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500 And 50—Mercury Racing Goes Big For Golden Anniversary

During its 50th anniversary gala celebration tonight in Charleston, S.C., Mercury Racing unveiled its long-awaited 500-hp supercharged 500R outboard engine. And when I say long-awaited, I’m talking about seven-plus years.

Allow me to explain.

The wait is over—a 500R outboard engine from Mercury Racing was unveiled tonight in Charleston, S.C.

Early one morning in January, 2016, my phone started ringing and didn’t stop until that afternoon. A would-be media outlet had reported online that Mercury Racing would unveil a 500-hp outboard engine the following month during the Miami International Boat Show, which was moving to Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key that year.

The first call from came from Terry Sobo, a longtime friend, of Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats in Fort Myers, Fla. A generally mellow guy, Sobo was more than a bit agitated.

“Customers are already calling to delay their orders so they can get the new 500-hp outboard,” Sobo said. “There is no 500-hp outboard. You’ve got to get a story out there that clears this up.”

Then the general manager of Mercury Racing at the time—Erik Christiansen—said almost exactly the same thing when he called a few minutes later. So I interviewed him and within an hour or two we had written and published a story to the effect that the Fond du Lac, Wis., company would not be releasing a 500-hp outboard anytime soon, much less at the 2016 Miami International Boat Show.

Michigan’s Ron Szolack has the first Cigarette Racing Team model, a new 42 Auroris, to be powered by the new supercharged V-8 500-hp Mercury Racing outboards.

The speedonthewater.com story killed the immediate and totally unnecessary drama created by rumor-based reporting. But it didn’t kill the speculation about when Mercury Racing would introduce a 500-hp outboard. Every year as the Miami show approached, the chatter returned.

And now it can mercifully end. The sheet has been pulled off the V-8 creation, and it’s a brawny beauty.

Look for a complete story on the Mercury Racing 500R tomorrow on speedonthewater.com after us media folks, and industry partners alike, get an even closer look at the new engines.

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