Pre-WWII Outboard Racing

by Chuck Petersen

Pre-WWII outboard racing was limited to a relatively small number of enthusiasts using highly modified OMC opposed to two and four cylinder engines running on methanol, castor oil, acetone and benzol instead of pump gasoline. It was in 1947 when the green “Lightening,” “Hurricane,” and “Thunderbolt” Mercury motors ushered in the era of stock outboard racing. The ranks of racers soared as general public could purchase an essentially race-ready motor at their local dealership.

O.F. Christner became a Mercury dealer in 1946 using his existing welding business in Quincy, Illinois as a base. Thus Quincy Welding and Marine was formed. O.F. began racing in 1947 when the two cylinder Mercury “Lightening” hit the scene. After a few years and some success in a class A stock runabout racing, O.F. perceived a need for an alternative to the old OMC rigs for modified class racing. The Mod. (modified engine using gas) and Pro (modified engines using fuel) classes appealed to the hobbyist with the “need to tinker” with their motors. In 1950, Christner began increasing the power of the various Mercury engines mainly by welding a pad in the combustion chamber and converting to alcohol fuel. The aluminum “Pad” would increase the compression ration. This provided a fast, reliable alternative to the “Alky” OMC’s.

In 1956, Dieter Konig in Germany began exporting special race engines equipped with megaphone exhaust systems to the U.S. These temperamental but fast motors soon posed a serious threat to the Christner modified motors. O.F. responded by designing his own open megaphone exhaust system for the two and four cylinder Mercs. The total package became known as a Quincy-Merc.

The Quincy shop expanded to 12 employees modifying Mercs for racing with customers in all 50 states. The product line expanded to include props, tools, helmets and special racing hardware. My dad’s 1953 Switzer/Merc Mk40 rig sports a “Quincy Clamptite” motor locking system. A very significant innovation was “converging stack” tuned exhaust pipe, merging the exhaust from two alternative firing cylinders into one megaphone.
In 1964, further advances in foreign engine design forced O.F. to take drastic measures. The conventional “deflector” motor uses piston surface area to deflect incoming gases into the combustion changer. As power increased, however, the piston top would eventually meld down, yielding unpleasant results. O.F. designed a loop scavenged block that would allow the use of flat top piston design. Thus the Quincy “Looper” was born.

During my active racing years, 1983-1990, no sound was more awe-inspiring than 6 cylinder loopers revving to 9000 rpm in the Pro-1100 or class F Alky Class. One racer I recall was Bruce Summers from Illinois. He could really get that big six running! I’m sure some of these motors are still around racing today. I would like to thank Tom Schmidt for his book, “O.F. Christner – Father of the Quincy Mercury and Quincy Loop outboards and my friend, Jerold Wienandt for the information used in this article.