OptiMax Powers Fairchild to SST 120 UIM/APBA World Championship

Photos:Paul Kemiel Photographics

2011 UIM/APBA SST 120 World Champ Chris Fairchild in low level flight over the Detroit River.

I first learned Chris Fairchild won the 2011 SST 120 UIM/APBA World Championship Sunday, July 24, in a voice mail  from my photographer buddy, Paul Kemiel. The championship consists of four heats of racing at the PNC Trenton Roar on the River outboard tunnel boat race, an annual event that takes place on the Detroit River in Trenton, Michigan. Chris won the event with an OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard, defeating  a field of 15 boats, including defending SST 120 World Champion and fellow OptiMax competitor Jimmie Merleau.

Chris called me Monday. With a summer cold, he didn’t sound like a recently crowned champion. It was a while into our conversation before the topic of his accomplishment even came up – after a prompt from me. 

“How was Trenton?”

“Ok. We had nine SST 120s and  six Optis.”

Chris takes a victory lap in his OptiMax 200XS SST powered DAC hull.
Terry Rinker in his Mercury SST 120 race outboard powered AMSOIL hull.

Chris is so humble – It was like  pulling teeth getting him to acknowledge the championship. He was more excited about the fact that five of the top six boats were powered by OptiMax.  He was equally excited about driver Jim McGrath. It seems two powerhead failures and a weekend of frustration convinced the fierce competitor to switch from the antiquated SST 120 to the modern, low-emissions OptiMax (for those interested – at the date of this post – we have four complete OptiMax 200XS SST race outboards in stock).

2011 UIM/ABPA SST 120 World Champs (L-R: 3rd. Jakob, 1st. Fairchild, 2nd. Rinker)

Terry Rinker and Chris had mirror image performances in the four heats of racing. Terry runs a purpose-built Mercury SST 120 race outboard. Chris won the first and third heats.  Terry won heats two and four. This proves the performance of the two engines is similar; it is a combination of driver skill, engine set-up and a little luck that adds up to true championship performance.

Chris came out on top with the greatest  number of points to earn the championship. Terry placed second overall. OptiMax competitors Mark Jacob, Donny Lick, Jimmie Merleau, and Dan Orchard swept 2-6, respectively.  Jeff Reno, with Mercury SST120 power, placed seventh.  Rookie driver Merv Bjork rounded out the OptiMax contenders, finishing eighth overall.

Visit the 2011 Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour website for complete results.

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15 thoughts on “OptiMax Powers Fairchild to SST 120 UIM/APBA World Championship”

  1. Rick,

    I absolutely love the article. Thank you for promoting OPC racing, however, the article is incorrect! It stated …five of the top six boats were powered by OptiMax”. The fact is Chris won in an Opti, 2,. Terry Rinker (SST 120), 3. Mark Jakob (SST 120), 4. D. Lick (Opti), 5. Merleau (Opti)

    There was only 1 Opti on the podium followed by two SST 120 which is depicted in your attached photo.


    1. I don’t have any data readily available compaing the fuel consumption of the SST 120 vs the OptiMax 200XS SST. I can tell you the superior fuel economy of the OptiMax 200XS SST was a key factor behind the engine winning the 2000 24 Hours of Rouen endurance race and it’s continual domination of Rouen Class 2 (SST 120) competition. The superior fuel economy enables the OptiMax boats to stay on the racecourse longer between fuel stops, resulting with more laps and checkered flags. It’s recent success in sprint racing can be atttributed to fuel economy as well. Racers don’t need to carry as much fuel and thus weight as their SST 120 competitors.

      1. I’ve asked Engineering to look for comparative dyno fuel consumption figures. Unless the data is archived deep in the bowels of our mothership, I should get an answer.

      2. From our lead race 2-stroke development engineer: “That’s a difficult question to answer because the [SST]120 guys jet the carbs way richer than we ever did running on the dyno, so I really don’t have any real world data… based on bsfc’s [brake specific fuel consumption] the 120 probably uses 30% more fuel [than the 200XS SST].”

    2. We got some feedback from one of our customers who has run both engines.
      He states that on a 31 second coarse, running 30 laps:
      2.0L SST-120 consumes 9 gallons
      2.5L 200 XS consumes 6 gallons

    1. Some folks use fuel to cool things down. That’s the only reason I can imagine for a race engine. Sometimes (more than I would like to imagine) people just get it wrong.

        1. Hi Brent,

          One of the reasons SST 120 teams (ourselves included) put larger jets in the engine is that we run significantly more timing in the engines to gain acceleration. We monitor our fuel consumption with exhaust gas temperature probes, spark plug reading, and reading the piston top after each run. Most teams have the engine calibration of an SST 120 down to a science. We have a weather station that provides a “corrected altitude” reading where based on past experiences we know what jets to run. I hope this post provides a little bit more insight on how some SST 120 teams try to gain an edge on others by increasing main jet fuel size.

          I have had an opportunity to discuss with OptiMax SST 200 drivers and it appears the fuel consumption is relatively close. The OptiMax however, produces much better all around horsepower and on average quicker lap times.

          Take care,
          Brian Tabara
          #5 SST 120

  2. I am running in the COR class which is essentially a SST-120 engine on a stockmid and LP. I am currently running 94 jets on the newest sst-120 recommended carburetor. The literature that arrived with the carburetors stated that with a new engine during break-in use the .094 jets that were installed. After the break-in period change top jets to .090, number 2 carb. to .092 jets and leave the .094 jets in the lower carbs. After a complete break-in of the 2.0 engine change the jets to .088. My engine is way beyond the break-in period so I dropped my jets to .092 and made a 5 minute warm-up and high speed run, shutting down and coasting to the trailer. Upon inspection, my piston tops seemed ok but my plugs had the beginning of a hot look. The Merc engineers may be right, but I wasn’t willing to burn my engine down based on their literature. If they included a factory guarantee, I might try it. I have a 28 gallon tank used in the Parker 300 race and I empty it in 1hr 20 minutes. Seems like a lot of burn, even with a cross-drilled manifold.

    1. The data sheet that came with the carbs is general reference guide. The spark plugs and cylinders are your best indicators regarding jetting. Boat set-up, fuels and weather all affect engine performance and you will need to adjust your carb jetting accordingly. If you plugs are looking hot – then go up a size in jet to richen it up. Good luck with your COR racing. It sounds like an exciting class. I always enjoyed Mod-VP racing.

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