Just got a call from Bob Christie, the owner of the well-known Speed Racer catamaran. While the 44-foot-long Marine Technology, Inc. cat is far from new, it never fails to capture big attention whenever it hits the water. It’s one of those “theme boats” that for, whatever reason, doesn’t get stale.
But regardless of its timeless appeal, the boat was never what you’d call “fast.” Running with other cats such as poker-run notable Bill Pyburn’s 180-plus-mph 388 Skater, Speed Racer’s 150-mph-ish top end was solid enough, but not outstanding.
Those days are done. In testing yesterday in the waters off Coconut Grove, Fla., the cat topped 170 mph with a new pair of 1,300-hp engines from Potter Performance Engines turning 6,100 rpm.
“We were still climbing,” said Christie, who owns Typhoon Service Center in Toms River, N.J., which installed and rigged the supercharged, electronically fuel-injected engines. “But we had people in the boat and needed to back it down. At 5,600 rpm, we were running 148 mph.
“At one point earlier in the run, I looked at the GPS and it read 116 mph. I looked ahead at the water, then glanced at the GPS a few seconds later and we were at 135,” he added.
Prior to being re-powered, Speed Racer had a pair of 1,175-hp supercharged and carbureted Potter engines.
“The mid-range torque and acceleration we’re getting from the new engines are unbelievable,” said Chuck Burke, Christie’s longtime friend and throttleman. “It’s a torque monster.”
During the first day of testing on Monday, Speed Racer’s port engine was running slightly lean. Engine builder Ron Potter and an assistant came down to Grover Harbor Marina from his shop in Bradenton, Fla., and resolved the issue.
“The air gap setting was off a little bit,” said Burke. “They worked with the timing at idle and adjusted the settings to deliver a little more fuel at the bottom end. We have underwater exhaust, which makes those settings a little more tricky. If Speed Racer had through-transom exhaust, it probably wouldn’t have been an issue. But it’s solved now.”