Outerlimits makes some of the most radical performance boats on the market today, and a pair of Mercury HP 1075SCi engines fit nicely inside. Shown here is Mike Stevensen’s 47’ GTX Carbon-Edition ‘Mamba’ at the Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu, Arizona.

ExtremeEngineBuilders / Series

mercury racing

Mercury Racing: Winning DNA
An Interview with Fred Kiekhaefer

“It’s a reality of life that men are competitive, and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they’re there – to compete. They know the rules and the objectives when they get in the game. The objective is to win – fairly, squarely, decently, by the rules – but to win!” ViNCe LOMBardi

7480 C oUntY r oaD UU FonD DU L aC , WisConson 54935 920-921-5330
WWW. mErCUrYraCing . Com

mErCUrY raCing

While immortals such as the great Vince Lombardi were showing the world how to play football, immortals of industry were showing the world how to make a better outboard engine. The playing fields may have had different shapes but the competitive spirit and ferocity for the game is what made Carl Kiekhaefer and Vince Lombardi contemporaries, each driving their team to victory by sheer will and determination. On a brutally cold Wisconsin morning in mid December, Mercury Racing opened its doors to EBM and allowed us to bask in the glory and heritage of Mercury Racing. F o u n d e r , C a r l K i e k h a e f e r , may no longer walk these hallways and shop floors, but his booming voice and the leftover scent of his cigars still assault the subconscious senses. His personality was so powerful that many men and women that worked for him claimed he had been the most domineering factor in their adult lives. His business consumed his life, his employees and his dealers. He was a man that found his niche in life and went after it with every fiber in his body, and the bodies of those that worked for him. He was to the boating world what Lombardi was to Football, a winner!
Also see our “Mercury Historical Timeline”: Pages 74-75

The odd building with round porthole windows overlooking Lake Winnebago is where Carl Kiekhaefer left his final mark on the marine industry, the original home of Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors. This facility is now called Mercury Racing and Carl’s son, Fred Kiekhaefer rules over the high performance boating world from the same office that his father used before him. After getting a tour around the facility from Rick Mackie, Mercury Racing’s Senior Marketing Manager, it’s apparent that there is a high level of pride in each employee. It shows through in the way they talk about the products they design and manufacture. As Carl would often say, “Nothing less than perfection is acceptable” and they still believe that to this day. We went to Mercury Racing’s Fond du Lac facility to learn why their engines are so dominant in the Poker Run and Racing ranks; To find out why many boaters consider them ‘the best’. What we came away with was a larger story, a story about an American icon and how it came to be. On the surface, it’s all about passion for perfection and the pursuit of speed. But the story here is really about the Kiekhaefer family and their history making crusade upon the boating industry. Fortunately for all of us, it’s also a story about the enjoyment that their products have provided to people around the globe.



Volume 3.2 | E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE


ExtremeEngineBuilders / Series
mercury racing

Mercury Racing

the race course for all to see” mentality has provided terrific advertising platform. Mercury products, especially the racing products, have enjoyed an inherent level of excitement because of their racing heritage. Carl understood product placement long before Hollywood. This type of advertising goes way beyond a good brochure or a public relations firm. It comes from the consumer’s personal experience of either using, or watching, someone race a Mercury product. In a “ya get what ya pay for” world, Mercury Racing has products with the highest value in the industry. Carl’s son Fred Kiekhaefer is now in charge of Mercury’s high performance empire. Fred grew up with Mercury as his brother, he lived through it all, sometimes from a distance and other times with his own nose against the grindstone. Mercury Marine has been in his blood his entire life. Some might say that Fred’s blood runs Phantom Black. Fred was nice enough to take some time out of his busy day and answer some questions that he’s probably been asked a thousand times before.
‘39 CeDArBurG MfG Carl forms Kiekhaefer Corporation from the ashes of the Cedarburg Mfg Co (which had been producing outboard engines.) It had everything Carl needed to design and build mechanical products. 50,000 MIle test Product testing has always been important to Mercury. Pictured above is a 50,000 mile endurance test of an outboard on Lake-X. The test boat is being refueled continuously.

Throughout the tour, I’ve heard Rick Mackie use the term “Black Art” several times. What does “Black Art” mean? Fred explains, “It’s knowledge that comes from doing. It’s knowledge that you can’t put into words, and you can’t put into a manual. It’s learned from doing something Mercury’s way for many years. Dennis Cavanaugh is a perfect example of a “Black Artist”. Dennis was the head of our propeller department. He knew everything about propellers, probably the most knowledgeable person in the world on the subject. We lost him a few years back to a tragic fall in his home. With him went a tremendous amount of knowledge. It has taken us some time to recover from loosing him. Now we have Scott Reichow and Ron Steiner who have taken over where Dennis left off. It’s a brain trust.” What type of boat do you have? Fred smiles and says, “I am between boats. I had a 42 McManus offshore boat and I haven’t replaced it yet. I have a Maxum bow rider that I play around with on the lake.” Did you take over the business after your Dad retired? “No. The story is my father left Mercury after the Brunswick management attempted to promote somebody over his head and kind of kick him upstairs. You didn’t kick my Dad anyplace. He didn’t go anywhere without kicking and screaming at the very least.” When your father sold to Brunswick, what percentage did he sell? “He sold all of his company to Brunswick. When he left, he started up another company. In the beginning he didn’t know exactly what he was going to do, but he ended up building snowmobile engines because it was two-stroke technology and that was not included in the non-compete. He dabbled in that for a while and then started making parts for offshore racing stern drives. Making them stronger so they’d live. He started making racing engines. Did contract machine work. Did a whole bunch of things, whatever he found entertaining. He tried to get into turbine engines, but couldn’t quite figure out how to make that happen.”

The new company was Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors? “Yes. He then restarted Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors, dormant since World War II. I was in and out of that depending upon how easy it was to get along with him. Ultimately, I went completely off on another career path. When he passed away, I came back and bought the assets from his estate and salvaged what I could of the business. I started a new company, Kiekhaefer Aeromarine, Inc. Basically pushed it in a whole new direction.” Didn’t anyone want to buy the business? “No. There was nothing there worth buying out. It was not a pretty story at the end of Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors. It’s kind of sad in some ways, but my Dad was doing things that he wanted to do. He made the money in the first place so it was his to lose.” “When he died, I looked at it this way, I could leave my consulting career and come back here, have a chance of making good out of the legacy. If I stayed with consulting, eventually, I would have to come back and deal with an empty factory because none of my family are business oriented or capable of running it. I didn’t believe the business would survive. I figured sooner or later I am going to have to deal with the facility, the property and everything else. It’s better to do it as a growing concern.” When you say “new direction” are you talking about the Kiekhaefer drive? Fred replies, “Well that didn’t come first. First, we successfully upgraded the quality of the trim tabs. Brought out the zero effort controls. Dramatically expanded the propeller lines. Did contract machine work for other companies including Mercury High Performance. Just whatever we could do to make the business successful. My father had the luxury of being able to fund the business out of his pocket. That wasn’t a luxury I had.

freD KIeKhAefer Proudly displaying the HP 1075 SCi engine at the 2005 Los Angeles Boat Show

Mercury Racing
E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE | Volume 3.2

CARL KIEKHAEFER WAS A LEGEND IN HIS OWN TIME. His passion for engineering perfection combined with his need to always win produced an explosive temper that became his personal trademark. He was brilliant at marketing his products to the general public. Carl, always under-rated the horsepower of his motors, giving the consumer more than they were paying for. In the early days, if it said 10 HP, you could bet it put out at least 13 HP. Carl’s marketing concept worked, his Mercury outboards would always outrun a competitive model with the same horsepower rating. Consumers soon viewed Mercury engines as “high performance”. To this day, Mercury Racing has followed Carl’s original promise of delivering more horsepower than advertised on the cowl. Carl Kiekhaefer always had an affinity with racing, especially winning races. In 1955, Mercury sponsored a three-car team for several years in NASCAR and at the Carrera Panamericana rally across Mexico. But boat racing, of any kind and size was always his passion. He was never at the wheel, but his factory paid drivers were the best of their time and were expected to break (either the boat or their bodies) or win. You’ll always find Mercury Outboards on race boats, you can’t say that about the competition. This type of “prove it on

Fred, could you enlighten us about your family history? Fred begins, “Carl’s father, my Grandfather, August Kiekhaefer, owned a large dairy farm. When Carl graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, August bought a manufacturing plant for Carl as a gift for graduating from engineering school. The company that he bought had made outboard motors for Montgomery Ward and others. The final shipment of 300 outboard motors was rejected and all got returned. Carl had all these engines in inventory and the first thing that he did to raise capitol was to repair the defective outboard motors. His initial plan was to make equipment for the dairy business. That’s what Carl intended to do, but he never got that far. He was going to make magnetic clutches and separators. The separators, as I understand it, were used to pull magnetic material, like bits of barbwire, out of cow feed before the cows ate it.” “He needed money so he re-worked the outboard motors and re-sold them to Montgomery Ward. Once they got those outboard motors and found that they worked, they started to place orders for more outboards for the following year. That’s how my father got into the outboard motor business.”

2004:hp 1075 sCi Mercury Racing firmly established itself in the ‘Extreme‘ engine builder category with the launch of their 1075hp monster. Combining performance with reliability, it is the best of all worlds. List price is $150,000.00 (including a #6 Drive). I’ll take two please...

Volume 3.2 | E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE


ExtremeEngine Builders
mercury racing
Mercury Racing [ w w w. m e r c u r y r a c i n g . c o m ] Fond Du Lac, Wisconson See Mercury Historical Timeline, pages 74-75
MODEL 525 EFI 600 SCi 850 SCi 1075 SCi RETAIL PRICE* $59,000 $64,000 $127,000 $150,000 WARRANTY 1 Year 1 Year 180 Day 90 Day INFORMATION Includes Bravo One XR drive Includes Bravo One XR drive Includes Dry-Sump Six drive Includes Dry-Sump Six drive

ComPanY LoCation YEar EstaBLisHED stErnDriVE ProDUCts


EnginEs / YEar

Tons (i.e. top secret...) Generations of knowledge, 65+ years of engine building experience There are people who could have survived if sanctioning organizations would have been paying more attention to the safety capabilities by requiring full capsules, air supplies, harnesses and Hans devices. Of course you’ve got the marine environment, with a perpetual debate between closed and open helmets and I don’t know who wins that one. The moves that the high-end classes have made toward oxygen systems and full restraint harnesses have all been good things, but I would love to see impregnable casings around the pilots of these things. I am pleased with the progress we have made in the last decade, but it needs to extend into all racing classes.” Everyone has been very tight lipped about new products, would you like to share any new thoughts on where you’re going with the Company? “I’ll see you in Miami. It’s a nice place in February. Bring your camera, we’ll go for a ride.” I’ll take you up on that offer Fred!
SHOP FLOOR TOUR: Fred has surrounded himself with an army of high-octane talent like Jim Goerlitz, Manager of Race Support Marketing. Jim gave us some insight into Mercury’s racing efforts and the support that they provide to the racers. Jim, what Supercats were running your motors this year? “Currently Mercury supplies Supercat motors to CRC, WHM and Bacardi Silver.” Please explain the costs involved with running a Supercat program. Jim explains, “Racer price is $46,000 a piece, then we rebuild them after every race or two, depending upon the program they are running. A minor rebuild is $7,000 per engine, a major rebuild is $10,000 per engine and if they win, we give a free rebuild for both motors. Mike Defrees did ok this year, CRC won a lot of races and got a lot of free rebuilds. I think he even made some money with the winnings from OSS.” Jim continues, “We also offer a racer contingency program for teams that run our 525 racing engines. A 525 attached to Six drives gets $1,500 per race, the engine with Bravo’s earns $1,000 per race. It doesn’t matter if they win or loose, just race our equipment and if you run a Super Vee with Six drives,

MAIn fACIlItY (From left) This building was designed by Carl with round “porthole style” windows like on a ship. Inside the shop floor area for two cycle products. A craftsman building a number six drive may spend up to an hour per set of gears to get them to mesh just right so there is no binding throughout an entire rotation... as they say, it’s a “Black Art”.

I only bought assets of products that I thought I could make into something.” Fred continues, “We wound up the manufacturing again, started making the products, made it profitable and then went on to develop the Kiekhaefer drive. We took a couple of World Championships with that drive then we were purchased by Brunswick Corporation -- the same company that bought my Dad’s company.” How does Mercury Racing fit into the larger Brunswick org? “We are a division of Mercury Marine, which is a wholly owned division of Brunswick. The corporate entity is Brunswick, that’s our parent. We’re a division of another division - Mercury.” Tell me a little about your father’s life long battle with OMC. “Look at it like a wrestling match. There are people that get cheered for it, and there’s people that get booed at. What’s the fun if there’s no enemy to vanquish?” What did Mercury do right that they did wrong? “My father used to really enjoy battling OMC. At sales meetings, he’d hang an Evinrude over a bonfire and get the dealers all worked up watching it burn. A little tacky, in my opinion. Mercury paid attention to their business a little more. I think we had more critical mass. I think on average our products were better, certainly more exciting. They had some good products, and some excellent brands. They had some good distribution; we just had a little better distribution and were a little quicker on the uptake of developing trends like engine-boat packaging and direct-to-OEM channel relationships.” Did it help that Mercury enjoyed a patent on the outdrive for seventeen years? “Well, that is a non-trivial question. That’s actually a very complicated issue.” I noticed when the OMC Cobra came out and Yamaha came out, I figured the patent rights had expired. “Yes, the patent rights indeed expired at the time you saw that happen. But Volvo held the patent and it was licensed by Brunswick. That was done because Volvo was very eager to not have the truth come out about how the

outdrive was created. It was actually created by people on Mercury’s payroll who then clandestinely sold the rights for the engineering and development to Volvo. If you look closely, you’ll notice the photo of the first Volvo prototype has a Mercury gearcase. So there was a very real risk of litigation around that. My father, by the way, never knew any of that while he was alive.” Who is your biggest competitor these days now that OMC is out of the picture? “On the outboard side you could name all the players, but the big ones are Yamaha, Honda. We’re by far, the largest in the marketplace. Sterndrives we’re substantially number one. Beyond Volvo, no real head-to-head competitors of any strength.” Along the way, what was your Edsel? “I got burned in the late 80’s by attempting to bring out an integrated engine silencing system. I had a product that was very elegant in it’s execution but it was just a total piece of garbage. It didn’t last very long. There were just things we didn’t understand about the chemistry and the acceleration of deterioration with heat. It was our first attempt at the muffler and I think we bought back every thing we sold. Of course that was a time when the company was still very highly leveraged and we really couldn’t afford a lot of mistakes.” So you were buying back your reputation? “That’s right. It also reinforced an old lesson about the value of serious validation. Product validation in the marine environment is a duty we have to perform to be a world-class manufacturer. A lot of the reason that we don’t have more competitors is because other people don’t validate the way we validate. Then they end up unable to figure out why their stuff doesn’t stay together. We’ve had people come in -- trying to become serious players in the performance market. It’s happened twice since I’ve been in my role at Mercury Racing and both times they withdrew.”


stress test This 557 Cubic inch block is about to get dressed up in 850 SCi trim and sent to the dyno for some torture testing.

What is the one thing that you wish today, in hindsight, you had a chance to do over again and do differently? “Oh boy. At the time I sold my company, Brunswick wasn’t engaged in ‘creative acquisitions’ where they would buy a minority share in somebody. They bought all or nothing -- so I sold all of it. In recent years, Mercury and Brunswick have done transactions where they bought a part of a company. Quite frankly, I sold my company because I was concerned for continued employment of my people and surviving in an economic downturn with a highly leveraged company. I spent a lot of money to acquire these assets; we grew very fast; so, everything I had went back into working capital. More leverage, more bank debt, because we were growing the company quickly. When I got in it, it was a down spot in the cycle, so I rode the wave up.” “I would have done better financially had I sold 40% or 50% of the company and enjoyed the increase of the business value that came from growing it so substantially. It’s done very very well. I would have loved to have found a way to not have had to sell the company, but having sold it, there’s not a better partner I could have joined. The synergy that we were able to achieve with the capable people I found inside Mercury’s organization, plus the entrepreneurial spirit that I brought to it, the combination of the two was remarkable. We went places that I could have not have gone on my own. I took the business, with the help of a lot of good people, to places that Mercury Racing would not have gone on it’s own. It’s been a lot of fun. I will tell you, the talent, capability, depth of organization, and access to expertise... it was a great learning curve and we’ve been able to get an awful lot done.” If you could just wave your magic wand and change one thing about boat racing what would you want to see? “Anytime I look at racing, I think about the safety of the people participating. I would like to have had total capsules much earlier. We’re getting very, very close to that now, but we’ve lost too many good people along the way -Dick Fullum and Mike Poppa, Mark Lavin, and Tom Gentry, we just loose too many good people through accidents.


E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE | Volume 3.2

Volume 3.2 | E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE


ExtremeEngine Builders
mercury racing

shop tour (From left) Scott Reichow and Ron Steiner showing the difference between how a propeller enters the building in the form of a raw casting and how the finished product looks when it leaves on it’s way to a customer. Every engine spends at least one hour on the dyno before it leaves the factory. Fred Kiekhaefer and Rick Mackie of Mercury Racing in front of quartet of HP 1075s engines.

Zero effort Controls are still built by hand and remain the industry standard in racing quadrant controls.

you can get up to $24,000 back in cold hard cash at the end of the season if you run all eight races.” What you get when you buy a Mercury Racing product is very personal attention. There’s no separate line for race engines versus pleasure engines. When a 525 comes off the dyno, they don’t know who the end customer will be or how it will be used. It could go into a race boat or recreational sport boat. Everything here is made to racing specs. Hand assembled is what makes this place tick. As an example, there’s one guy that assembles the dry-sump Six drives. He spends hours assembling each set of gears inside the housing. This is where black art comes in, getting multiple sets of matched gears to mate in such a way that there’s no binding point throughout the rotation of all gears in a finished unit. The 525’s and 600’s are built on the “Horsepower Highway”. Engines move along a rail, paced by a single mechanic assigned to that engine. He moves it along to each station that has bins for the parts needed to continue the build. However, the Super Cat race engines, 850SCi’s and 1075SCi’s are built in a separate area and each engine has a dedicated build team, two men per engine. The guys that build them are the same guys you see at all the races, jumping into the engine compartment of each Mercury powered Super Cat just prior to the race. Now that’s what you call customer support! Another Mercury Racing product is a complete line of propellers. There must have been a thousand raw castings of the five-blade cleaver props for the dry-sump Six drive in bins awaiting their turn against the grinder. Hours and hours go into turning these raw castings into beautifully polished pieces of stainless steel. This is the area where they practice their black magic. With sparks flying, the technicians know just where to grind a little extra when lab finishing a propeller for a specific application. Scott Reichow, the manager of Custom Propellers tells us about how propellers have had to evolve to meet the needs of stepped hulls. “Steps create about an inch to an inch and a half of foam on the bottom of the boat. Combine the high X dimension along with the steps and the old tried and true four blade had too much slip. So we made the five blade Maximus. It has a little more diameter, an extra blade and we played with the blade geometry a bit, it really hooks up to the water way better than the four blade.”

We got sidetracked along the way, but the original reason we came to Mercury Racing was to learn the answer to this one question, What makes Mercury Racing engines so exceptional? That answer came from Fred himself:

“We have a relentless pursuit of consistency through repetition. We test it until it won’t break even when pushed far beyond its anticipated stress levels. We refine each part so they work in harmony with the rest of the assembly. When we build a new product or engine, we first look for results in the dyno, then it’s time to start testing at X-Site. We race and we punish our equipment and examine the results. We are perfectionists and no engine has ever left this factory without running on the dyno for at least an hour. Our goal is zero failure of any component under the harshest of conditions. We hope that our products have provided our customers with many years of enjoyment and fun on the water.”
- fred

As Mercury Racing powers into 2006, we’ll look to see new products introduced in Miami and we’ll also see Class One UIM Offshore racing series standardizing on the 1075 engine. Keep an eye on Mercury Racing as it’s just getting into its powerband. If Carl is watching, I’m sure he’s very proud of what Fred and Brunswick have accomplished.

The Race Never Stops!
The entire Extreme Boats Magazine team would like to thank Fred Kiekhaefer, Rick Mackie and the entire Mercury Racing team for taking time from their busy schedules to allow us a peek inside the legacy. See you at the races!!!

Also see our “Mercury Historical Timeline”: Pages 74-75


E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE | Volume 3.2

ExtremeEngineBuilders / Series
mercury racing
(Jim Wynne made a fortune and Charlie Strang never receives a cent for his sterndrive invention and the secret of its true inventor was kept until 1990. Carl never knew.) 1962 - The Mercury 1000. The rst 100-horsepower production outboard is introduced - the “Tower of Power”. To make it look smaller, it was painted phantom black. 1963 - The full line of Mercury engines are painted Phantom Black. That color becomes the symbol of boating and engineering excellence. 1964 - New 370,000-sq.-ft. addition in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin opens. 1965 - The “Wall of Water” silencing system was introduced, cutting engine noise by 50%. 1966 - Thunderbolt CD ignition is introduced - up to 40,000 volts of sure-starting power. Hydraulic power trim is introduced. Better performance and easier operation in all water and boat load conditions. DECADES OF PRODUCT LOGOS 1926 - With a degree in engineering, Carl Kiekhaefer gets his rst job as a draftsman for Nash Motors Body Division. 1927 - Carl is hired as a draftsman by Evinrude but is red three months later for insubordination. 1928 - Carl is hired as a draftsman at Stearns Magnetic, where he spends the next ten yeas. Rises to Chief of Engineering. 1939 – With nancial assistance from his father and uncle, Carl starts the Kiekhaefer Corporation from the ashes of the Cedarburg Manufacturing Company. It had everything he needed to design and build mechanical products. The Cedarburg company came with 300 outboard motors that were rejected by Montgomery Ward, a large catalog retailer. Carl had all these engines in inventory and needed cash. The rst thing that he did to raise capitol was to repair the rejected outboard motors. His initial plan was to make equipment for the dairy business. He was going to make magnetic clutches and separators. The separators were used to pull magnetic material, like bits of barbwire, out of cow feed before the cows ate it. Once Montgomery Ward got the repaired motors and found that they worked, they started to place orders for more outboards for the following year. 1940 - Kiekhaefer develops a rubber water pump that tolerates sand, silt, and vegetation. A one-piece streamline housing that protects driveshaft, waterline, and exhaust from exposure. He names his new line of outboards after the mythical eet-footed messenger of the Roman gods: 1941 - American factories shifted production from commercial to military products. Doing what it could to survive, the tiny company sought out government contracts. In two months Carl developed a portable power chain saw engine to replace the heavy, cumbersome models then in use by the Army. In a test, the saw powered by a Kiekhaefer Aeromarine engine cut through a 24-inch green log in 17 seconds, as opposed to 52 seconds for its nearest competitor. The chain saw contract was awarded to Kiekhaefer. 1943 - During World War II, Kiekhaefer Corporation becomes a mass producer of chain saw engines. They also made ve other engines for the military. In 1943, they shipped over 10,000 engines. 1945 - By the end of World War II the Kiekhaefer Corporation is the largest builder of chain saws in the world. Kiekhaefer also manufactures twocycle engines for drone aircraft, and the company becomes a recognized authority on radio-controlled aircraft. Carl often said the drone engine was his favorite product. Since the Air Force and Navy would shoot them down, they never had any warranty issues. 1946 – The war is over and Kiekhaefer anticipates the boom in recreational boating by purchasing a large two-story barn lled with 90 tons of hay. It would become the workplace of 150 Kiekhaefer employees. 1947 - It’s a banner year at the Kiekhaefer Corporation. Carl’s only son Fred is born and over 55,000 Outboard engines are built. The large dairy barn in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, is converted to outboard manufacturing. It also becomes the home o ce of the Kiekhaefer Corporation. The company had barely opened the barn for production when Carl orders a 25,000 square foot expansion. 1948 - Kiekhaefer innovation continues, as the company develops and manufactures the rst forged aluminum piston. Thunderbolt engines delivered a whopping 40 horsepower. A 40,000 square foot expansion is added to the original barn. A saltwater test site is founded in Sarasota, Florida. 1951 - Kiekhaefer hires Charlie Strang. During that year, Charlie shows Kiekhaefer his idea for a sterndrive that connects to an internal automotive engine. Carl dismisses the idea and they never speak of it again. 1952 - Mercury introduces the Flo-Torq, the world’s rst rubber prop hub to protect the outboard’s drive train against impact damage. 1954 - Mercury introduces the rst permanent magnet, direct-drive, alternator-type, 12-volt generator. Other innovations included sealed, quick-disconnect, remote wiring harness and key switch operation of electric starter and choke. 1955 - To promote his outboard business, Carl Kiekhaefer enters a team in the sport of stock car racing. Driving large but more powerful Chrysler 300s, team Kiekhaefer won the largest collection of stock car racing trophies ever assembled in a single season and stunned the racing community. Among their innovations were the rst dry paper air lter that all automobiles use today. Charlie Strang and Jim Wynne, both Kiekhaefer employees, discuss Strang’s idea for a sterndrive and how the two of them might develop it outside of the Kiekhaefer Company. 1956 - Kiekhaefer’s stock car team again dominated the circuit now known as NASCAR, starting with a new record in the Daytona Beach “Flying Mile” at nearly 140 mph in the new Chrysler 300B. His teams would win a phenomenal 80 percent of all races entered, without a single driver injury, and would never be charged with an infraction of the rules. But because he was such an overwhelming competitor (at one point winning 16 races in a row) race fans turned against the Kiekhaefer team. Deeply hurt, Carl Kiekhaefer withdrew from stock car racing at the end of the season. 1957 - The company leases a 1,400 acre, undeveloped Florida lake - a new testing area away from prying eyes. To keep the test location a secret, Carl Kiekhaefer refers to it as “Lake X” when speaking with outsiders, and the name sticks. 1958 - A standard-production Mark 75 was the rst outboard to exceed 100 miles per hour, achieving a two-way average of 107.821 mph. Quicksilver oil is introduced. It’s the start of the marine industry’s rst comprehensive line of proprietary accessory products, improving dealer service and customer satisfaction. 1959 - Jim Wynne leaves Kiekhaefer and applies for a patent on the Sterndrive in his name alone. Charlie Strang was still working for Kiekhaefer and decided not to leave, giving Jim free reign on his invention. Jim assigns the patent to Volvo. Volvo develops and builds the new sterndrive and premiers it at the 1959 NY Boat Show. 1960 - First anodic alloy trim tab ghts galvanic corrosion and helps counteract engine torque. 1961 - Kiekhaefer was growing quickly and needed to grow even more in order to ful ll the demand for its products worldwide. Carl needed a partner with a similar vision to his and deep enough pockets to ful ll his corporate vision. Kiekhaefer merges with Brunswick, a corporation that specializes in recreational markets. Kiekhaefer becomes the exclusive licensee of the Volvo patent for sterndrives. MerCruiser Sterndrive introduced at Chicago Boat Show, o ering the rst sterndrive unit with over 100 hp. MerCruiser would go on to outsell all other sterndrives combined, eventually capturing 80 percent of the worldwide market. 1967 - MerCathode corrosion protection is introduced. It’s the most advanced corrosion protection available. The rst Mercury 150 E snowmobile is introduced. 1968 - The 125-hp outboard introduced. 1969 - Direct Charge fuel-induction improves performance and increases power. Exclusive XK360 aluminum alloy is introduced. The most corrosion-resistant alloy ever used on a marine engine. In November 1969, Carl Kiekhaefer resigns as president of Kiekhaefer Mercury. 1970 - E. ‘Carl’ Kiekhaefer resigns from Brunswick Corporation. 1971 - Carl reactivates his dormant WWII engine company. Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors is reborn. Kiekhaefer sees an opportunity in the growing snowmobile market and begins to develop new and more powerful engines for these recreational vehicles. Brunswick changes the company name and logo from Kiekhaefer Mercury to Mercury Marine. Logo rst appears on products (outboards and sterndrives) in the ‘73 model year. 1972 - Carl’s ten-year non-compete clause is over, he’s now free to get back into the marine business. Kiekhaefer Aeromarine begins to compete against Mercury on the racecourse. Carl taps Dr. Robert Magoon to pilot Kiekhaefer Aeromarine’s rst entry into the o shore wars. Magoon wins six rst place nishes and is named APBA US National Champion. “After having built a company that has produced over 1.5 billion worth of product with my name on it, I don’t know whether any man is capable of two ventures of this type in a lifetime… It’s always easier, I suppose, to liquidate and buy tax-exempt bonds, but I wouldn’t know what to do with myself since I don’t like fishing or traveling.” - Carl Kiekhaefer 1973 - Kiekhaefer Aeromarine “Champion Maker” engines compete head to head with Mercury and propel Carlo Bonomi to a World Championship. 1974 - Charlie Strang is named President and CEO of OMC. 1976 - Kiekhaefer Aeromarine engines win 59 races while MerCruiser and Mercury outboards win a total of 99 races. Carl Kiekhaefer is personally honored when presented with the Ole Evinrude award for “Immeasurable contributions to the sport of boating.” 1977 - For the rst time since he resigned, Carl is invited to attend an open house at Mercury Marine. It was a moment he’ll always remember. The place was fantastic and many of his old employees were still working there and remembered him fondly. 1978 - Fred leaves the family business and takes a job outside of the marine industry rst, with a medical imaging company, then as a business consultant with Price Waterhouse. 1980 - Carl’s health is deteriorating and the company is losing money. 1983 - Carl Kiekhaefer passes away on October 5th at 77 years of age. “Wherever I go in the future, heaven or hell, I do hope they have an engineering department because I might have some fun being reduced back to a plain old engineer. The simplest and sweetest things in life are complex engineering: it’s the people problems that are responsible for today’s ills. I hope some day I can still get a job as a draftsman or engineer with a boss that can hand me work on a platter – with no other responsibilities except that it works.” - Carl Kiekhaefer 1984 - Fred Kiekhaefer purchases some of the assets of his father’s bankrupt corporation. Fred opens Kiekhaefer Aeromarine, Inc. and picks up where his father left off. 1986 - Fred refocuses the company on its core products, K-Plane trim tabs, Zero Effort controls, trim indicators and propellers. The company begins to show a pro t. 1988 - Kiekhaefer Aeromarine, Inc. introduces a brand new, heavy-duty drive that immediately propels the Gentry Turbo Eagle to a World Championship with Bill Sirois and Don Johnson at the helm. (Mercury sells over 400,000 outboards.) 1990 - Brunswick Corporation acquires Kiekhaefer Aeromarine, Inc. and merges Kiekhaefer Aeromarine with Mercury Performance Products. Fred Kiekhaefer is named President of the business unit. Locations under the Mercury Performance Products banner included, manufacturing headquartered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, R & D facilities in Oshkosh, the former Kiekhaefer Aeromarine facility (Plant 36) in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and the Lake X test facility in St. Cloud, Florida. 1991- The Kiekhaefer drive is renamed the Mercury Racing Six Drive. Fred is named Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Mercury Marine along with his position as President of Mercury Racing. 1992 - Mercury is divided into ve separate business units. The high performance propeller manufacturing team moves into the former Kiekhaefer Aeromarine facility. 1993 - Name changed back to Mercury Hi-Performance. Ground was broken for a 32,000 square foot expansion of Plant 36. 1994 – Mercury Hi-Performance manufacturing and administrative functions move from Oshkosh, Wisconsin into the expanded Plant 36 facility. Begins Lab nishing of Lightning E.T. Propellers for Outboards. 1996 – Mercury Hi-Performance introduces the 502 cu. in. HP500 carbureted sterndrive engine that propelled all APBA Factory o shore racing classes for their inaugural season in 1997. 1997 - The Mercury Pro Max and Mariner Super Magnum 300 outboards are made available from Mercury High Performance. These are the most powerful consumer outboards available! 1998 - The late Carl Kiekhaefer, founder of Mercury Marine, is selected for induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America at the Motorsports Museum in Novi, Michigan. Begins Lab Finishing of Bravo I Propellers. 1999 - All of Mercury Marine gets a new logo. Mercury Racing drops Mariner line of outboards. Changes business name from Mercury Hi-Performance to Mercury Racing. All products get new graphics featuring new Mercury logo. 2000 – OMC Corporations o cially les for bankruptcy. All new HP575 SC engine and Bravo XR drive are sold as a package. 2001 – Mercury Racing introduces the Integrated Transom System (ITS) for Bravo drives. 2002 – The bulletproof, race proven Mercury Racing 525 is born. 2003 – Mercury Racing begins Lab Finishing the Maximus propeller line. 2004 – Going big, the 1075 SCI sterndrive engine package is born. 2005 – Filling in the gaps, the 600 SCI, 850 SCI are born and the SystemView Race Edition monitor is premiered to rave reviews. Lab nishing of the Bravo III XR Drives begins. 2006 – The Mercury story continues; Mercury Racing unveils three amazing new products at the Miami Boat show that once again demonstrate their passion for performance and willingness to take engineering risks.

The story of Elmer ‘Carl’ Kiekhaefer is simply amazing, as he epitomized the image of a big business tycoon during the mid 20th century. He left behind a foundation of greatness that continues to be built upon to this day by his son, Fred, and the rest of the people at Mercury Marine and Mercury Racing. Books such as “Iron Fist” and “The Legend of Mercury” have dedicated almost a thousand pages to chronicle Carl’s lifetime of achievements.
1936 1939 1946 1955 1957 1964


1999 1971 1973 1975 1978

”Mercury – the god of speed”
At the 1940 New York Boat Show, Kiekhaefer accepts orders for more than 16,000 motors, and the marine industry changes forever.


E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE | Volume 3.2

Volume 3.2 | E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE