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HomeRacingTeamwork On Fire—Inside M CON/Monster Energy’s Rebound From An Onboard Blaze

Teamwork On Fire—Inside M CON/Monster Energy’s Rebound From An Onboard Blaze

The crew chief for the Super Cat-class M CON/Monster Energy Super Cat team, Jake Leckliter oozes cool. From heading up the rigging—alongside M CON driver Myrick Coil—of the team’s new Class 1 Monster Energy/M CON Skater Powerboats catamaran in a mere three weeks to becoming a first-time father a few days before the project began, the dude doesn’t get rattled.

Knocked out of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix with an engine compartment fire, the M CON/Monster Energy team claimed victory at its next race, the Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City, Ind. Photo by  Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

The unflappable guy you got to know well if you watched the Speed On The Water/Scrapyard Media documentary capturing Monster Energy/M CON Class 1 build? That wasn’t an act—that’s who he is.

So when the crew opened the engine hatches of the team’s Super Cat-class Skater after a broken fitting in the water system caused the starboard Sterling Performance engine to overheat and cause a small but stubborn fire during the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in early July, Leckliter didn’t flinch.

“Given the unfortunate circumstances, I was actually pleased to see there was no structural damage,” Leckliter said. “But pretty much everything in the last 12 feet of the boat had to be replaced.”

Back in the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix pits, Leckliter (left) got his first look at the damage.

Between fire-extinguisher discharge and saltwater sprayed into the bilge by first-responders as they tried to douse flames that kept reigniting, the 38-footer’s bilge literally was, pardon the pun, a hot mess. The engine compartment hatches warped from the heat. Both Sterling Performance engines had to go, as did all the rigging from trim pumps to lines and hoses.

For Leckliter and company, the project was a breeze compared to rigging a Class 1 raceboat, especially now that time was on their side. The team’s next race, the Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City, Ind., was a full month away.

“We did it during regular business hours, for the most part, with a few late nights,” Leckliter said. “I told (team owner and throttleman) Tyler Miller it would take two-and-a-half weeks from start to finish.”

The team replaced one of its engines with an ever-present spare. Sterling “expedited” the ongoing rebuild of another Super Cat engine. “We always have one spare with us and one engine being rebuilt at Sterling,” Leckliter explained.

Replacement engines were a must, and Sterling Performance rose to the challenge.

Skater built new hatches for the cat at its Douglas, Mich., headquarters. Once the Performance Boat Center crew cleaned and repainted the bilge, the M CON crew began installing new components and fresh Sterling power.

“I was very proud of all our team’s late nights and efforts to prove team M CON will never quit and never back down to a challenge,” Leckliter said. “As I told Tyler, it’s going to be put back together better and faster than before.”

A few weeks later, the M CON/Monster Energy team took the Super Cat-class checkered flag in Michigan City. It was the roughest of the year to date, and the newly rigged and repowered 38-footer performed flawlessly on its way to victory.

“Jake, Craig, Dave and the entire Performance Boat Center crew pulled off the unimaginable again with getting the boat re-rigged,” said Miller, who owns the team with his wife, Lindsey. “Their never-give-up attitude, along with a world-class high-performance shop like Performance Boat Center, keeps M CON Racing/Monster Energy at the top. We are blessed with the best.

“It’s unbelievable what they achieved in two-and-a-half weeks,” he added. “And then we ran the boat in the roughest race of the season with zero mechanical issues.”

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