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Share your Mercury Racing Anniversary story!

Team Racing
Team Racing

The team at Mercury Racing is excited to celebrate our golden 50th Anniversary. For 50 years, it has been our passion to go beyond bold and into the realm of extraordinary. 

But this anniversary story isn't just about us. As it goes with any great milestone - we didn't get here alone.

It's YOUR story that matters the most during this anniversary. It is our customers ... the ones who push the limits, seek the impossible and simply want to ride wide open because they can. What was your first boat? First engine? First race? First poker run? What is your most unforgettable moment?

What's your Mercury Racing story? Share it with us here. Tell us your tale. Send us your pics. Be a part of this enduring community of speed enthusiasts. We want to hear from you!



Official Racing Partner

My first Mercury was in 1974 I had a tiny two stroke side mounted on a modified Canoe my dad and I made a bracket for. I think it was a 2+ hp. Then in 1976 we went to the Miami show and I saw the excitement over the unveiling of the brand new v-6 2.4. I was hooked.. My father put the new v-6s on our modified for diving RABCO.. In high school I had a couple of go fast boats with 2.0 and 2.4 liter power from the 150 to the Mercury Racing 245. I was Following all of the boat racing events I could, mostly offshore. I was reading every magazine available, I was studying boat designs and everything that could be wrapped around a Mercury Racing product. I so wanted to be a part of it one way or another my dream was to have a full time ride as a throttle man. I was bleeding black before I was a teen.. 

Licensed as a captain in 86' then served in the Coast Guard I worked for a good number of folks that needed captains.. I ran a bunch of different product.. Always wished they were Mercury. I had always dabled in race boats that were mine and others. set ups and teaching folks how to drive their go fast rigs.. My career as a professional fishing guide in Key West I was accepted on to the Mercury Pro Team in 1994 it was an honor I took / take very seriously. I knew I was on the winning team and I wanted to do my part to make sure we kept winning. In 1999 Tony Esposito brought me up to Mercury Racing for test and evaluation of a new outboard product they were working on.. It was then I met Fred Keikhaefer at an event in Miami (and that is a whole story)... This was all when Mercury Racing was making a go of it to be a part of the fishing / pleasure boat world and produce High Performance outboards for the consumer to see if that was a market..

We used boats just like mine, starting with the optimax platforms of the 200xs. Then I worked with the 2.5xs, 250xs, and the 300xs programs on my flats skiffs and my center consoles, brands such as Lake and Bay, Dorado, Boston Whaler, Midnight Express, Pro Line, Dakota, Donzi, Invincibl, Cigarette, and Yellowfin Yachts.  All the while running a 280 ROS on my Allison SS.

Working with Mercury and Mercury Racing I had an opportunity to see first hand how the high performance engines used for the grueling racing and fishing circuit would prove components and build techniques then to pass them to all the Mercury brand consumers to improve the quality across the board. As the four stroke product was taking the industry over my next step was working with Mercury on the Verado program with test and eval. Then I was called back to Mercury Racing for the 350 SCI L6 on one of my Yellowfin center consoles. As time progressed the (what I call it) "R" factor showed up identifying the next level in performance from Mercury To Mercury Racing for consumers. Starting with the 400r L6 on my Yellowfins 36 and 24s. it was during this time we were really pounding home the fact Mercury Racing and Mercury were the best solution for marine outboard propulsion with full factory backed warranties and amazing reliability in a performance product. It was then I knew Mercury Racing was winning even more as **bleep** near every new outboard powered muti engine boat was dressed in black. (well at least inside the cowling).

The latest  projects have been awe inspiring for me. Honestly I really never thought it would get this far - ever. People frequently asked me how big will outboards get.. I always shrugged my shoulders and said "How much can the boats handle and what will people buy"..?? "Thats how big they will get"..

A side note to all of the motor talk is application. I have noticed that Mercury Racing in coordination with Mercury Marine is so dedicated to the applications of the product. Propellers for example. Not only making the power but also the ability to effectively - efficiently apply it to the water. As long as I can remember there has been a whole shop and professionals dedicated to them. It used to be called the "Lab". Now it is Mercury Racing Propellers. I always looked at this shop as a group of mad scientists that through trial and error have "re-invented the wheel". I met one of the prop legends once and will never forget it (story for another time). his name was Dennis Cavenaugh (hope I spelled that right) I am pretty sure he knew how to bend water.  The fellas that have followed have kept the fire burning to learn more about how to move water better. It's like its own culture there at Mercury Racing. 

This last phase of my little story here has been pretty incredible. I coined the phrase.. "The folks at Mercury Racing are the Pioneers of Outboard Propulsion".  Mercury Racing adopted the v-8 and v-10 from Mercury and made them purpose built. These last few years I have had the opportunity to real life sample the 300r natural, 450r supercharged and now the 400r v-10 natural on my boats. On top of all that they even made a little 15" 60r motor for me to put on my technical flats fishing skiff, which honestly I am in love with... 

So, thats a quick view into my little piece of Mercury Racings 50 years. I am humbled and honored to be a part of that history in my little way. The folks I have met at Mercury Racing are some of the best people I know and are so passionate about the mission of putting water behind us. Its just been an incredible journey for me and my career as a captain, teacher, boater and tester. With what I am privy to I am not sure where it will stop, if ever - in response to that.. I think we are going to need bigger boats.

I cant wait to see what happens next!!!! Happy 50th Mercury Racing. 

Guest Contributor



I am grateful for my new Mercury Racing 600SCi that we put in my 21-year old boat at the beginning of the year. Grateful that I finally have a reliable, powerful engine package that has allowed me to enjoy boating again.

After years and years of chasing the almighty "horsepower" thirst by way of custom engines that promised way more than they delivered, I finally came to my senses and went the route that the majority of happy, satisfied performance boaters have gone. I went Mercury Racing-power. 

I must have a high tolerance for frustration and grief, because it only took two decades to come back to where I started. When we first built my 2002 LaveyCraft 2750 NuEra vee bottom, it was with a MerCruiser 496HO engine... and it was great! It was love at first launch and that combination never let me down. Except for when other boats with more power would pass me on the water like I was standing still. Thus began my elusive quest for more power. Screenshot 2023-06-09 at 11.11.49 AM.png

Back then, the Teague Custom Marine supercharged 800 was my holy grail. The bling on that package was undeniable and even the pictures on their ads would have me daydreaming for one daily. But my budget was limited at that time, so I went with "other" custom builders. Let's just say that I've made far better decisions since then. 

Of course there were times when the boating trips would be enjoyable but they were inevitably short-lived, and frustrations soon emerged. 

Last year, after yet another catastrophic engine implosion, I had had enough and decided conclusively that reliability was far more valuable to me than the couple more mph I had previously yearned for. So, after consulting with several knowledgable people, I bought the Mercury Racing 600SCi. Engine-building guru and dear friend, Bob Teague of Teague Custom Marine had offered to install it for me and so my road to "pleasure boating" was finally about to be repaved. 

Screenshot 2023-06-09 at 11.12.34 AM.png

The project was completed around Christmastime 2022. So, immediately after the holidays were over, we went to Lake Havasu, AZ to run my brand-new engine. From first startup, I could tell that this was going to be a different experience for me. The rumble of the sterndrive engine evoked goosebumps immediately. Essentially being down almost half the horsepower I previously had at 1100hp, the difference in torque and midrange power was hardly noticeable. the boat ran great and all areas of its performance had improved. But the comfort, confidence and peace that I felt was immeasurable. And priceless. (see previous blog)

So THANK YOU, Mercury Racing for putting the "pleasure" back into my pleasure boating again. And congratulations on 50 Years of Excellence and Innovation! #wideopen


Guest Contributor

My Time with Mercury Racing

Fred Kiekhaefer




My relationship goes back a long way. I came along in 1947 - 8 years after my father started Mercury. As soon as I was old enough, I worked at Lake X (summers during high school). There, I learned to rig and drive race boats. I hung around with boat racing greats like Odell Lewis, Dave Craig, John Bakos, John Steinbeck and Bill Sirois (to name a few). In 1968, After years of pleading with my dad, I finally raced with Bill Sirois. We won the Hennessy Cup, Around Long Island Race. Racing again with Bill, we finished second behind Odell in the Gateway Marathon from West Palm to Freeport and back. I was hooked, but assigned to Mercury Engineering, where it was safer. In 1969, my dad had a fight with Brunswick’s chairman and quit. (My Mercury door closed, too.)


After engineering graduate school (UW Madison), I worked for my dad at Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Motors (KAM) designing snowmobile engines and offshore racing engine components. When our snowmobile engine customer quit the snow business, I went to Northwestern’s business school. While on another career path in business consulting, my dad passed away in 1983.


I purchased the assets of KAM and kept his business alive. We made gearcases for Mercury Racing and Outboard Marine as well as our own line of marine accessories (K-Planes, propellers, zero effort controls) and racing components (gears, shafts gearcases). In 1988, we introduced “Sterndrives by Kiekhaefer” which Don Johnson and Bill Sirois drove to win the Superboat World Cup Championship. In 1989, Peter Markey won the same event with our drives.




In early 1990, Brunswick chairman, Jack Reichert, dispatched some strategy guys to see if I would sell my company and run Mercury Performance Products. After seven years of KAM growth and a reasonable offer, I agreed to sell. While we were negotiating, David Jones became President of Mercury which he renamed Brunswick Marine. Reichert said, “You can’t change the name!” By then the Aeromarine sale was complete. I reported to David, aka “Captain Chaos.” With Reichert’s permission, I changed the name from David’s “Brunswick Performance Products” to Mercury Racing. “What customers want on their shirts.” Our drives won again in 1990, but were called Mercury Racing #6 drives (next in sequence from the problem plagued #5’s).


About the same time as I rejoined Mercury, Brunswick restructured into “Focused Business Units” and Racing was one of them. Racing had been in a public relations and marketing role for “Mother Mercury.” As a focused business, with profit and loss visibility, its losses stood out. We had no choice but to become less generous with sponsorships and give-aways. We had to be a valuable contributor to Brunswick in order to exist.


That was a culture shock to Racing. A transformation was required. Some couldn’t cut it; others rallied with contributions. To some chiding, I introduced a green flag as our symbol of commitment. In motorsports, the green flag says “GO” and I wanted everyone at Racing to “go as fast as you can” toward our agreed goals, while staying within the limits of their capabilities, so as to avoid a crash. The metaphor seemed to resonate. Racing turned the corner through efficiency, new products, improved quality and a fully engaged team.




Racing expanded the former Aeromarine plant near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and consolidated Oshkosh operations out of its leased facility. We introduced new direct injected 2-stroke outboards. We introduced a line of supercharged big blocks. We added digital Zero Effort controls. Racing developed diesel 2-strokes for the government. We made a 350 Verado 4-stroke. When the Stillwater facility was closed, Racing geared up to make the lower volume MerCruiser engines. In perhaps our boldest advancement during my tenure, Racing engineers created the quad cam, four-valve V8 sterndrive engine platform (QC4v). It had so much power and torque, we had to quickly develop the M8 drive to put the power in the water! It pulled a few boat companies through the economic bust of 2008 because people wanted new boats with QC4v’s.


I’m very proud of the growth of Mercury Racing and its team of outstanding contributors. I’m also proud that “this looser” is now one of the best earning businesses in the Brunswick portfolio. I retired in 2012 after 22 fantastic years at the helm. Mercury Racing is in good hands for continued exceptionalism. Though The Race Never Stops, you’re encouraged to go Wide Open. Happy 50th Mercury Racing (though it’s closer to 75th)!


Your loyal customer and biggest fan,

Fred Kiekhaefer



Fred, thank you for sharing your long history with Mercury Racing ... as it's known today.  As someone who has only been a part of this organization for five years, I always love to hear about its storied, complex and exciting past. I don't think I am alone in believing that the history of Mercury Racing truly inspires the next generation. It has been many things to many people, but what I have learned in my five years is everyone who has been or still is a part of this organization shares the passion for excellence and a commitment to what "winning" means on so many levels. We hope to continue the legacy of excellence and ensure that the Race Never Stops.

Racing is a great organization. I am proud that it continues to excel. Enjoy your career with the best in the business!

Guest Contributor

Following Fred Kiekhaefer's history is like following Rembrandt armed with an art pad and crayons, but here goes....

Like Fred I was born in 1947, so my memory and experiences parallel his time frame. My heroes were the very folks that Fred mentioned above, John Bakos, Odell Lewis, and of course Bill Sirois all of whom worked for Mercury and pioneered the racing "Team" concept. My first Mercury was a used 1951 Mercury "!0 Hurricane, which I raced for a few years in outlaw events. when I was 17, I teamed with a friend, and we obtained a 15' Powercat race hull with two Mercury 100 hp "1000's" and prepared it for the Hudson River Marathon in 1964. (While the photo says "winner" we actually came in 5th out of about 25 boats in class and 125 total entries.)242005998_10226350330521604_7853862777473252943_n.jpg

A year later I had found a job at a Mercury Glastron Dealership, K&K Outboard, and spent most of my earnings on a 16' Factory prepared Glastron with another set of Mercury 1000's and raced it and a succession of other hulls as often as possible.


I have dreamed, slept, and worshipped at the altar of boat racing for oh these many years since. My racing career brought me to most of the OPC venues in the US and Canada. One fateful event occurred at the Miami Marine Stadium and the 9 hour Orange Bowl Regatta held there in 1966, where I first met Fred's Dad, Carl, during a loud "disagreement" (I was 18 and very full of myself) ...which (to shut me up) culminated with him giving me a pair of Mercury 1100's (110 hp Outboards, not the monster motors of today) to replace a pair I had that had been damaged by a change made to them by Mercury personnel. I have bled "Mercury Black" ever since and my respect for both Kiekhaefers is immeasurable.

In later years I was privileged to race equipment on Mercury Team Canada on both sides of the border. I am not Canadian, but there was an overabundance of US drivers racing with Mercury assistance and I lived closest  among the US candidates to Mercury's Canadian HQ in Mississauga, Ontario.615635_4471421340621_1537199176_o.jpg

During the period when the above picture was taken, I was working with my closest friend and racing ally, George Linder, Mercury dealer Elbie Kronenberg, and my business partner Don Lostumbo, on developing the first production offshore catamarans, the Shadow Cat. This hull quickly gained worldwide notoriety and was beta tested in close collaboration with Mercury Racing at both Oshkosh (pictured) and Lake X. The boat won World and National Championships and set multiple records in all of the classes that it raced in. 


After the success of the Shadow Cats, Don and I started Conquest Marine and with designs from George Linder, continued our development work with Mercury Racing;

Mercury Racing/Conquest collaboration at LakeX  testing Champ motors on a Conquest Offshore Catamaran.sMercury Racing/Conquest collaboration at LakeX testing Champ motors on a Conquest Offshore Catamaran.s


Following the 1986 death of Mark Lavin in one of our hulls, George and I became founding members of the Mark Lavin Safety Foundation which continues to this day with worldwide impact.

I was also recruited by a video producer to fly in a helicopter with the door off doing live to tape narration at over 150 Offshore races. This led to both on site and studio work for major broadcast outlets including ESPN, Speed Channel, TNN, Prime and others. During this period I had the unique privilege of showcasing all of Mercury Racings product development to an eager television audience. I witnessed and broadcast both Outboard and Inboard racing product offerings including the open class fuel injected engines, the Mercury 1000SC, the #5 drive, the original K drive which subsequently became the #6, followed by the first dry sump modifications, the 2.4 and 2.5 Offshore racing outboards, the early CLE lowers, the Sportmasters, and the ever improving propeller modifications.

Currently I am Chairman of the American Powerboat Association's Offshore Racing Commission and get to watch from a choice seat as Mercury Racing moves smartly into the lead of 21st century marine performance technology. 

There are too many other stories, names and memories to post here. Clearly, I have been blessed in my associations with both Mercury Marine and Mercury Racing and hope this highly condensed snapshot of my experiences is of interest to your readers. 

Best wishes to Mercury Racing on this momentous anniversary.

Rich Luhrs

Team Racing
Team Racing

Thank you Rich for sharing your story!! It is an honor to work with you in present day racing, and a privilege to hear your history.