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‘Slammed’ Saris Engines Catching Up With New Build And Refresh Work

Two weeks ago, Performance Marine—the home of Saris Racing Engines—in Bolton Landing, N.Y., began a gradual reopening as COVID-19 restrictions in the area began to ease. Now the Saris team is digging out of its four-plus-week hole created by a combination of a busy winter and the New York State lockdown. The father-and son-duo of Jason and Johnny Saris is delighted to be back working a full speed.

Among the projects at Performance Marine is a rebuild of a 575-hp Saris engine—built in 2002—that powers an elegant wooden Van Dam sportboat.

 “We are slammed with engine work,” said Johnny Saris. “We have an 800-hp supercharged Holley EFI engine being refreshed and another new one we’re building, a  naturally aspirated 700-hp Holley EFI engine. We have two new small-block engines with Whipple superchargers to finish. We have two Whipple-supercharged Mercury Racing 525s to refresh and four more than need valve jobs, a 650-hp Class 6 engine to build for a boat I’m going to be racing with a friend and a Mercury Racing 575 SCi to refresh.”

Among the company’s “more interesting” projects is the refreshment of a 575-hp EFI engine Saris built in 2002 to power a 29-foot Van Dam wooden sportboat. Though the owner lives in Lake Elizabeth area of New York, he stores the boat at Van Dam headquarters in Boyne City, Mich., after every boating season. The Van Dam team makes any necessary repairs to the stylish boat during the off season.

The 29-footer remains in the Van Dam facility. Though the Saris crew is refreshing the engine, they don’t know when the boat will arrive so they can reinstall it.

“The owner is a little nervous to drive all the way to Michigan to bring the boat back,” said Saris. “He doesn’t know what hotels—if any—will be open on the way or how comfortable he’d be staying in one right now. He’s coming here today to see it run on the dyno.

“We also have two identical white 29-foot Panteras in the shop right now,” he continued, then laughed. “One is getting a new 700-hp Holley EFI naturally aspirated engine, the other is getting a new 800-hp Holley EFI supercharged engine. If know my customers, the first time the guy in the 700-boat gets passed on Lake George by the guy in the 800-hp supercharged boat, the guy in the 700-hp is going to bring them in for supercharging.”

On the smaller side of the power equation, Saris is upgrading a MerCruiser 350 Magnum with new manifold and throttle bodies for a 22-foot, open-bow Donzi owned Jack Gladke, a devoted speedonthewater.com reader who lives in New York.

“They Saris team is excellent,” said Gladke. “They very knowledgeable, professional and friendly. I travel four hours—one way just to do business with them. They’re the best in the area.”

Said Johnny Saris, “So far, 95 percent of our customers have been just like Jack, super-patient and willing to work with us while we’re catching up.”

Once this 29-foot Van Dam arrives from Michigan, the Saris crew will reinstall its rebuilt engine.

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