMax outboards including the 250 SportXS and 300XS consumer outboards and 200XS SST and 200XS ROS race outboards. It is validated for use with standard and ProXS OptiMax models as well.
Mercury Racing 4-Stroke Engine Oil is the lifebood of our sterndrive engines, from the 525 EFI to the all-new 1650 RACE. It is also recommended for use in the 350 SCi Verado outboard and is validated for use in all standard and Pro FourStroke Verados. Our 60 EFI FormulaRace outboard performs best when fed this enriched fluid as well.
Our all-new gear lube replaces a synthetic lube previously used on our high end surface drives. It is used in all gearcases built at Mercury Racing. Outboard gearcases include Fleet Master, Torque Master and Sport Master, IV SSM and VI SSM. Sterndrive gearcases include the dry-sump NXT1, NXT6 and M8 as well as Bravo One XR Sport Masters.
Mercury Racing oils and lube are available for purchase from your local Mercury Outboard or Mercury MerCruiser Sterndrive dealer. Part numbers are as follows:
- 2-Stroke Engine Oil -1 U.S. Gallon: 92-8M0078011; MSRP $51.00 ea. (sold @ 3)
- 4-Stroke Engine Oil -1 U.S. Gallon: 92-8M0078014; MSRP $41.45 ea. (sold @ 3)
- Gear Lube – 1 Quart: 92-8M0078015; MSRP $18.32 ea. (sold @ 6)
- Gear Lube – 5 U.S. Gallon: 92-8M0078016; MSRP $316.65
Protect your investment. Regular maintenance using factory approved oils and lubes will ensure hassle free time on the water and away from the service bay.
The 1650 RACE was the talk of the Miami Boat Show. Equally newsworthy was our release of 565 and 1100 sterndrives certified for use in the European Union (EU). The popular engines, packed with Mercury Racing exclusive components, meet the emissions requirements as set forth in the EU Recreational Craft Directive (RCD).
The certification expands the availability of the 565, 600 SCi, 662 SCi and 1100 sterndrive engine packages to all countries that fall under the EU’s RCD. EU certified models are identified with the CE mark. OEM boat builders must certify that their boats conform to the RCD noise requirements.
I first met go faster.de owner Andy Groeber back in 2004 when we first came out with the 1075 SCi. I would catch up with him over the following years on his annual trek to the Miami Boat Show. Andy is an exclusive Nor-Tech dealer just South of Munich. He has had a lot of success with the 662 SCis. He is excited to have the EU certified 565 and 1100. Andy sees the 565s being popular for the Nor-Tech Monte Carlo and 39-foot sportboats.
“No hassle boating is a key message for both the 565s and 1100s. The 1100s are wonderfully efficient. They have a very good reputation in the field with fewer breakdowns and less maintenance required than anything else in the past,” said Andy. They will open doors to sell high-end cats and vee-bottoms to customers who may not have bought them in the past due to maintenance needs, Andy said. “Customers in this power range would have previously had triple diesels with sub par performance. The big power and torque capabilities of the 1100 will be a natural for big family cruisers as well,” Andy concluded.
Pal Sollie, owner of Goldfish boats, has a new 42-foot rib for military and commercial/government applications. A recreational model of that rib fitted with 565s would be fantastic!,” Pal exclaimed. He also looks forward to running the 1100. “The 1100 will be a good fit for our new 50-footer introduced a month ago,” said Pal. “Both engines are new and fresh. They are something we’ve needed to attract younger customers into the market,” said Pal.
Norwegian builder Hydrolift makes 22-33 foot powerboats for the Scandinavian market. They Export to EU countries, Russia and the Far East. Hydrolift sales rep Reider Golstad said, “The 1100 is too powerful for our hulls – although it would make a perfect single engine application.” Digital Throttle & Shift technology is a big deal for our market. Custom colors are too. The 565 will be a good engine for us,” Reider said.
Dries Kuysten is equally excited about the 565. Dries owns Kuysten Watersport, a Formula and Rinker dealer in the Netherlands. “This is a great opportunity to take the next step after the 8.2L. If I had to power my own boat now, this would be the engine of my choice!,” exclaimed Dries.
Everyone I spoke to said the European Union is starting to recover from the recession we all have experienced over the past few years. They are looking forward to the future now that they have a broader range of clean, hassle free Mercury Racing power at their disposal.
It’s been a year since we introduced the Bravo I FS outboard propeller. It was originally developed for single engine four stroke outboard applications. We’ll, it didn’t take long for the word to spread regarding the prop’s performance. Folks running multiple four stroke outboard rigs started asking for right and left-hand rotation sets of the popular prop.
Being the conservative person I am, I opted to first work with a handful of people running various hull types to prove the concept before releasing the counter rotation Bravo I FS models. It took longer than I thought to get feedback from the field.
I grew frustrated because I wasn’t getting any details regarding performance results. All I would get was, “They’re great! Thanks. ” or more often than not – no news at all. It was like pulling teeth. I found out over time the props worked so well that they wanted to keep their performance secret to themselves. Eventually, I got the detailed information I was looking for and I am happy to share it with you here.
Captain Sam Maisano and son Captain Joe own Go Fast Fishing Charters in Treasure Island, Florida. They repowered their 32-foot Donzi ZF center console last year twin Mercury Verado 300′s equipped with the HD 1.75 gearcase. They tested six different props, none of which met their performance goals. Their timing of contacting me was perfect as I was just beginning to research the feasibility of producing left-hand rotation Bravo I FS props for applications like theirs. In late February, 2012, they tested a set of 23″ pitch Bravo I FSs. The results were outstanding! Capt. Sam said, “Since then we have run over 150 fishing trips and logged over 400 hours of excellent performance.”
Capt. Sam provided the following list of benefits he has realized after running Bravo I FS props.:
- Excellent fuel economy at low, mid and high speed
- Engine achieves 6100-6400 RPM, as recommended by Mercury
- Stern lift and bow lift, boat rides on steps as designed
- Excellent throttle response at all speeds and conditions
- The boat jumps up on plane and does not cavitate
- Best top end speed compared to all other props tested
“We are extremely satisfied with the Mercury Verado 300′s and the Bravo I FS props. Together they are built for maximum speed, performance and efficiency and since the name of our business is Go Fast Fishing Charters these things are very important. We would certainly recommended these Mercury products to anyone,” concluded Capt. Sam.
Good stuff. I hope those with similar applications find this information helpful.
I just got back from the Miami Boat Show where, in addition to our unveiling of the awesome 1650 RACE sterndrive, I debuted the all-new Pro Max outboard propeller. Some of you may be familiar with the high performance 150/200/225 h.p. Pro Max outboards we produced back in the mid 1990s. I thought the Pro Max name was perfect for our new prop and it’s intended applications.
We needed a prop to help lighter weight hulls get up on plane faster and improve top end speeds. The Bravo I XS is the solution for 2-strokes carrying heavier loads. The Bravo I FS is the prop for four strokes with heavy assignments (single and multiple engine rigs) as well. The new Pro Max fills the gap for OptiMax ProXS and 300XS and Verado Pro FourStroke outboard applications on hulls with natural bow lift.
Outboard drag racing veteran Glenn Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Racing and Marine, helped validate the prop fur us. Glenn ran it on an Allison XS-2003 GrandSport with the new Mercury 150 Four Stroke. He also provided an OptiMax 250 ProXS powered Bullet 21XD bass boat. Glenn and his team are ecstatic with the Pro Max. “We experienced jacket rabbit acceleration. Both boats were on plane in 1-1/2 seconds!,” exclaimed Glenn. The Allison didn’t realize any change in top-end speed due to the engine height restriction with water pickup location on the stock 150 gearcase.
“The Bullet, benefiting with a high performance Torque Master gearcase, improved on both hole shot and top-end speeds,” said Glenn. “We did back-to-back tests comparing the Pro Max with like size Pro E.T.s as well as a variety of other props. The Pro Max outperformed everything on the ramp. We love it!,” Glenn concluded.
Eric Simmons, owner of Simmons Custom Boats, was my go fast flats test guy. He too tested with an OptiMax 250 ProXS. “We’ve dialed in our boats with the Pro E.T. It’s a very durable prop. If we could get acceleration similar to what we experience with the Bravos, while maintaining the E.T. blade durability and overall performance, I would say you have a winner,” said Eric in our initial phone conversation regarding the project. “Water levels are an issue where we are. Hitting bottom is inevitable and thus blade durability is a big deal,” Eric said.
Upon completion of his tests Eric called to say we have a winner. “The Pro Max’s appeal is it’s speed and efficiency coupled with the improved hole shot realized with the through hub exhaust, said Eric. “Our testing produced considerably lower slip numbers, proving you nailed your proof of concept in every aspect. We can’t wait to get some of these for our customers,” said Eric.
Glenn and Eric have been an immense help in making the Pro Max a reality. Production starts in April. Meanwhile, I’m off to Tulsa, Oklahoma later this week for the BASS Master Classic. I will display the Pro Max there in the Mercury Marine booth. For those of you going to the show – stop by. I would love to see you and chat about props. I’m excited about the new Pro Max and our expanded mix of low emissions outboard props. Now if it would just quit snowing! Spring and Summer can’t come soon enough :)
It’s hard to believe a year has passed and the 2013 Miami Boat Show is underway. We’ve experienced some major events since our last visit to South Beach. Fred Kiekhaefer has moved on after 22 years of service. With Fred’s departure, Erik Christiansen has been named General Manager. Fred will continue to represent Mercury Racing over the next two years. In fact, he’s at the show. If your there, be sure to stop by the Mercury booth and say hello. Erik and our staff of sales, service and engineering personnel are there to support the brand as well.
I decided to forgo the show this year to be with my son. I’ll miss seeing everyone and the exciting new products being unveiled. Jay Nichols has ensured me he will keep me abreast of the action via his acclaimed photography.
Some of you may be aware of the rumor mill started a while back when Powerboat Nation posted a story speculating we were going to release a 1700 h.p. engine. The story featured a dated 1350 model shot. Erik squashed all rumors when he unveiled the all-new 1650 RACE sterndrive. Based on our exclusive quad cam, four valve 1350, this monster features new pistons, larger turbos and requires 112 AKI race fuel.
So there, PB Nation. You were correct in that – yes – we did release a higher power engine based on our exclusive quad cam, four valve engine platform. You were off on the power and color, however. And no, this is not your father’s poker run engine. It is a race engine that is sold, without warranty, to qualified powerboat racing professionals. I’ll make sure you get a press kit:)
Pump Gas Deception Ploy
Today’s release, to some, is no surprise. It certainly isn’t a surprise to Bob Bull. Bob helped validate the engine. In fact, he won the 2011 Superboat Unlimited Offshore World Championship with a set. He and MTI put up some impressive numbers with it at the 2011 LOTO shootout as well! All of these accomplishments were done without any indication regarding the true nature of the beasts beneath the hatches.
Word on the street (and water) via creative marketing was, “1350s won this and that….on pump gas!” Of course there were hard core enthusiasts who were on to us. One whiff of the fumes as the boat left the dock pretty much gave it away. You sure those are stock 1350s? What’s that smell? Smell? What smell? It’s pump gas, baby! Yep. It was….from a pump at the airport! But hey, that’s marketing and true to our heritage. Loose lips sink ships – and product development too. So now here it is for all to see, touch, and smell. We’ll, you may have to wait a bit to smell as the exhaust is sealed on the display motor:(
Green with Envy
In conjunction with the unveiling, we’re proud to announce Six time World Champion Miss Geico Racing – Team USA will be the the first team to run the 1650 RACE engines for the 2013 race season. Mercury Racing and Miss Geico Racing have come to a co-branding agreement which is founded on the team’s purchase of Mercury Racng 1650 engines and Mercury Racing CNC Cleaver Propellers. Miss Geico pilots Marc Granet and Scott Begovich are pumped. “We experienced what the engines are capable of first hand after witnessing Bob Bull’s explosive speed in his 2011 World Championship run,” said Marc. “Not since Dave Scott’s Mercury powered Budweiser team has a piston boat challenged Miss Geico’s massive speed,” Marc said. We suspect Miss Geico and others racing that week were green with envy regarding the capabilities of this package.
An unfortunate fire and total loss of the turbine Miss Geico last year forced the team to scramble for a back-up boat to finish the season. They chose Mercury 1075 SCis for power. They knew they wouldn’t be competitive but they were confident they would finish each race and finish the season with dignity. After numerous phone conversations between myself and Marc Granet, the team decided to stick with piston power and asked if we could help.
Being a marketing guy – I’m all about brand exposure. I highly respect Geico’s creative marketing. Miss Geico has a following that is analogous to what the Miss Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane had in it’s day. The Geico message is about safety and protection – very positive and very family orientated.
In our discussions, Marc and I have come to the conclusion our interests, goals and objectives are very similar. Geico and Mercury Racing working together on and off the race course is beneficial for the sport, for the industry and for all of the people both companies touch throughout the world.
Congratulations Erik and my associates in another successful Miami product launch. Congratulations Team Geico on your new power! We suspect it will be your competitors who are now Green with Envy.