When Rick Mackie called a couple of weeks back to tell me he was leaving Mercury Racing, I tried—and failed—to hold back tears. The brightest ambassadorial light in the Fond du Lac, Wis., high-performance marine engine and accessories company, Mackie was one of the first industry people I met when I joined Powerboat magazine in late 1993. Back then, he worked for Fred Kiekhaefer, the legendary president of Mercury Racing, alongside fellow marketing man Tony Esposito, a no-nonsense, wisecracking Midwesterner.
Mercury Racing’s Rick Mackie will never be replaced. But he will be remembered.
They were quite a trio. Kiekhaefer was brilliant and sometimes a little scary. Esposito was (as noted above) a smart-ass with a knack for product promotion and, as a former reporter, adept at dealing with media types. Mackie helped Esposito get those media types exactly what they needed when they needed it, which usually meant yesterday. And no matter how rushed, he was unfailingly cooperative, kind and gentle—and joyful.
Mackie dreamed about working for Mercury while he was growing up in Sault St. Marie, Mich. He “fooled around” with Mercury outboard-powered boats throughout his adolescent and teenage years. When then Mercury Hi-Performance hired him what would have been 31 years ago next month, he thought he had arrived in heaven.