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Author Topic:   Mercury Lake-X to Close, Moving to Site-X
jimh posted 03-22-2004 12:48 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Mercury Announces New X-Site Test Facility

Lake X and Placida Operations Integrated at Panama City, Fla., Site

FOND DU LAC, Wisc. The sun will set on Mercury's Lake X operations for the final time March 26 when Mercury Marine leaves the legendary test center to open a new 8.4-acre, integrated research-and-development site on

Watson Bayou near Panama City. Lake X served as Mercury and Mercury Racing's premier proving grounds the past 47 years, providing confidentiality for the company's secret, and often industry-changing, test efforts.

Lake X has also provided a home base for Mercury Racing's offshore race
support team. Race teams, OEM boat builders and dealers have valued Lake X
because of its secluded location and access to Mercury Racing's on-site rigging and technical support.

The new facility at Watson Bayou, recently named X-Site will feature multiple in-water slips, as well as an office, laboratory and boat-rigging building. Former Lake X operations, including offshore race support, will bebased there.

"Mercury has a rich history from its decades at Lake X, but we have simply outgrown it," said Fred Kiekhaefer, president of Mercury Racing and son of Mercury founder Carl Kiekhaefer. "As a kid, when I was driving endurance there, it seemed like hours to get around the lake. At today's boat speeds, it's seconds! This has become a limitation in the services we can provide. Since we could not stretch the lake, we needed a new X-Site."

X-Site is scheduled to open by April 14, though the exact date will depend on the progress of construction.

Mercury selected Watson Bayou near Panama City over 52 other potential sites based on criteria that included realistic boating conditions, available marine technical personnel and a degree of seclusion.

Watson Bayou also offers suitable calm and rough conditions in both saltwater and freshwater, which will allow the same facility and staff members to test everything from high-end offshore race boats to small outboard-powered tenders. Additionally, a combined testing facility adheres to the company's lean-thinking philosophy and migration toward increased integration.

Lake X Operations Manager Bill Harris will oversee Mercury Racing's customer support and offshore race activities at X-Site.

"Because of the high-speed capabilities of today's offshore race boats, Mercury Racing has outgrown Lake X's usefulness," said Harris. "We look forward to the vast amount of water available to us in Panama City, along with the state-of-the-art building that will feature drive and engine-rebuilding, and our legendary rigging capabilities, once construction is complete."

Bill Nesslar, manager of Mercury's former saltwater test facility in Placida, Fla., will oversee all Mercury production research-and-development testing at the new Panama City site. John Sherlock will oversee Mercury Racing's research-and-development testing.

jimh posted 03-22-2004 12:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
This article provides an interesting adjunct to the one above:

Note the boat the test driver owns and uses on his day off.
(A Boston Whaler, of course!)

JFM posted 03-22-2004 08:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
What a life! Although he probably doesnt fit the picture in his boat at "spring break". I think I would latch on to one of his work boats for that and get the job done right ;-)!!!

Regards, Jay

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