Constructed in 2008 and originally powered by Mercury Racing 1075 SCi engines with No. 6 drives, a 51-foot Outerlimits V-bottom performance boat called Factory Billet has turned heads since it hit the water. Now, thanks to cutting-edge systems and power some five years in the making, it’s about to turn them again. I was lucky enough to be invited on the first ride for a member of the media in the boat during the recent Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, an annual aquatic top-speed contest in the central Missouri.
Owner Jim Schultz of Zurich, Ill., hasn’t just completely renovated the well-known. He’s been working with ace marine engine man Mike Faucher to develop state-of-the-art systems such as automatic (but override-able) drive and tab trim control, as well as automatic shifting for the 51-footer’s three-speed transmission.
Built from scratch by Factory Billet Power, Schultz’s company in Zurich, the boat’s 10-litre turbocharged V-8 engines make 1,650 HP to 1,950 HP depending on fuel (93 octane for the lower output and E85/E90 for the maximum), according to Schultz, with no manual adjustments to the engines required thanks to their computer control modules. The V-bottom’s Mercury Racing No. 6 drives were set up with 1.24:1 gear ratios and 37-1/2-inch Hering propellers.
Schultz said he plans to bring the engines and systems to market sometime next year.
“I only want one or two customers in the first year,” he said. “I want to be able to take care of them completely.”
Water conditions and boat traffic were far from ideal for high-speed running during our 20-minute test ride the day before the Shootout, but Schultz did blip the throttles and in short order I felt the boat shift gears and watched the numbers change on the monitor ahead of my seat until we were running 110 MPH. Running from idle speed to that number beyond the century mark, he never touched the manual trim buttons for the drives or tabs.
The 51-footer didn’t accelerate—it jumped. The initial jolt and subsequent pull were breathtaking. The last time I felt a boat accelerate that hard was four years ago with John Tomlinson and Mike D’Anniballe in a 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran powered by 1,700 HP Sterling Performance engines on—as it happened—the Lake of the Ozarks. Pre-set to shift at certain speeds, the computer-controlled transmissions seamlessly did their jobs. The automated drive and tab trim systems appeared to work perfectly, as Schultz never touched the manual controls for them, either.
Schultz and Faucher ran the Factory Billet sportboat in the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout competition the following morning. Before the top-speed contest, Schultz said he’d be pleased if he got the boat to 150 MPH on the three-quarter-mile course, as the fastest he’d run the boat was 154 MPH. With a 161 MPH pass on their first run, they tied for the Shootout’s V-bottom Top Gun honor.
“I didn’t expect that,” said Schultz after the event. “But it felt so good that we just stayed in it.”
If the Factory Billet Power project continues on its current trajectory, there’s a good chance Schultz may continue to exceed his own expectations.