Four Questions With Stuart Halley, New Manager of Mercury Racing

From jet fighters to go-fast boats, Halley’s career involves making things go fast.

Stuart Halley, New Manager of Mercury Racing
Halley’s career involves making things go fast.Courtesy Mercury Racing

A real rocket scientist is running Mercury Racing. Stuart Halley holds an aerospace engineering degree and worked at Lockheed on the F-16 National Aero-Space Plane (X-30) and F-22 aircraft programs before joining Mercury Marine in 1993. Previously serving as Product Development & Engineering Director at Mercury, 56-year-old Halley was named general manager at Mercury Racing in May, 2018, replacing the departed Eric Chistiansen in one of the highest-profile positions in the marine industry. Mercury Racing is the undisputed leader in high-performance marine power, with products likes its Verado 400R outboard, QC4v V8 sterndrive engines and the new 250R and 300R FourStroke outboard models. We gave Halley a few months to settle in at his new position before requesting a quick interview.

What is the product development focus at Mercury Racing right now?
After successful launches of the 860 and 1750 QC4v sterndrive engines and SB4 automotive crate engines in 2017 we're focused on replacing legacy OptiMax XS technology. Earlier this year we launched the 250R and 300R high-performance V8 outboards. Our current focus is ensuring these new engines successfully transition into the market and improve the overall Mercury Racing customer experience as new power or repower. The new V-8 outboards are much more refined than the outboards they replace, with improvements in all attributes important to the Racing customer, including higher top speeds, 87-octane fuel compatibility and a full three-year factory warranty.

There's tremendous interest in outboard-powered performance boats and performance/luxury center consoles that's been fueled by the 400R...do you see a new trend on the horizon?
We have also noticed this trend the past number of years. We believe the 400R will remain important to these segments going forward while the new V-8-powered outboards provide an opportunity for more customers to experience the exhilaration and refinement of outboard-powered performance on center console boats and catamarans.

Project 1080 – the collaboration with the Florida Powerboat Club and Mercury Racing to re-fit an 18-year-old Cigarette – is really interesting. There may be thousands of performance boats from that era out there with similar potential. How much interest is there in re-fit projects like this and are they a cost-effective way to enjoy performance boating?
At Mercury Racing we are very excited about Project 1080. This could be the start of something as exciting as what our automotive SB4 7.0 crate-engine partner Roadster Shop does: modernizing and improving a classic car to meet customer demand and expectations. Today's customers want products that are unique and differentiated but also deliver modern performance, refinement, and convenience features. Project 1080 may start that trend and, if so, we will be there to support the effort. The classic Cigarette and the heritage it stands for is the perfect platform to showcase this initiative.

How will Mercury Racing exploit the full potential of the new V8 outboard platform?
The new V-8 platform offers new advancements in technology, making it more modern than the outgoing product it replaced, and its focus is delivering a higher level of performance and refinement that today's customers demand. The new engine provides the customer a more premium, refined overall experience. We also offer the latest in propellers and steering options to meet the expectations of the Mercury Racing consumer. Mercury Racing is exploiting this through a higher level of boat integration with multiple midsection and gearcase combinations, including factory installed rear tie bar and side steering brackets to make a seamless transition from older legacy power on multi-engine catamarans and single engine performance vee-bottoms.