After two frustrating seasons with supercharged engines, the Super Boat International Superboat Unlimited-class Envy Racing team is changing gears and going with turbocharged powerplants from Stotler Racing Engines in its 50-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran. That’s the word from team owner/driver Chris Cox, who will once again share the cockpit with his engine builder and throttleman, Herb Stotler.
The Envy cat last appeared on the racecourse during 2015 SBI National Championships—the Envy team’s third mechanical-issue-filled event of the four-race SBI season—in Clearwater, Fla. Following the Clearwater race, Cox elected to pass on the SBI Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., (read the story) and allow his team to regroup. Though the decision was an emotional letdown for the entire team, it also took the pressure of its members.
Last seen at the 2015 SBI National Championships in Clearwater, Envy will be back in action with turbocharged engines this season. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“Sitting out of Key West obviously sucked, but we had to make a decision and Key West was the sacrifice we had to make,” said Cox. “We had three different engine programs going last year, including a turbo program we started very early in the year, but that wasn’t the priority and we weren’t in a particular rush. We had a new roots-style blower on a big-cubic-inch, fuel injected engine that we thought would have enough power and be reliable enough for us to be competitive in our class. We went three miles into Clearwater and blew up that program, so we ran with the old BDS blower system and sacrificed a lot of power.”
Cox said he considered having turbocharged Mercury Racing 1650 engines installed in Envy this season, but knew that also would mean completely rerigging the 50-footer. Plus, he still had faith in Stotler.
“I like Herb and I think he has a great product,” he said. “I was pulling him in different directions, so I took a step back and let Herb do what he does best. We have a really talented group of engineers and all these great product companies collaborating on our engines. Garrett is supplying the turbochargers. Whipple came up with really cool intercoolers. We have custom fuel rails and new handmade, one-of-a-kind manifolds. The hardware is being delivered and we’re beginning to see the rewards. All of the months of effort are starting to materialize, and we’re beginning the construction phase with the engines, which will be between 600 to 700 cubic inches.”
Cox declined to discuss power possible power outputs, emphasizing that the current focus of the new turbo engine program is reliability.
“We have another month or two before the engines will go on the dyno, and we’ll do some significant testing there before we put the motors in the boat and start testing on Lake Lanier,” he said. “Then we’ll do some saltwater testing. After that, we’ll come up with the ‘when and where’ as far as the season is concerned.”
To plan the 2016 offshore racing season, Cox said he will start with the SBI Key West Worlds and “work backward” to select events. With six races on the SBI schedule this year, he and his team will have more options than they did last year.
“Right now, our racing schedule isn’t a priority but we will help SBI anyway we can,” said Cox. “We like racing with them and that’s where our competitors are. How do you know what you have until you race against somebody?”
“We have a huge task ahead of us just to get the engine program together,” he continued. “We didn’t let the natural progression happen last year—we built the engines, went to the race sites with them and tested on site. That didn’t’ work out too well. But everyone is in good spirits. Bob Bull and Randy Scism and those guys on the CMS team definitely set a high bar last season. One of the allures of the Unlimited class is that everyone has their own ideas of what they should do and be doing. I really didn’t want to follow suit with a Mercury-based program—Bob really was the pioneer of that. But the spirit of the Unlimited class is coming up with something no one else has seen, not ‘reinventing the wheel’ but putting our own spin on it. I went to (Mystic Powerboats principal) John Cosker and got this really great platform, but I don’t think we’ve done the boat justice yet. We are going to correct those issues, show what the boat really can do and have some fun doing it.”