Building a Batch of Champions

Mike Hammer (background) rolls a batch of OptiMax 200XS powerheads to the dyno. Powerheads are broke-in and race ready when they leave our facility.
Gary Aman mounts a Sport Master gearcase to a 200XS ROS mid section.

Outboards. Outboards. Outboards everywhere! Mercury Racing’s factory floor is a buzz of activity. We’re busy with a large build of low-emissions 2-stroke OptiMax 200XS SST (Super Stock Tunnel) and ROS (Race Offshore) outboards. A majority of the direct-fuel injected engines are headed to Europe for race venues in Sweden, Italy and France.

Complete engines and conversion kits are being built. The conversion kits, which include a powerhead, tuner, cowlings and gearcase, are a one-time offer for the 2011 season. The SST and ROS kits are available to racers who want to upgrade from older, naturally aspirated, 2.0 liter SST 120 and XR2 Race Offshore engines.

OptiMax 200XS ROS race outboard.
OptiMax 200XS SST race outboard.

Both SST and ROS end models feature a 2.5 Liter V-6 OptiMax powerhead which combines components from the OptiMax 2.5XS and the  Mercury Racing engineered 175 Pro XS outboard.

The 200XS SST features a 12-inch race mid section and a unique IV SSM gearcase which switches the right-hand engine rotation to a left-hand propeller shaft rotation. This is required for the hard, left-hand turns of tunnel boat race courses.

The 200XS ROS features a 15-inch mid section and a 1.75:1 Sport Master gearcase. Models are available in both right-hand and left-hand rotation for multiple engine applications.

Mercury OptiMax 200XS outboards placed 1-2 at the 2000 24 Hours of Rouen race.
This OptiMax 200XS SST powered boat won Class 2 competition at the 2002 24 Hours of Rouen race.

The first batch of OptiMax 200XS SST race outboards to leave Fond du Lac are heading to Rouen, France. There they will power Class 2 competitors in the 48th annual 24 Hours of Rouen endurance powerboat race, April 30-May 1. Mercury has powered more podium finishers in Rouen than any other outboard manufacturer. The 200XS SST won the 2000 24 Hour race, beating larger, higher power Evinrude and Johnson engines and has won the Class 2 competition many times.  Much of the engine’s success in Rouen can be attributed to the fuel efficiency of the direct-fuel injection OptiMax technology. Race teams take full advantage of the engines superior fuel economy over competitive carbureted and electronic fuel injected engines. OptiMax powered boats can run more laps using less fuel – thus reducing the number of fuel stops. Performance, durability, fuel efficiency. Vital assets for success in Rouen.

2010 SST 120 World Champion Jimmie Merleau.
An OptiMax 200XS SST ready for boxing.

Today, the 200XS SST is the exclusive power for F1 H20’s Nations Cup Championship. The all-new series features two boat teams representing countries from around the world competing in identically rigged tunnel hull race boats.  The Formula 2000 Mercury Grand Prix series in Sweden features the 200XS SST in SST200  class racing. Numerous  U.S. promoters, including the APR Superleague, feature the engine in SST200 class racing as well.

The OptiMax 200XS ROS is the official power of U.I.M. Class 3C offshore racing.
An OptiMax 200XS ROS staged for boxing.

The OptiMax 200XS ROS is the exclusive power behind Union International Motonautique (U.I.M.) Class 3C offshore racing, a highly competitive single engine offshore racing class which competes throughout Europe.  Numerous outboard offshore racing series, including XCat World Powerboat Racing Series, are considering the 200 XS ROS for future competition use. The engine is being tested by the Outboard Drag Boat Association for future low-emissions classes as well.

It is refreshing to see racing organizations throughout the world acknowledge what we’ve known for sometime; OptiMax has a place and a future on the racecourse.

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7 thoughts on “Building a Batch of Champions”

  1. Too bad there is nothing for Stock Outboard. They could sure use a boost and the 10 – 20 – 30 – 40 Engines could be commercial as well for the little guys. Families would sure buy these as all can’t afford the big stuff. Ex President Canadian Boating Federation – A former racer and a consumer of smaller pleasure craft.

    1. I’m sure you remember the 10XS, 25XS and 44XS stock outboards we produced back in the late ’80s – early ’90s. Demand, even in good economic times, was too low to justify continued production and support of engines for stock outboard racing. Our entry level race outboard today is a fourstroke; the 60 EFI FormulaRace. It is raced at the 24 Hours of Rouen and also featured in a support class for the F1H20 tunnel boat racing series. The American Power Boat Association is creating a one-design tunnel boat class for the engine as well.

  2. Is there any plan to bring this motor back as a production motor? I remember when these first came out and they were offered with a 3 year extended warranty, even with a 15″ mid and sportmaster gearcase…Us little V-bottom guys (Allison personally) would love to see them again. 😉

    1. Sorry, Jeff. There is no current plan for a production version. While this was an exceptional performer, it is a difficult engine to produce at a profit. The last consumer engines like this just did not sell well enough to continue. We even made a version exactly as Allison specified — and sold, uh, zero. Too sad. I spent a summer with our test Allison and had a blast with this engine. There are just not enough of us “little v-bottom guys” to make a market.

      Even the pure racers barely buy enough. Notice the kits Rick referred to? Those are for the guys willing to update what they have, rather than buy complete new engines. If some of the world’s race circuits pick up this engine, there may be a resurgence in interest and demand.

      If we can make a buck for our shareholders, it could be back. Now? Not looking good. But I WANT to make ’em! These black beauties are in my blood — even in my DNA!

      1. I guess it’s the awful truth… 😉 Unfortunately, the days of the lightweight high performance 2-strokes is slowly coming to an end. I’ll run my 13 year old 260 until it dies or until I can no longer afford to buy the parts (or until Ruck retires) whichever comes first. 😛 Maybe by that time you guys will have a 15″ supercharged 4 cylinder Verado race edition that’ll spin 13k rpm’s…A guy can hope right?

        Stay strong up there at Mercury Racing!


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