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  • Mercury Challenge series

    As I was reading thru the very interesting 10xs thread, it was mentioned that the Mercury Challenge series had it's last event nearly 25 years ago...wow..how time flies! If memory serves me correct, my first challenge race was in January 1987 in d stock hydro at Puddingstone lake outside of Los Angeles. What othe memories do people have of the different events? How did it get started?

  • #2
    How much money did Mercury provide in support of the series?
    Untethered from reality!

    Comment


    • GrandpaRacer
      GrandpaRacer commented
      Editing a comment
      Just guessing in today's dollars, the prize money and rings and jackets was minimal. Probably only $5k a year. The promotional cost with the big trailer and banners and advertising was probably much higher! I would not be surprised if it was in the $200k range, considering the salaries and travel expenses associated.

  • #3
    It was a 4 race series for DSHand 25ssH on the East Coast and on the West Coast. The winner probably got some money ( I don't remember the amount) and this nice personalized Mercury Racing ring.
    John Adams



    Comment


    • Fast Freddie
      Fast Freddie commented
      Editing a comment
      Prize money paid down to 5th I think at each race of the four (4 West and 4 East). Classes were DSH, 25SSH and 25SSR. The runabouts ran Mercury props out of a set that Merc provided for each the East and West coast series. Random draw for props. All starts were LeMans style dead engine.
      Last edited by Fast Freddie; 10-16-2016, 12:30 AM. Reason: More Info.

    • GrandpaRacer
      GrandpaRacer commented
      Editing a comment
      Right, I forgot the 25R!

  • #4
    The Merc 25XS and 44XS motors were introduced in 1986. Since they were only slightly faster than the older motors, some promotion would be useful to get drivers to quickly switch to the new motors. I was the Stock Outboard VP at the time. John Puestow and I outlined most of the concept together and he met with Mike Butler at Mercury HP to sell the idea of a series of races at good race sites with Mercury providing prize money, great trophies or plaques and a support truck- often the Mercury Racing semi truck/trailer with Bill Heberer, much like they did for the big tunnel boat series. Points were kept and the winner was crowned a UIM World Champion. The older motors were allowed but the MK 55 motors had to use a new cowl which had contemporary graphics. DSR was included in the initial concept but dropped when there was no interest from class participants for purchasing the new motors or traveling to the races. The initial idea was just for one series and I am unaware of the details of how the East-West split came about.

    The first year or two had the races conventionally run, ie clock starts but the last year or two were LeMans-type starts where possible. It was interesting to throw a new challenge of planning off and acceleration but that fit the challenge theme well.

    Comment


    • GrandpaRacer
      GrandpaRacer commented
      Editing a comment
      The Lemans starts allows more heats to be run because you save the 3 minute warm up time. It also makes the first turn safer I believe.

    • Matt Dagostino
      Matt Dagostino commented
      Editing a comment
      Sam............the 25xs was introduced in 1988. I won the 1987 Nationals with my 25ss motor. In the fall of 1987 i believe Mercury offered a generous program where they exchanged the new block for the old block at no cost to the drivers. George Price and i guessed the new XS engine would be much faster than the old ss block and it was. We built larger hydros and where my 25ss would run 67-68mph the new xs block ran over 72mph on the larger boat!! I believe that eventually killed 25ssh Nation Wide. But i could have my dates a little off....)
      Last edited by Matt Dagostino; 10-16-2016, 11:32 AM.

  • #5
    I seem to remember that the local clubs bid on the event....Seattle Outboard hosted several events, as well as some inboard clubs. We had an event an inboard club hosted at Moses Lake, and if memory serves me correct we had 22 or 23 d stock hydros entered....and for the Challenge race on Saturday we did a Le Mans start....Nate Brown was standing out on this point of land with a flag....lemme tell you, leaving the beach with 11 other d stocks all at the same time, aiming for one bouy, was one of the scariest and funniest moments of my racing career!

    Comment


    • #6
      I think it was the next weekend, we raced with the inboards again at Lake Spanaway...same thing, lemans start. While sitting in boats, it started raining so hard you could not see 100 feet in front of you. I made it off the beach in second place, and could see nothing...I made it around the course following the fin spray of the first place boat. Here are the west coast Challenge races the come to mind: Puddingstone in Los Angeles, Capitol Lake in Olympia Washington, Cullaby Lake Seaside Oregon, Moses Lake, and Lake Spanaway outside of Tacoma. Am I missing any west coast sites? What were the mid west and east coast race sites?

      Comment


      • #7
        Originally posted by GrandpaRacer View Post
        It was a 4 race series for DSHand 25ssH on the East Coast and on the West Coast. The winner probably got some money ( I don't remember the amount) and this nice personalized Mercury Racing ring.
        John Adams
        I didn't get a ring for winning the 1986 West Coast 25XS Hydro series.... Got some other stuff.... But the ring would have been way cooler.

        The Series race at Olympia, Wa., Capital Lake in 1986 was a Lemans start. I tested all my propellers to find the one that got on plane the fastest. I was on plane and gone.

        The last race was Lawrence Lake, ... I won that one also, and set the 1 - 2/3 mile record...... Which still is in the books, never broken.
        sigpic

        Dean F. Hobart

        Comment


        • Matt Dagostino
          Matt Dagostino commented
          Editing a comment
          Dean.........the ring is VERY COOL. A Balfour ring with diamond insets. In lieu of giving me a new ring every time i won the series Mercury took the ring back and inserted more diamonds. I have the ring locked away and haven't looked at it in years. They also inscribed the inside of the gold band for each championship. Mercury ran the series as a 'dictatorship'. That's why it was successful. Their was only one leader and the rest of us fell in line or moved on.

        • GrandpaRacer
          GrandpaRacer commented
          Editing a comment
          Dean, you were crazy fast on the 1 2/3 mile, I watched from way back!

      • #8
        Originally posted by Team B&H View Post
        The Merc 25XS and 44XS motors were introduced in 1986. Since they were only slightly faster than the older motors, some promotion would be useful to get drivers to quickly switch to the new motors. I was the Stock Outboard VP at the time. John Puestow and I outlined most of the concept together and he met with Mike Butler at Mercury HP to sell the idea of a series of races at good race sites with Mercury providing prize money, great trophies or plaques and a support truck- often the Mercury Racing semi truck/trailer with Bill Heberer, much like they did for the big tunnel boat series. Points were kept and the winner was crowned a UIM World Champion. The older motors were allowed but the MK 55 motors had to use a new cowl which had contemporary graphics. DSR was included in the initial concept but dropped when there was no interest from class participants for purchasing the new motors or traveling to the races. The initial idea was just for one series and I am unaware of the details of how the East-West split came about.

        The first year or two had the races conventionally run, ie clock starts but the last year or two were LeMans-type starts where possible. It was interesting to throw a new challenge of planning off and acceleration but that fit the challenge theme well.

        Actually, the 25 was available in 1986, but the new 44XS was still a prototype, and was introduced for the 1987 series... That's why we had the new graphics on a flat wrap-around for the 55's in 1986. Mercury wanted the D's to look like Mercury's so the prize money was contingent on the 'new' wrap and graphics on a motor painted black. Per the rules of DSH, you could have any color, but if you wanted the prize money, you painted it black. We all did.

        And, Matt kicked our butts. Good job, Matt.

        I still have my 1986 Mark 55 Challenge motor. NFS.



        Comment


        • Matt Dagostino
          Matt Dagostino commented
          Editing a comment
          Mercury did a great job of keeping everything fair and equal for everyone. It was really a nice boost for the Stock Outboard division for several years when times were good......that first 1986 Merc Challenge event in Ocoee drew over 33 DSH's entries i believe. So cool to see all the engines (Mark 55's) with the new Merc decals and everyone in uniform.

      • #9
        I remember running the Challenge series at Silver Lake, New York. Had the new wrap around on the motor and I think I remember you had to have some kind of Merc decal on the boat.

        Comment


        • #10
          The required wrap and decal for the 1986 Merc Challenge series

          Comment


          • #11
            To John Adams Et All,

            Yes, very fast, and Crazy if you didn't know how to handle a boat with a very high jacked up prop shaft...... 1 - 1/8" prop shaft center line above the bottom. It did not go straight.

            On the 25XS post of several days ago, I explained the set - up in more detail.
            sigpic

            Dean F. Hobart

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            • #12
              This is all so cool....keep the information coming.....

              Comment


              • #13
                If anyone misses the days of mercury motors, LeMans starts, and prize money there is a place where that still exists! The Cal-Ore River Racers had seven races and paid out over $15,000 in prize money for the 2016 season. The races regularly saw 15+ drivers for the starting gun.
                We want YOU to come race with us and experience the fun of river racing! If anyone would like to race with us I'm more than willing to help out.

                Matt
                math.richardson@gmail.com
                http://caloreriverracers.com/

                PS, no need to repaint your cowling because we don't have any!
                Last edited by mathrich; 10-17-2016, 11:12 AM.

                Comment


                • #14
                  The Cal-Ore River Racers are certifiably nuts. Nothing like hearing 15+ megaphoned 4 cyl Mercs going by.



                  Comment


                  • #15
                    And don't forget, ESPN inserted a little 5 minute recap of the Merc Challenge races into the Unlimited broadcasts back in the day... we were on TV!

                    Go check some vintage broadcasts...



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