Boats, Bands & Fans: Racing’s Unprecedented 450R Product Launch

This gorgeous photo captures the vibe of our unprecedented launch of the 450R in Music City – Nashville, Tennessee.

Whew. That was a rush.

Our June 18th launch of the all-new Mercury Racing 450R FourStroke outboard in Nashville, Tennessee, was unprecedented on so many levels. In my 30 years of service at Racing, this three-day event was off the charts in terms of scale, quality and  exposure.

Media Buzz

Mercury Racing General Manager Stuart Halley addresses the media with details regarding the all-hew 450R outboard.

Activities began June 17th with a reception and dinner for select global marine-industry media at Blake Shelton’s Ole Red restaurant bar. Racing General  Manager Stuart Halley and Mercury Marine President Chris Drees addressed the group upon the unveiling.  Needless to say, gasps from the  crowd were audible upon the drop of the drapes. The crowd was then subdued  – listening intently as Stuart presented details of the new product – the result of three years of development by the Mercury Racing engineering team.  Stuart concluded his presentation with a video that highlighted some of the boats the media would experience the following morning.

Media Demos 

450R engine graphics were kept “under wrap” during the media demos on Tuesday. they remained covered until the 8 pm unveiling that evening.

We dodged inclement weather for the most part to get all the demos in. To say the least, all 450R-powered boats – from the sporty cats to the six-engine Cigarette Tirranna – made huge impressions.

Following the mid-afternoon departure Tuesday of our media guests, we switched gears to prepare for the arrival of our boat-builder partners and their guests. Product displays at Ole Red were moved to the main level where Stuart would share the stage with The Royal Hounds – Racing’s outstanding house band for this iconic global launch.

All The World’s A Stage

Kendra Sommer prepares for her live stream coverage of the 450R unveiling on the Mercury Racing Facebook page.

Kendra Sommer, star of Cruisin’ With Kendra,  transmitted all of the excitement of the launch via a live stream on the Mercury Racing Facebook Page.  The crowd went wild upon the unveiling and, like the night before , listened intently as Stuart listed and explained the product details. The  energy in the room was palpable. I don’t think there was a single individual who didn’t get his or her picture taken with one of the the three 450R product displays.  We couldn’t wait for our builders and their guests to experience the product.

The city of Nashville skyline was the backdrop of where the boats were docked prior to the start of the poker run.

Mercury product integration personnel drove the  boats up the Cumberland River for an on-water display in downtown Nashville Tuesday evening.

Steve Miller addresses poker run participants at the mandatory safety meeting.

Wednesday morning,  guests were shuttled from the hotel to the river for breakfast, where Steve Miller, director of Racing’s  marketing, sales & service, presented a mandatory safety meeting  prior to their departure.

Waiting for the water to rise in the Old Hickory Lock.

The first 15-mile leg  included “locking through” to Old Hickory Lake where we stopped for lunch at Blue Turtle Marina.  A mini poker poker run took place afterward, during which participants on all nine boats made stops to capture collectible Mercury Racing poker chips.

And the Winner is…

Operation Stand-Down Tennessee representative Karen Fitzhugh, Steve Miller and Formula Boats president Scott Porter proudly display the $5,000 check to the veteran’s services organization. Formula Propulsion Specialist Brian Smith displays Mark Tysinger’s commemorative 450R launch event poster.

Formula Boats guest Mark Tysinger collected the winning hand for the poker run. Mark redirected his $5,000 winnings to Operation Stand-Down Tennessee, a nonprofit veteran’s  services organization. Mark also received a framed Nashville 2019 450R commemorative poster.

We want to thank Tennessee Powerboat Club representatives Justin Lucas  and Chad Collier for all of their help in organizing our poker run. They were an immense support, volunteering their time in ensuring it was the great success that it was. We want to also thank TPC members who provided their boats and time for our designated poker chip stops.

We enjoyed our time in Nashville. It was great to see our media friends, boat-builder partners and their guests enjoy themselves as they experienced the all-new 450R in music city.  I have many memorable moments in my career – this one  tops the list.









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