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ExtremeEngineBuilders / Series

Outerlimits makes some of
mercury racing
PERFOR MANCE 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.

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

While immortals such as the great Vince The odd building with round porthole windows
Lombardi were showing the world how to overlooking Lake Winnebago is where Carl
play football, immortals of industry were Kiekhaefer left his final mark on the marine industry,
showing the world how to make a better the original home of Kiekhaefer Aeromarine
outboard engine. The playing fields may have Motors. This facility is now called Mercury Racing
had different shapes but the competitive spirit and Carl’s son, Fred Kiekhaefer rules over the high
and ferocity for the game is what made Carl performance boating world from the same office
Kiekhaefer and Vince Lombardi contemporaries, that his father used before him.
each driving their team to victory by sheer will After getting a tour around the facility from
and determination. Rick Mackie, Mercury Racing’s Senior Marketing
On a brutally cold Wisconsin morning Manager, it’s apparent that there is a high level
in mid December, Mercury Racing opened of pride in each employee. It shows through in
its doors to EBM and allowed us to bask in the way they talk about the products they design
the glory and heritage of Mercury Racing. and manufacture. As Carl would often say,
F o u n d e r , C a r l K i e k h a e f e r , may no “Nothing less than perfection is acceptable” and
longer walk these hallways and shop floors, they still believe that to this day.
but his booming voice and the leftover scent We went to Mercury Racing’s Fond du Lac
of his cigars still assault the subconscious facility to learn why their engines are so dominant
senses. His personality was so powerful that in the Poker Run and Racing ranks; To find out
many men and women that worked for him why many boaters consider them ‘the best’.
claimed he had been the most domineering What we came away with was a larger story,
factor in their adult lives. a story about an American icon and how it came
His business consumed his life, his to be. On the surface, it’s all about passion for
employees and his dealers. He was a man perfection and the pursuit of speed. But the story
that found his niche in life and went after it here is really about the Kiekhaefer family and
with every fiber in his body, and the bodies their history making crusade upon the boating
of those that worked for him. He was to industry. Fortunately for all of us, it’s also a story
the boating world what Lombardi was to about the enjoyment that their products have
Football, a winner! provided to people around the globe.
mErCUrY raCing
7480 C oUntY r oaD UU
FonD DU L aC , WisConson 54935
920-921-5330 Also see our “Mercury Historical Timeline”: Pages 74-75
WWW. mErCUrYraCing . Com

64 Volume 3.2 | E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE 65
ExtremeEngineBuilders / Series
mercury racing
Mercury Racing

the race course for all to see” mentality has provided terrific Throughout the tour, I’ve heard Rick Mackie use the term The new company was Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors?
advertising platform. Mercury products, especially the racing “Black Art” several times. What does “Black Art” mean? “Yes. He then restarted Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors, freD KIeKhAefer
products, have enjoyed an inherent level of excitement Fred explains, “It’s knowledge that comes from doing. dormant since World War II. I was in and out of that Proudly displaying
because of their racing heritage. Carl understood product It’s knowledge that you can’t put into words, and you depending upon how easy it was to get along with him. the HP 1075 SCi
engine at the 2005
placement long before Hollywood. This type of advertising can’t put into a manual. It’s learned from doing something Ultimately, I went completely off on another career path.
Los Angeles
goes way beyond a good brochure or a public relations firm. Mercury’s way for many years. Dennis Cavanaugh is a When he passed away, I came back and bought the assets Boat Show
It comes from the consumer’s personal experience of either perfect example of a “Black Artist”. Dennis was the head from his estate and salvaged what I could of the business.
using, or watching, someone race a Mercury product. In a of our propeller department. He knew everything about I started a new company, Kiekhaefer Aeromarine, Inc.
“ya get what ya pay for” world, Mercury Racing has products propellers, probably the most knowledgeable person in Basically pushed it in a whole new direction.”
with the highest value in the industry. the world on the subject. We lost him a few years back
Carl’s son Fred Kiekhaefer is now in charge of Mercury’s to a tragic fall in his home. With him went a tremendous Didn’t anyone want to buy the business? “No. There was
high performance empire. Fred grew up with Mercury as his amount of knowledge. It has taken us some time to nothing there worth buying out. It was not a pretty story
brother, he lived through it all, sometimes from a distance recover from loosing him. Now we have Scott Reichow at the end of Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors. It’s kind of
and other times with his own nose against the grindstone. and Ron Steiner who have taken over where Dennis left sad in some ways, but my Dad was doing things that he
Mercury Marine has been in his blood his entire life. Some off. It’s a brain trust.” wanted to do. He made the money in the first place so it
might say that Fred’s blood runs Phantom Black. was his to lose.”
Fred was nice enough to take some time out of his busy What type of boat do you have? Fred smiles and says, “When he died, I looked at it this way, I could leave my
day and answer some questions that he’s probably been “I am between boats. I had a 42 McManus offshore boat consulting career and come back here, have a chance of
asked a thousand times before. and I haven’t replaced it yet. I have a Maxum bow rider making good out of the legacy. If I stayed with consulting,
2004:hp 1075 sCi
CARL KIEKHAEFER WAS A LEGEND IN HIS OWN TIME. that I play around with on the lake.” eventually, I would have to come back and deal with an Mercury Racing
‘39 CeDArBurG MfG His passion for engineering perfection combined with Fred, could you enlighten us about your family history? empty factory because none of my family are business firmly established
Carl forms Kiekhaefer itself in the
Corporation from the his need to always win produced an explosive temper Fred begins, “Carl’s father, my Grandfather, August Did you take over the business after your Dad retired? oriented or capable of running it. I didn’t believe the
‘Extreme‘ engine
ashes of the Cedarburg that became his personal trademark. He was brilliant at Kiekhaefer, owned a large dairy farm. When Carl “No. The story is my father left Mercury after the business would survive. I figured sooner or later I am
builder category
Mfg Co (which had marketing his products to the general public. Carl, always graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Brunswick management attempted to promote going to have to deal with the facility, the property and with the launch
been producing under-rated the horsepower of his motors, giving the August bought a manufacturing plant for Carl as a gift for somebody over his head and kind of kick him everything else. It’s better to do it as a growing concern.” of their 1075hp
outboard engines.) monster. Combining
It had everything Carl
consumer more than they were paying for. In the early graduating from engineering school. The company that upstairs. You didn’t kick my Dad anyplace. He didn’t
performance with
needed to design and days, if it said 10 HP, you could bet it put out at least he bought had made outboard motors for Montgomery go anywhere without kicking and screaming at When you say “new direction” are you talking about the
reliability, it is the
build mechanical 13 HP. Carl’s marketing concept worked, his Mercury Ward and others. The final shipment of 300 outboard the very least.” Kiekhaefer drive? Fred replies, “Well that didn’t come best of all worlds. List
products. outboards would always outrun a competitive model with motors was rejected and all got returned. Carl had all these first. First, we successfully upgraded the quality of the price is $150,000.00
the same horsepower rating. Consumers soon viewed engines in inventory and the first thing that he did to raise When your father sold to Brunswick, what percentage trim tabs. Brought out the zero (including a #6
50,000 MIle test
Mercury engines as “high performance”. To this day, capitol was to repair the defective outboard motors. did he sell? “He sold all of his company to Brunswick. effort controls. Dramatically Drive). I’ll take
Product testing has
two please...
always been important Mercury Racing has followed Carl’s original promise of His initial plan was to make equipment for the dairy When he left, he started up another company. In the expanded the propeller
to Mercury. Pictured delivering more horsepower than advertised on the cowl. business. That’s what Carl intended to do, but he never beginning he didn’t know exactly what he was going lines. Did contract machine
above is a 50,000 mile
endurance test of an
Carl Kiekhaefer always had an affinity with racing, got that far. He was going to make magnetic clutches and to do, but he ended up building snowmobile engines work for other companies
outboard on Lake-X. especially winning races. In 1955, Mercury sponsored separators. The separators, as I understand it, were used because it was two-stroke technology and that was including Mercury High
The test boat is being a three-car team for several years in NASCAR and at the to pull magnetic material, like bits of barbwire, out of cow not included in the non-compete. He dabbled in Performance. Just

Mercury Racing
refueled continuously. Carrera Panamericana rally across Mexico. But boat racing, feed before the cows ate it.” that for a while and then started making parts for whatever we could do
of any kind and size was always his passion. He was never “He needed money so he re-worked the outboard offshore racing stern drives. Making them stronger to make the business
at the wheel, but his factory paid drivers were the best of motors and re-sold them to Montgomery Ward. so they’d live. He started making racing engines. successful. My father
their time and were expected to break (either the boat or Once they got those outboard motors and found that they Did contract machine work. Did a whole bunch of had the luxury of
their bodies) or win. worked, they started to place orders for more outboards things, whatever he found entertaining. He tried to being able to fund the
You’ll always find Mercury Outboards on race boats, you for the following year. That’s how my father got into the get into turbine engines, but couldn’t quite figure business out of his pocket.
can’t say that about the competition. This type of “prove it on outboard motor business.” out how to make that happen.” That wasn’t a luxury I had.


66 E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE | Volume 3.2 Volume 3.2 | E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE 67
ExtremeEngine Builders
mercury racing

ComPanY Mercury Racing [ w w w. m e r c u r y r a c i n g . c o m ]
LoCation Fond Du Lac, Wisconson
YEar EstaBLisHED See Mercury Historical Timeline, pages 74-75
stErnDriVE ProDUCts
525 EFI $59,000 1 Year Includes Bravo One XR drive

600 SCi $64,000 1 Year Includes Bravo One XR drive
850 SCi $127,000 180 Day Includes Dry-Sump Six drive
1075 SCi $150,000 90 Day Includes Dry-Sump Six drive

EnginEs / YEar Tons (i.e. top secret...)
notEs Generations of knowledge, 65+ years of engine building experience
I only bought assets of products that I thought I could outdrive was created. It was actually created by people on
make into something.” Fred continues, “We wound up the Mercury’s payroll who then clandestinely sold the rights
manufacturing again, started making the products, made for the engineering and development to Volvo. If you look What is the one thing that you wish today, in hindsight, you There are people who could have survived if sanctioning
MAIn fACIlItY it profitable and then went on to develop the Kiekhaefer closely, you’ll notice the photo of the first Volvo prototype had a chance to do over again and do differently? “Oh boy. organizations would have been paying more attention
(From left) drive. We took a couple of World Championships with that has a Mercury gearcase. So there was a very real risk of At the time I sold my company, Brunswick wasn’t engaged to the safety capabilities by requiring full capsules, air
This building drive then we were purchased by Brunswick Corporation litigation around that. My father, by the way, never knew in ‘creative acquisitions’ where they would buy a minority supplies, harnesses and Hans devices. Of course you’ve got
was designed by
Carl with round -- the same company that bought my Dad’s company.” any of that while he was alive.” share in somebody. They bought all or nothing -- so I sold the marine environment, with a perpetual debate between
“porthole style” all of it. In recent years, Mercury and Brunswick have done closed and open helmets and I don’t know who wins that
windows like on How does Mercury Racing fit into the larger Brunswick org? Who is your biggest competitor these days now that OMC transactions where they bought a part of a company. one. The moves that the high-end classes have made
a ship. Inside the “We are a division of Mercury Marine, which is a wholly is out of the picture? “On the outboard side you could Quite frankly, I sold my company because I was concerned toward oxygen systems and full restraint harnesses have
shop floor area for
two cycle products. owned division of Brunswick. The corporate entity name all the players, but the big ones are Yamaha, Honda. for continued employment of my people and surviving in an all been good things, but I would love to see impregnable
A craftsman is Brunswick, that’s our parent. We’re a division of We’re by far, the largest in the marketplace. Sterndrives economic downturn with a highly leveraged company. casings around the pilots of these things. I am pleased with
building a number another division - Mercury.” we’re substantially number one. Beyond Volvo, no real I spent a lot of money to acquire these assets; we grew very the progress we have made in the last decade, but it needs
six drive may spend head-to-head competitors of any strength.” fast; so, everything I had went back into working capital. to extend into all racing classes.”
up to an hour per
set of gears to get
Tell me a little about your father’s life long battle with OMC. More leverage, more bank debt, because we were growing
them to mesh just “Look at it like a wrestling match. There are people that Along the way, what was your Edsel? the company quickly. When I got in it, it was a down spot Everyone has been very tight lipped about new products,
right so there is no get cheered for it, and there’s people that get booed at. “I got burned in the late 80’s by attempting in the cycle, so I rode the wave up.” would you like to share any new thoughts on where
binding throughout What’s the fun if there’s no enemy to vanquish?” to bring out an integrated engine silencing “I would have done better financially had I sold 40% you’re going with the Company? “I’ll see you in Miami.
an entire rotation...
system. I had a product that was very elegant or 50% of the company and enjoyed the increase of the It’s a nice place in February. Bring your camera, we’ll go
as they say, it’s a
“Black Art”. What did Mercury do right that they did wrong? in it’s execution but it was just a total piece of business value that came from growing it so substantially. for a ride.” I’ll take you up on that offer Fred!
“My father used to really enjoy battling OMC. At sales garbage. It didn’t last very long. There were just It’s done very very well. I would have loved to have found
meetings, he’d hang an Evinrude over a bonfire and get things we didn’t understand about the chemistry stress test a way to not have had to sell the company, but having sold SHOP FLOOR TOUR: Fred has surrounded himself with an
the dealers all worked up watching it burn. A little tacky, and the acceleration of deterioration with heat. This 557 Cubic it, there’s not a better partner I could have joined. army of high-octane talent like Jim Goerlitz, Manager of
inch block is
in my opinion. Mercury paid attention to their business a It was our first attempt at the muffler and The synergy that we were able to achieve with the Race Support Marketing. Jim gave us some insight into
about to get
little more. I think we had more critical mass. I think on I think we bought back every thing we sold. dressed up in capable people I found inside Mercury’s organization, Mercury’s racing efforts and the support that they provide
average our products were better, certainly more exciting. Of course that was a time when the company 850 SCi trim and plus the entrepreneurial spirit that I brought to it, the to the racers. Jim, what Supercats were running your motors
They had some good products, and some excellent brands. was still very highly leveraged and we really sent to the dyno combination of the two was remarkable. We went places this year? “Currently Mercury supplies Supercat motors to
for some torture
They had some good distribution; we just had a little couldn’t afford a lot of mistakes.” that I could have not have gone on my own. I took the CRC, WHM and Bacardi Silver.”
better distribution and were a little quicker on the uptake business, with the help of a lot of good people, to places that Please explain the costs involved with running a Supercat
of developing trends like engine-boat packaging and So you were buying back your reputation? Mercury Racing would not have gone on it’s own. It’s been program. Jim explains, “Racer price is $46,000 a piece,
direct-to-OEM channel relationships.” “That’s right. It also reinforced an old lesson about a lot of fun. I will tell you, the talent, capability, depth of then we rebuild them after every race or two, depending
the value of serious validation. Product validation organization, and access to expertise... it was a great learning upon the program they are running. A minor rebuild is
Did it help that Mercury enjoyed a patent on the outdrive in the marine environment is a duty we have to curve and we’ve been able to get an awful lot done.” $7,000 per engine, a major rebuild is $10,000 per engine
for seventeen years? “Well, that is a non-trivial question. perform to be a world-class manufacturer. A lot and if they win, we give a free rebuild for both motors.
That’s actually a very complicated issue.” of the reason that we don’t have more competitors If you could just wave your magic wand and change one Mike Defrees did ok this year, CRC won a lot of races and got
is because other people don’t validate the way we thing about boat racing what would you want to see? a lot of free rebuilds. I think he even made some money with
I noticed when the OMC Cobra came out and Yamaha validate. Then they end up unable to figure out “Anytime I look at racing, I think about the safety of the the winnings from OSS.”
came out, I figured the patent rights had expired. why their stuff doesn’t stay together. We’ve had people participating. I would like to have had total capsules Jim continues, “We also offer a racer contingency program
“Yes, the patent rights indeed expired at the time you people come in -- trying to become serious players much earlier. We’re getting very, very close to that now, for teams that run our 525 racing engines. A 525 attached to
saw that happen. But Volvo held the patent and it was in the performance market. It’s happened twice but we’ve lost too many good people along the way -- Six drives gets $1,500 per race, the engine with Bravo’s earns
licensed by Brunswick. That was done because Volvo was since I’ve been in my role at Mercury Racing and Dick Fullum and Mike Poppa, Mark Lavin, and Tom Gentry, $1,000 per race. It doesn’t matter if they win or loose, just
very eager to not have the truth come out about how the both times they withdrew.” we just loose too many good people through accidents. race our equipment and if you run a Super Vee with Six drives,


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you can get up to $24,000 back in cold hard cash at the end of We got sidetracked along the way, but the original
shop tour the season if you run all eight races.” reason we came to Mercury Racing was to learn the
(From left) What you get when you buy a Mercury Racing product answer to this one question, What makes Mercury
Scott Reichow
and Ron Steiner is very personal attention. There’s no separate line for race Racing engines so exceptional? That answer came
showing the engines versus pleasure engines. When a 525 comes off the from Fred himself:
difference between dyno, they don’t know who the end customer will be or how
how a propeller
enters the building
it will be used. It could go into a race boat or recreational “We have a relentless pursuit of
in the form of a sport boat. Everything here is made to racing specs. consistency through repetition.
Hand assembled is what makes this place tick. As an
raw casting and
how the finished example, there’s one guy that assembles the dry-sump Six
We test it until it won’t break even
product looks drives. He spends hours assembling each set of gears inside the
when pushed far beyond its anticipated
when it leaves
housing. This is where black art comes in, getting multiple sets stress levels. We refine each part so they
on it’s way to a
customer. Every of matched gears to mate in such a way that there’s no binding work in harmony with the rest of the
engine spends at point throughout the rotation of all gears in a finished unit. assembly. When we build a new product
least one hour on
the dyno before it
The 525’s and 600’s are built on the “Horsepower or engine, we first look for results in
Highway”. Engines move along a rail, paced by a single
leaves the factory. the dyno, then it’s time to start testing
mechanic assigned to that engine. He moves it along to
Fred Kiekhaefer
and Rick Mackie of each station that has bins for the parts needed to continue
at X-Site. We race and we punish our
Mercury Racing in the build. However, the Super Cat race engines, 850SCi’s equipment and examine the results.
front of quartet of
and 1075SCi’s are built in a separate area and each engine We are perfectionists and no engine has
HP 1075s engines.
has a dedicated build team, two men per engine. The guys ever left this factory without running
that build them are the same guys you see at all the races, on the dyno for at least an hour. Our
jumping into the engine compartment of each Mercury goal is zero failure of any component
powered Super Cat just prior to the race. Now that’s what
you call customer support!
under the harshest of conditions. We
Another Mercury Racing product is a complete line of hope that our products have provided
propellers. There must have been a thousand raw castings our customers with many years of
of the five-blade cleaver props for the dry-sump Six drive enjoyment and fun on the water.”
in bins awaiting their turn against the grinder. Hours and - fred kiekhaefer

hours go into turning these raw castings into beautifully As Mercury Racing powers into 2006, we’ll look to see
polished pieces of stainless steel. This is the area where new products introduced in Miami and we’ll also see Class
they practice their black magic. With sparks flying, One UIM Offshore racing series standardizing on the 1075
the technicians know just where to grind a little extra when engine. Keep an eye on Mercury Racing as it’s just getting
lab finishing a propeller for a specific application. into its powerband. If Carl is watching, I’m sure he’s very
Scott Reichow, the manager of Custom Propellers tells proud of what Fred and Brunswick have accomplished.
us about how propellers have had to evolve to meet the

Zero Effort
needs of stepped hulls. “Steps create about an inch to an The Race Never Stops!
inch and a half of foam on the bottom of the boat. Combine
are still built by the high X dimension along with the steps and the old tried
The entire Extreme Boats Magazine team would like to
hand and remain the and true four blade had too much slip. So we made the five
thank Fred Kiekhaefer, Rick Mackie and the entire Mercury
industry standard blade Maximus. It has a little more diameter, an extra blade Racing team for taking time from their busy schedules to
in racing quadrant and we played with the blade geometry a bit, it really hooks
controls. allow us a peek inside the legacy. See you at the races!!!
up to the water way better than the four blade.”

Also see our “Mercury Historical Timeline”: Pages 74-75
70 E xtreme B oats M agazine | Volume 3.2
ExtremeEngineBuilders / Series
mercury racing
(Jim Wynne made a fortune and Charlie 1973 - Kiekhaefer Aeromarine “Champion 1991- The Kiekhaefer drive is renamed the
Strang never receives a cent for his Maker” engines compete head to head Mercury Racing Six Drive. Fred is named
sterndrive invention and the secret of its with Mercury and propel Carlo Bonomi Vice President of Sales and Marketing for
true inventor was kept until 1990. Carl to a World Championship. Mercury Marine along with his position
never knew.) as President of Mercury Racing.

1974 - Charlie Strang is named President

The story of Elmer ‘Carl’ Kiekhaefer is simply amazing, as he epitomized the image of a big business tycoon
1962 - The Mercury 1000. The first
100-horsepower production outboard
is introduced - the “Tower of Power”.
To make it look smaller, it was painted
and CEO of OMC.

1976 - Kiekhaefer Aeromarine engines win
59 races while MerCruiser and Mercury
1992 - Mercury is divided into five
separate business units. The high
performance propeller manufacturing
team moves into the former Kiekhaefer
during the mid 20th century. He left behind a foundation of greatness that continues to be built upon to this day
phantom black. outboards win a total of 99 races. Aeromarine facility.
by his son, Fred, and the rest of the people at Mercury Marine and Mercury Racing. Books such as “Iron Fist” and 1963 - The full line of Mercury engines Carl Kiekhaefer is personally honored 1993 - Name changed back to Mercury
“The Legend of Mercury” have dedicated almost a thousand pages to chronicle Carl’s lifetime of achievements. are painted Phantom Black. That color when presented with the Ole Evinrude Hi-Performance. Ground was broken
becomes the symbol of boating and award for “Immeasurable contributions for a 32,000 square foot expansion
1936 1939 1946 1955 1957 1964 engineering excellence.

1964 - New 370,000-sq.-ft. addition in
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin opens.
to the sport of boating.”

1977 - For the first time since he
resigned, Carl is invited to attend an
of Plant 36.

1994 – Mercury Hi-Performance
manufacturing and administrative
open house at Mercury Marine. It was functions move from Oshkosh, Wisconsin
1965 - The “Wall of Water” silencing a moment he’ll always remember. The into the expanded Plant 36 facility.
system was introduced, cutting engine place was fantastic and many of his old Begins Lab finishing of Lightning E.T.
1999 noise by 50%. employees were still working there and Propellers for Outboards.
remembered him fondly.

1971 1973 1975 1978
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
1978 - Fred leaves the family business
and takes a job outside of the marine
industry first, with a medical imaging
1996 – Mercury Hi-Performance
introduces the 502 cu. in. HP500
carbureted sterndrive engine that
propelled all APBA Factory offshore
water and boat load conditions. company, then as a business consultant racing classes for their inaugural
DECADES OF PRODUCT LOGOS with Price Waterhouse. season in 1997.
1967 - MerCathode corrosion protection
1926 - With a degree in engineering, Carl 1941 - American factories shifted a whopping 40 horsepower. A 40,000 point winning 16 races in a row) race fans is introduced. It’s the most advanced 1980 - Carl’s health is deteriorating and 1997 - The Mercury Pro Max and Mariner
Kiekhaefer gets his first job as a draftsman production from commercial to military square foot expansion is added to the turned against the Kiekhaefer team. Deeply corrosion protection available. The first the company is losing money. Super Magnum 300 outboards are made

for Nash Motors Body Division. products. Doing what it could to survive, original barn. A saltwater test site is hurt, Carl Kiekhaefer withdrew from stock Mercury 150 E snowmobile is introduced. available from Mercury High Performance.
the tiny company sought out government founded in Sarasota, Florida. car racing at the end of the season. 1983 - Carl Kiekhaefer passes away on These are the most powerful consumer
1927 - Carl is hired as a draftsman by contracts. In two months Carl developed 1968 - The 125-hp outboard introduced. October 5th at 77 years of age. outboards available!
Evinrude but is fired three months later for a portable power chain saw engine to 1951 - Kiekhaefer hires Charlie Strang. 1957 - The company leases a 1,400 acre,
insubordination. replace the heavy, cumbersome models During that year, Charlie shows undeveloped Florida lake - a new testing 1969 - Direct Charge fuel-induction

“Wherever I go in the future, heaven or 1998 - The late Carl Kiekhaefer, founder
then in use by the Army. In a test, the saw Kiekhaefer his idea for a sterndrive that area away from prying eyes. To keep the improves performance and increases hell, I do hope they have an engineering of Mercury Marine, is selected for
1928 - Carl is hired as a draftsman at Stearns powered by a Kiekhaefer Aeromarine connects to an internal automotive test location a secret, Carl Kiekhaefer power. Exclusive XK360 aluminum department because I might have some induction into the Motorsports Hall
Magnetic, where he spends the next ten engine cut through a 24-inch green log engine. Carl dismisses the idea and they refers to it as “Lake X” when speaking alloy is introduced. The most fun being reduced back to a plain old of Fame of America at the Motorsports
yeas. Rises to Chief of Engineering. in 17 seconds, as opposed to 52 seconds never speak of it again. with outsiders, and the name sticks. corrosion-resistant alloy ever used engineer. The simplest and sweetest Museum in Novi, Michigan. Begins Lab

for its nearest competitor. The chain saw on a marine engine. things in life are complex engineering: it’s Finishing of Bravo I Propellers.
1939 – With financial assistance from contract was awarded to Kiekhaefer. 1952 - Mercury introduces the Flo-Torq, 1958 - A standard-production Mark 75 the people problems that are responsible
his father and uncle, Carl starts the 1943 - During World War II, Kiekhaefer the world’s first rubber prop hub to was the first outboard to exceed 100 miles In November 1969, Carl Kiekhaefer resigns for today’s ills. I hope some day I can still 1999 - All of Mercury Marine gets a new
Kiekhaefer Corporation from the ashes of Corporation becomes a mass producer of protect the outboard’s drive train against per hour, achieving a two-way average of as president of Kiekhaefer Mercury. get a job as a draftsman or engineer with logo. Mercury Racing drops Mariner line
the Cedarburg Manufacturing Company. chain saw engines. They also made five impact damage. 107.821 mph. Quicksilver oil is introduced. a boss that can hand me work on a platter of outboards. Changes business name
It had everything he needed to design and
build mechanical products.

The Cedarburg company came with 300
other engines for the military. In 1943,
they shipped over 10,000 engines.

1945 - By the end of World War II the
1954 - Mercury introduces the first
permanent magnet, direct-drive,
alternator-type, 12-volt generator.
It’s the start of the marine industry’s
first comprehensive line of proprietary
accessory products, improving dealer
service and customer satisfaction.
1970 - E. ‘Carl’ Kiekhaefer resigns from
Brunswick Corporation.

1971 - Carl reactivates his dormant WWII
– with no other responsibilities except
that it works.” - Carl Kiekhaefer

1984 - Fred Kiekhaefer purchases some
from Mercury Hi-Performance to Mercury
Racing. All products get new graphics
featuring new Mercury logo. EXTREME BOA
outboard motors that were rejected by Kiekhaefer Corporation is the largest Other innovations included sealed, engine company. Kiekhaefer Aeromarine of the assets of his father’s bankrupt 2000 – OMC Corporations officially files
Montgomery Ward, a large catalog retailer. builder of chain saws in the world. quick-disconnect, remote wiring 1959 - Jim Wynne leaves Kiekhaefer and Motors is reborn. Kiekhaefer sees an corporation. Fred opens Kiekhaefer for bankruptcy.
Carl had all these engines in inventory and Kiekhaefer also manufactures two- harness and key switch operation of applies for a patent on the Sterndrive opportunity in the growing snowmobile Aeromarine, Inc. and picks up where his
needed cash. The first thing that he did cycle engines for drone aircraft, and the electric starter and choke. in his name alone. Charlie Strang was market and begins to develop new father left off. All new HP575 SC engine and Bravo XR
to raise capitol was to repair the rejected company becomes a recognized authority still working for Kiekhaefer and decided and more powerful engines for these drive are sold as a package.
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
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
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
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
recreational vehicles.

Brunswick changes the company name
and logo from Kiekhaefer Mercury to
1986 - Fred refocuses the company on
its core products, K-Plane trim tabs,
Zero Effort controls, trim indicators
and propellers. The company begins
2001 – Mercury Racing introduces the
Integrated Transom System (ITS)
for Bravo drives.
magnetic material, like bits of barbwire, out any warranty issues. Kiekhaefer won the largest collection of Boat Show. Mercury Marine. Logo first appears on to show a profit.
of cow feed before the cows ate it. stock car racing trophies ever assembled products (outboards and sterndrives) 2002 – The bulletproof, race proven
1946 – The war is over and Kiekhaefer in a single season and stunned the racing 1960 - First anodic alloy trim tab fights in the ‘73 model year. 1988 - Kiekhaefer Aeromarine, Inc. Mercury Racing 525 is born.
Once Montgomery Ward got the repaired anticipates the boom in recreational boating community. Among their innovations galvanic corrosion and helps counteract introduces a brand new, heavy-duty
motors and found that they worked, by purchasing a large two-story barn filled were the first dry paper air filter that all engine torque. 1972 - Carl’s ten-year non-compete clause drive that immediately propels 2003 – Mercury Racing begins Lab

they started to place orders for more with 90 tons of hay. It would become the automobiles use today. is over, he’s now free to get back into the the Gentry Turbo Eagle to a World Finishing the Maximus propeller line.
outboards for the following year. workplace of 150 Kiekhaefer employees. 1961 - Kiekhaefer was growing quickly marine business. Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Championship with Bill Sirois and Don
Charlie Strang and Jim Wynne, both and needed to grow even more in order begins to compete against Mercury on the Johnson at the helm. 2004 – Going big, the 1075 SCI sterndrive
1940 - Kiekhaefer develops a rubber 1947 - It’s a banner year at the Kiekhaefer Kiekhaefer employees, discuss Strang’s to fulfill the demand for its products racecourse. Carl taps Dr. Robert Magoon engine package is born.
water pump that tolerates sand, silt, Corporation. Carl’s only son Fred is born idea for a sterndrive and how the two worldwide. Carl needed a partner with to pilot Kiekhaefer Aeromarine’s first (Mercury sells over 400,000 outboards.)
and vegetation. A one-piece streamline
housing that protects driveshaft,
waterline, and exhaust from exposure.
He names his new line of outboards after
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
of them might develop it outside of the
Kiekhaefer Company.

1956 - Kiekhaefer’s stock car team again
a similar vision to his and deep enough
pockets to fulfill his corporate vision.
Kiekhaefer merges with Brunswick,
a corporation that specializes in
entry into the offshore wars. Magoon wins
six first place finishes and is named APBA
US National Champion.
1990 - Brunswick Corporation acquires
Kiekhaefer Aeromarine, Inc. and merges
Kiekhaefer Aeromarine with Mercury
2005 – Filling in the gaps, the 600 SCI,
850 SCI are born and the SystemView
Race Edition monitor is premiered to rave
reviews. Lab finishing of the Bravo III XR
the mythical fleet-footed messenger of office of the Kiekhaefer Corporation. The dominated the circuit now known as recreational markets. Kiekhaefer “After having built a company that Performance Products. Fred Kiekhaefer Drives begins.
the Roman gods: company had barely opened the barn for NASCAR, starting with a new record in the becomes the exclusive licensee of the has produced over 1.5 billion worth of is named President of the business unit.
production when Carl orders a 25,000 Daytona Beach “Flying Mile” at nearly 140 Volvo patent for sterndrives. MerCruiser product with my name on it, I don’t Locations under the Mercury Performance 2006 – The Mercury story continues;
”Mercury – the god of speed” square foot expansion. mph in the new Chrysler 300B. His teams Sterndrive introduced at Chicago Boat know whether any man is capable of two Products banner included, manufacturing Mercury Racing unveils three amazing
would win a phenomenal 80 percent of Show, offering the first sterndrive unit ventures of this type in a lifetime… It’s headquartered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, new products at the Miami Boat show that
At the 1940 New York Boat Show,
Kiekhaefer accepts orders for more than
16,000 motors, and the marine industry
changes forever.
1948 - Kiekhaefer innovation continues,
as the company develops and
manufactures the first forged aluminum
piston. Thunderbolt engines delivered
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
with over 100 hp. MerCruiser would
go on to outsell all other sterndrives
combined, eventually capturing 80
percent of the worldwide market.
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
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.
once again demonstrate their passion
for performance and willingness to take
engineering risks. EXTREME BOA
72 E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE | Volume 3.2 EXTREME 73BOA
Volume 3.2 | E xtrEmE B oats m agazinE