The Mercury Midwest Challenge showcased reigning world champion and TNT co-owner, John Tomlinson, along with driver, Taylor Scism of T/S Motorsports, as they battled against Caleb Mead and Shaun Torrente of Mead Family Racing, ultimately taking home 2nd place in 450R Factory Stock Class. As for our Class 1 entry, unfortunately, the race took a different turn for Tomlinson and driver Carlos de Quesada. The two had a scary moment at the first turn when they broke a power steering pump and almost hit Huski Ice Spritz before slowly making their way around the course, resulting in a DNF. For more on the action last weekend, continue reading below.
Torrente and Mead held their advantage through the balance of the nine-lap 450R Factory Stock race with TS Motorsports/MTI teammates Taylor Scism and Tomlinson—the defending world champions—finishing second and throttleman Gary Ballough and driver Willie Cabeza picking up a podium in GC Racing.
“I’m very happy that it turned out like it did today; we got a good start and it helped us,” said Mead, who hadn’t even driven a boat within feet of another one until the week before in Michigan City, Ind., where it was incredibly rough. “Yesterday we got a good chance to practice that with the smoother water and being close to the other boats.”
The boat does have cameras that let the crew see what’s going on outside, but the camera on Mead’s side was out. Fortunately he had a pretty good spotter from shore helping him.
“I was talking to (MTI president) Randy Scism and I was asking him, where are the boats,” Mead said, adding that he figured out the straightaways pretty quickly and on turns, he and Torrente talked their way through. “Shaun would help me and toward the end I had the turns on my own.”
Torrente, who was celebrating a birthday in Sheboygan, was thrilled that Mead already got his first checkered flag in the sport.
Scism said that she and Tomlinson didn’t find out until after finishing Saturday’s race that one of their 450-hp Mercury Racing outboard engines was down on power. They appeared to have the issue solved when they charged out to the lead with MF Racing.
After the mess at the end of turn one, Scism said she held her lane, which left the mayhem among the Doug Wrights behind her and Tomlinson.
“You have four boats going into turn one—something has to give,” she said.
The TS Motorsports/MTI crew had some inside knowledge of what they were up against because Torrente and Mead were racing the boat that Tomlinson and Scism had run in 2022.
“That was my boat from last year and this winter we put one setup on one and the other so the boats are identical,” Scism said. “I knew going out there we had the same setup and the exact same boat. They had clean water and they did a great job and it was a good race.”
She added that when the checkered flag waved, she laughed when she was talking with her spotter, crew chief Milton Calafel, because she knew her father was the spotter for Mead and Torrente.
“I guarantee my dad was on the radio with Caleb and I was laughing about my dad telling him how to beat me,” she said.