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Carl Kiekhaefer

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Carl Kiekhaefer
Owner(s) Name Carl Kiekhaefer
Racing Series NASCAR Grand National
Number of Championships 2 (1955 and 1956)
Number of Wins 52 (including 16 straight)
Car Number(s) 300, 300A, 300B, 300C, 301, 500, 500B
Notable Driver(s) Buck Baker
Bob Flock
Fonty Flock
Tim Flock
Speedy Thompson
Herb Thomas
Notable Sponsor(s) Mercury outboard motors
Manufacturer Chrysler
Shop Location
Year Opened 1955
Year Closed 1956

Elmer Carl Kiekhaefer (1906 - October 5, 1983) was the owner of Kiekhaefer Marine (later Mercury Marine), and also a two-time NASCAR championship car owner.

Kiekhaefer Mercury founderEdit

for the main article, see Mercury Marine.
Kiekhaefer was born in Wisconsin. He was a young engineer right out of college when he received his first of his over 200 patents. He purchased an outboard motor manufacturing company in Cedarburg, Wisconsin in 1939. He bought the company intending to make magnetic separators for the area's dairy industry. The purchased company had 300 defective motors that he rebuilt and sold to catalog company Montgomery Ward. Orders kept coming in for the motors, and Kiekhaefer Corporation was born.

NASCAR ownerEdit

Kiekhaefer decided to use car racing to promote his now profitable boat motor company. He purchased large and powerful Chrysler 300 cars to use in NASCAR for the 1955 season. Kiekhaefer was a millionaire, so he could afford the expensive cars unlike the other teams. He bought the best equipment, and had a fleet of cars.

He brought his car with no driver to the first race at the Daytona Beach Road Course. Retired former champion Tim Flock had "retired" after the 1954 season, but he was convinced to come out of retirement by Kiekhaefer for $40,000 [1].

1955Edit

Tim Flock was the primary driver for the team. Flock entered 38 events, with 18 wins, 18 poles, and 32 Top-10 finishes on his way to the NASCAR championship. Kiekhaefer and Flock had a falling out early in the 1956 season.

Kiekhaefer had 6 drivers race for him during the 45 event season. The drivers had a combined 22 wins, 47 Top-10s, and 23 poles in their 64 races.

1956Edit

Buck Baker was a primary driver for the team. Baker entered 44 events, with 14 wins, 12 poles, and 35 Top-10 finishes on his way to the team's second consecutive champsionship.

Speedy Thompson was also a primary driver for the team. Thompson entered 39 events, with 8 wins, 7 poles, and 28 Top-10 finishes on his way to finishing third in the final points.

Kiekhaefer had 9 drivers race for him in the 56 event season, including first, second, third, and ninth in the final series points. The drivers combined for 30 wins, 25 poles, and 92 Top-10 finishes in their 126 races. Four drivers combined for 16 straight team wins between March 25 and June 3.

Kiekhaefer left NASCAR after two highly successful seasons because he was accused of cheating by the other competitors (even though no rules infractions were found under NASCAR's close scrutiny), NASCAR changed the rules to Kiekhaefer's disadvantage, and he didn't want a backlash to affect Mercury sales after fans booed the team.

Other highlights/innovations/firstsEdit

  • The team was the first to use dry paper air filters, which are now standard equipment in today's cars.
  • Kiekhaefer brought the first major national sponsor to NASCAR (excluding automotive-related companies) [2] in Mercury outboard motors.
  • He brought a new level of professionalism to NASCAR. He brought the cars to the track on flatbeds, when most drivers drove their car to the track. The cars were professionally painted and detailed. Team members wore uniforms.
  • The team was considered to be the first superteam in NASCAR. The team raced five cars at most events during the 1956 season, and even fielded six cars at the 1956 Daytona Beach Road Course race.

Boating pioneerEdit

In 1957 Kiekhaefer introduced the Mark 75 motor, the industry's first 6-cylinder 60 hp (horsepower) outboard motor. Two Mark 75 motors set an endurance record by running for 68.75 days nonstop and over 50,000 miles. The motors were refueled on the run, and averaged 30.3 mph (miles per hour).

In 1961 Kiekhaefer Marine merged with the Brunswick Corporation.

Later that year Kiekhaefer would use his NASCAR and boat engineering skills to develop the 100 hp stern drive engine now known as MerCruiser. And as any offshore racing fan knows, the MerCruiser engine is the most successful stern drive ever developed. The engine once held over 80 percent of the worldwide market share.

Kiekhaefer resigned as president of the company in 1969, and the company name changed to Mercury Marine.

AwardsEdit

External linksEdit

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