The Chicago-based owner of a 2001 Cigarette Racing Team 38’ Top Gun Lip-Ship Edition, Mike Lopez freely admits to throttling his boat aggressively, especially on his home waters of Lake Michigan. That’s just his style.
“I am pretty rough on it,” he said, then chuckled. “I lean on it pretty hard.”
With its new IMCO Marine SCX Dual Downshaft lower units, this 2001 Cigarette dual-step 38’ Top Gun ran flawlessly at Desert Storm in April—and has run flawlessly since. Photo courtesy/copyright Tom Leigh/Tommy Gun Images.
The 38-footer is powered by a pair of Harris Performance LLC-built 598-cubic-inch, fuel-injected supercharged engines that produce approximately 1,100 hp and 975 foot-pounds of torque, which much to the owner’s chagrin translated to burning through a series of Bravo-style lower units attached to an IMCO Marine SCX upper unit. Jeff Harris, the owner and founder of the Alabama-based engine, service, rigging and restoration shop, which recently became a certified Mercury Racing service center and dealer, and Lopez tried several options, but all of them eventually failed.
“Mike drives hard—when he wants to go, he nails it—but the boat also is really heavy,” said Harris, who replaced the Cigarette’s original 675-hp Zul engines with its current supercharged mills and handled all the rigging. “We had one lower failure after the next.”
Hoping to have the boat reliable in time for this year’s Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., Harris reached out to Fred Inman, Jr. (Harris Performance is one of the San Dimas, Calif.-headquartered company’s strongest distributors.) They discussed the issue and Inman said he’d get back to Harris in the near future.
“Fred calls me one day and says, ‘We have a new lower unit—we’ve tested it on my boat a couple of times and it seems to be fine, so why don’t we send you a couple and see how they do?’ ” Harris said. “We got the new lower units and installed them just in time to head out to Lake Havasu for Desert Storm.”
Called the IMCO SCX Dual Downshaft, the new lower unit features two vertical shafts and two gear sets, which distribute the torque load more evenly. “They were more than two years in development,” Inman said.
“We didn’t break anything during Desert Storm,” Harris said. “We brought the boat back here, and off it went to Chicago for the season. He’s used it at other events and done some prop testing. There have been no problems—literally, nothing has gone wrong.”
Lopez estimated that he has 30 to 40 hours of operating time on his Cigarette’s new IMCO lower units.
“The first set has been working out great—we’ve had them in since April,” he said. “We ran it at the Lake of the Ozarks during the Shootout last month and ran it on Lake Michigan all summer.”
Inman said he currently has six IMCO SCX Dual Downshaft units in stock and interest in them already is hot.
“I have a more whole bunch more being built right now,” he said. “This is a solution that a lot of people have been looking for.”