Thanks in large part to Vinnie Diorio, the owner of the Wisconsin-based SV Offshore Racing team, electronically fuel-injected Mercury Racing 860 engines became a legal power option in 2022 under American Power Boat Association rules for the Super Cat class. Two teams—SV Offshore Racing and LiquorSplit—used them last season.
And now there is one.
SV Offshore Racing will run spec carbureted Super Cat-class engines from Sterling Performance this year in its 39-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats raceboat. Performance Boat Center of Osage Beach, Mo., currently is installing a pair of Sterling Performance engines, the same set that powered the Canada Homes team of owner/driver Lorne Leibel and throttleman John Tomlinson to a Super Cat world championship in 2021, in the cat.
SV Offshore Racing will run Sterling Performance engine this season and Scorpion Racing Enterprises engines next year. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
At issue for Diorio was weight, not the added 300 pounds per engine of the 860s themselves above their carbureted counterparts but the extra weight any Super Cat-class raceboat using them had to carry per the rules.
“I got tired of carrying an extra 700 pounds when our fuel-injected Mercury Racing engines had the same horsepower as the carbureted engines other teams ran,” Diorio explained. “We were at a disadvantage before our boat ever got in the water.”
Diorio emphasized that his decision to change engines for the 2023 season was entirely based on the weight penalty imposed for using them. He had nothing but praise for the products from the Fond du Lac, Wis., company. Minus the weight penalty, he said, they’d still be in his raceboat.
“The reliability of the Mercury Racing engines was second to none, but I want to be on the same playing field as the rest of the Super Cat class this season,” he said. “The owners voted I would still have to carry the extra weight if I stuck with the 860s. So if you can’t beat them, join them.
“My boat was wicked-fast with carburetor motors,” he added. “Now that I have a little more experience and our team is hungry for a victory, we’re not stopping till we get one.”
Vinnie Diorio expects his team to be significantly more competitive minus the added weight he was required to add when he used the Mercury Racing 860 engine platform. Photo by Cole McGowan copyright Powerboat P1.
For the 2024 season, Diorio has tasked Frank McComas of Scorpion Racing Enterprises, LLC, to build two sets of engines for the SV Offshore Racing season.
“I know there are other great Super Cat engine-builders out there and I have nothing but respect for them, but I am looking forward to work with Frank,” said Diorio.
In the meantime, there is work to be done and not a lot of time to do it. The Race World Offshore-produced 7 Mile Grand Prix, the season-opener for the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series in Marathon, Fla., is just a month away.
“We have a lot of work to do before Marathon, but with Greg Hillmer of Performance Boat Center heading our operation I know we’ll get it done.,” said Diorio. “All the rest of the guys on the crew were ecstatic when I made the decision to make the switch.
“I felt we were somewhat competitive before,” he added. “But being on the level playing field at 9,500 pounds I expect to be there every race.”
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