For over 50 years now, Bullet Boats have created record-breaking rigs and set impossibly high standards in both powerboat and water ski racing.
Whilst it’s impossible to list every legendary Bullet Boat (there’s simply too many), we have tried our best to capture a few of them here.
Many of the Bullet Boats and racing legends mentioned in this article will be present this weekend at the Bullet Boat 50th Anniversary Event.
Savage Force are proud supporters of this event and will have our limited edition Bullet Boat 50th Anniversary Range on sale both at the event and through our website.
A massive thank you to Richard Cleaver, Eric Selwood, Wade Bennett, David Toyer, Steve Thompson, Ken Evans and everyone else who has contributed to the Bullet Boat online community over so many years - without the information, photos and memories that you’ve shared, this article and the 50th Anniversary Celebrations would not have been possible.
Western Marine was the first 1700 tunnel deck Bullet Boat. It was built in 1977 using a wooden deck.
Only 3 days after its construction, it was entered into the Australian Powerboat Championships at Grafton. Driven by racing legends Ken Evans and David Toyer, it respectively finished first and second in the Unlimited Mono class.
Later, the team developed Western Marine into a 1750 hull and entered it in the Park 7-Hour Endura in Arizona USA. Although the boat was entered by Fiona Cameron (wife of Don Cameron, the founder of Bullet Boats) as a tunnel deck, the Yanky race organizers classified the Western Marine as a tunnel boat. This meant the boat was entered in the Unlimited Outboard Tunnel Class race and has to compete against World Champion Mercury & OMC factory race teams.
Despite the stiff competition, drivers Ken Evans, Brain Fleming and Ted McDermott gave the race more than a fair crack. After the 1st hour, the Bullet Boat was running 4th outright. And after the 5th hour, the boat was running 3rd outright. Unfortunately, their heroic efforts came to a screeching halt when the gearbox broke. With Mercury generously providing a replacement gearbox, the team had Western Marine back on the water soon after, eventually finishing 11th outright.
Soon after the boat returned to Australia, the Bullet Boats team gave it a complete overhaul. It was then entered into an Australian Power Boat Association (APBA) time trial event. All three drivers aforementioned drivers made runs at speeds over 110mph, making them members of the Evinrude 100mph Club.
If you know anything about Bullet Boats, I’m sure you already know all about the achievements of Bullet One.
But perhaps you don’t know about Bullet One’s early years?
Bullet one was owned and driven by Eric Selwood between 1980 and 1984. On the weekend of May 23rd 1982, Bullet One was entered to compete at the Lake Munmorah speed trials. However, Eric was unable to attend. In his place, Eric had Craig Bailey take Bullet One to the trials.
At the time, Craig was a talented young apprentice marine mechanic and engine builder. On the day of the event, he made a few simple modifications by winding up the motor a couple of turns and fitting a larger prop. That same day, he went on to set a new APBA Speed Record for a mono hulled outboard with a speed of 183kph (113.09mph).
Then in 1986, Bullet One’s new owner Ken Evans strapped a Bendix-injected 2.4ltr outboard engine to the 1750 tunnel deck. The engine was taken from Mercury Racing and was tailored by Ken to meet his own specifications.
That same year, on the flat waters of Lake Munmorah near Newcastle, Ken drove the Bullet One to a new World Water Speed Record for a single outboard vee bottom mono hull. The APBA clocked Ken’s official speed at 194.609kph (120.02mph). This beat the previous world record held by David Toyer (189kph).
The next year in 1987, Ken drove the same Bullet One setup to establish a new Bridge to Bridge Powerboat Race record. His Unlimited Mono record of 37min 52sec still stands to this day.
Ken will be one of the guest speakers at the Bullet Boats 50th Anniversary Event this weekend.
Image taken by Bob Wonders.
Bullseye was one of the last boats built by Bullet Boats founder Don Cameron. Constructed in 2005 with a Kevlar hull and a 2.5ltr Mercury outboard, this 1750 Bullet is extremely light and very, very quick.
In 2013 it set a new Mod VP record of 167.378kph (104.007mph) and a new Sports Mono record of 164.14kph (102.00mph) at the Taree Powerboat Club. On the same day, driver David Milton also tried to take on Ken Evan’s long-standing Bullet One record but fell short.
This one flies! No really…
Nicknamed the ‘helicopter boat’, Going Grey is one of the few boats to have ever run the Sydney Bridge to Bridge ski race twice in the same day.
To achieve this feat, owner Peter Ross had the boat suspended from a helicopter using a 20-metre chain. Within 18 minutes, Going Grey had completed its return journey from Windsor to Brooklyn.
This was no small deal. This stunt required permission from Air Traffic Control, Richmond RAAF Base, NSW Roads and the NSW Police (who used 4 highway patrol cars to block traffic while the chopper and its load passed over the Brooklyn Bridge).
Peter will be one of the guest speakers at the Bullet Boats 50th Anniversary Event this weekend.
Energy was an iconic lightweight 1500 Bullet Boat built by Don Cameron. At one stage, it was owned by George McKenzie, who was in partnership with Ken Evans at Western Marine (a Bullet Boats dealer).
In Energy, George went on to win the Australian 100 CU Family Class title, setting an Australian record.
George will be one of the guest speakers at the Bullet Boats 50th Anniversary Event this weekend.
Warlord (or War Lord) has to be one of the most prized families of Bullet Boats. The series included:
The 2100 Bullet twin rig went on to win all major races in Australia over a short period. Owned by Steve Thompson between 1992-1995, its accolades included:
After its championship run, the 1995 twin rig was sold to New Zealand, where it remains to this day. It was recently sold to new owners after many years of successful racing in NZ.
Steve remembers Don as “Not only a great bloke but way ahead of his time in building boats and a very clever mechanic”. He will be one of the guest speakers at the Bullet Boats 50th Anniversary Event this weekend.
This was the first 1600 ever built. In the picture above, you can see it being race tested at St George by Ken Evans - before the 1600 was later added to the Bullet Boats range.
Australia was a lightweight 1750 Bullet made of Kevlar and originally owned by Eric Selwood. It featured a single-seat open cockpit and one of the first (if not the first) Mercury electronic fuel injected engines imported into Australia.
This Bullet was originally built to contest the Parker 12 Hour Endurance Race in Arizona USA. Unfortunately, however, it missed the US shipping departure date.
Australia’s luck changed (somewhat) when it was converted to a ski race boat and shipped to Auckland for the Zone 3 World Ski Championships. During the race, Australia lapped every other boat in the field. However, due to the lower octane Avgas that was being supplied in New Zealand, the engine completely disintegrated as it neared the end of its run.
In the end though, nothing could stop Australia - the team had been so far ahead of its competitors that they still finished 2nd under the first past the post count back race rules!
Many of you will remember Fox, a 1500 (and later a 1500TD) Bullet Boat that was driven by Les Coles (an early peddler of Bullet Boats and a pioneer of outboard racing).
Les will be speaking about old-school outboard racing at this weekends Bullet Boats 50th Anniversary Event.
There were two Mercury Bullets built, both owned by L. Beer. One was a 1750 MOC. The other was a 2000 Bullet UL with twin 2.5ltr outboard racing motors. In the video below, you can see it in action during the 1990 Sydney Bridge to Bridge.
I can’t quite figure out the name of this 1850 Bullet, but I just threw it in for good measure. You love to see it!
Don't forget to check out the Savage Force online store for all of your official Bullet Boats 50th Anniversary merchandise!