As part of the Florida Powerboat Club’s 25th anniversary, club owner/founder Stu Jones announced a formal marketing partnership with Mercury Racing, which involves a full Mercury Racing stern drive repower and restoration of Jones’ pre-owned Cigarette Racing Team 38’ Top Gun, which was built in 2000.
Stu Jones ran the Florida Powerboat Club’s official paceboat, a 2000 Cigarette 38′ Top Gun, in the Miami Boat Show Poker Run in February. Photo courtesy Florida Powerboat Club
With the project currently underway, the 38-foot V-bottom has been de-rigged and is currently being stripped of its existing cabin interior, cockpit and soft goods, according to Jones.
“Celebrating 25 years with Florida Powerboat Club is a real milestone for us at FPC, and I felt now was as good a time as any to engage in some type of exciting paceboat project,” Jones said. “Back when we started FPC in 1993, we had two very similar Cigarette 38 Top Guns that we used as our paceboats on dozens of poker run events. One was the Venus Swimwear boat, the other belonged to a private member who supported FPC in the club’s early stages. I always loved the Top Gun’s ride in the rough water and its traditional Cigarette design. It wasn’t hard to find this 2000 Top Gun from an FPC member, so I purchased the boat last fall.”
Although he had the boat, Jones knew he was only halfway there with the project, as the 38-footer was still rigged with its original Mercury 540 Bull Dogs.
“The motors were 18 years old and had limited shelf life, which made me realize it was time to try and get Mercury Racing on board as a marketing partner on the boat,” Jones said. “I asked around to other club members about different stern drive packages and decided the 540 engines (right, click to enlarge) were the way to go—with Bravo One XR drives and the ITS upgrade. So that’s where we landed, and Mercury Racing was very pleased to get involved.”
Jones conceded that he’s not only going with the repower, but that he’s going to tackle a full cockpit, cabin, flooring and paint restoration.
“I watch some of the custom car shows and auctions on TV, and the term Resto-Mod really stuck out in my head,” Jones said. “I just felt like there would be nothing cooler than a classic, straight-bottom Cigarette with brand-new state-of-the-art hardware and power from bow to stern. This project is so exciting, I feel like a kid again.”
Rick Mackie, Mercury Racing’s senior marketing manager, was a key player in spec’ing out the Top Gun with Mercury Racing propulsion and related accessories, along with Steve Miller, Mercury’s director of marketing, sales and service.
“We are excited to feature Mercury Racing 540 sterndrives in FPC’s official paceboat,” said Mackie, who has worked at Mercury for 30 years. “We’ve been with Stu and his wife, Jackie, throughout their 25-year run. We continue to back FPC for its emphasis on providing safe, organized events for our customers.”
Miller said Mercury is flattered to be part of the project, which Jones expects to be complete by the end of summer, possibly even in time for the club’s Emerald Coast Poker Run (Aug. 15-19).
“It’s become clear to me upon attending the Key West Poker Run on several occasions that Stu and his staff are front-runners in this sport,” Miller said. “They’ve done so much for recreational performance boating. We are honored to be affiliated with such a quality organization.”