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