All things being equal, Jay Muller would rather be in Wisconsin today touring Mercury Racing headquarters with his fellow offshore racers than working in New Jersey. But as much he would have liked to visit the famed Fond du Lac facility, the Garden State resident is just grateful to be coming to Sheboygan—about 40 miles east of Fond du Lac—tomorrow for the Midwest Challenge offshore races celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary.
Jay Muller and Chris Hopgood of the CELSIUS team will face stiff competition this weekend in the Super Stock ranks. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Just a few weeks ago, Muller, who throttles the Super Cat-class WHM Motorsports catamaran alongside owner/driver Billy Mauff wasn’t even invited to the Powerboat P1-produced event. The Midwest Challenge is exclusive to classes running Mercury Racing engines, and only one team in the Super Cat ranks does that. But with throttleman Ryan Beckley committed elsewhere for a family obligation, Muller is filling in next to owner/driver Chris Hopgood in CELSIUS, a 32-foot Doug Wright Powerboats Super Stock-class raceboat.
“I was pretty pumped when they called me,” said Muller, who earned Super Boat International Super Stock world championships with the late Kyler Talbot of Talbot Excavating in 2010 and 2014.
Muller and Talbot earned their second title in a new 32-footer in 2014. Talbot died after a tragic slip-and-fall accident at his Washington home in 2017 and the boat was eventually sold to the Australia-based Mancine Cosmetics team before Hopgood bought it two seasons ago. Now Muller will be back in the raceboat he knows well.
“I have always wanted to get back in that boat,” he said. “It should be really fun. I get in tomorrow in time for practice. And then we have two days of racing.”
Though they compete against one another in the Super Cat class, Muller (left) and Tyler Miller won’t go head to head this weekend in Sheboygan as Miller is running in Class 1 and Muller in Super Stock.
Though Muller has been out of the Super Stock ranks for several years, he can claim something that none of the more-current competitors in the class can. In the same two years he ran to Super Stock world titles, he also won two Superboat—the SBI name for Super Cat—world championships with Mauff in WHM Motorsports.
Still, Muller is keeping his expectations realistic.
“I’d like us to finish in the top five,” he said. “That’s a good goal.”
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