On a late-fall morning in 2009, Fred Kiekhaefer, then president of Mercury Racing in Fond du Lac, Wis., called to tell me he was emailing a non-disclosure agreement. He told to me to sign it and return it. Then we could talk.
Moments later, I got the same cryptic call from Skip Braver, the owner and chief executive officer of Cigarette Racing Team in Opa-locka, Fla.
Later that day, I learned through separate calls with Kiekhaefer and Braver that Mercury Racing was introducing a groundbreaking quad-cam four-valve, twin-turbocharged 1,350-hp engine, a pair of which would debut in the first Cigarette-AMG sportboat, at the 2010 Miami International Boat Show. What’s more, they offered me the exclusive story to go live on speedonthewater.com when the show opened and tasked me to write a feature version of it for Cigarette’s own Smokin’ magazine.
I was thrilled and terrified—thrilled at the opportunity to break such big news, terrified because I knew how important the story was to two men of high standards who trusted me with it. Their faith humbled me. It still does.
Some 10 years later, I marvel at what Mercury’s QC4v engine platform has become, from the naturally aspirated 860 to the dual-calibration 1550/1350. When it comes to high-performance, sterndrive marine power, the QC4v engine series owns the market.
Starting with the 1350, the evolution of Mercury Racing’s QC4v engine series has been remarkable.
I also still marvel equally at the ongoing marketing collaboration between Cigarette Racing Team and Mercedes-AMG. While those who discount that relationship will never see its intrinsic value, nothing quite like it has ever endured so long in the high-performance powerboat industry.
In 2010, Cigarette Racing Team and Mercury Racing gave the marine world a glimpse of the future. And it was one hell of a view.