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Lake X.... Thanks for the memories

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Old 03-19-2004, 02:50 PM
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Default Lake X.... Thanks for the memories

Mercury Announces New X-Site Test Facility

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

-- A Mercury Marine Press Release --


FOND DU LAC, Wis. 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 be based 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.
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Old 03-19-2004, 03:02 PM
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Sucks to see it go, But ...

I want a job at X-Site,

That is gonna be an awesome place to test!!!!
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Old 03-19-2004, 03:02 PM
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The First Outboard Performance Class (OPC) race.......at Lake X way back when..........
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Old 03-19-2004, 03:03 PM
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shame it had to move but it sounds like they simply needed a more suitable facility for todays demands. i hope they will be able to cary the mystique the always surounded the Lake X facility. i always thought that was kinda cool. any idea what will happen to the old site? and how big was the lake at Fond Du Lac?
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Old 03-19-2004, 03:06 PM
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Just out of curiosity, how big is the original lake X?

Brian
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Old 03-19-2004, 03:08 PM
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T2X,

Does the Kiekafer family still own the lake? Is the house on the far end still up? Is testing still limited to half the lake?

It's been 15 years since I've been.

Sincerely,

Whirly
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Old 03-19-2004, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Whirlygig
T2X,

Does the Kiekafer family still own the lake? Is the house on the far end still up? Is testing still limited to half the lake?

It's been 15 years since I've been.

Sincerely,

Whirly
No, the Old Man sold the Lake back in the early 80's..It has been leased back to Mercury Marine since that time.

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Old 03-19-2004, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by glassdave
shame it had to move but it sounds like they simply needed a more suitable facility for todays demands. i hope they will be able to cary the mystique the always surounded the Lake X facility. i always thought that was kinda cool. any idea what will happen to the old site? and how big was the lake at Fond Du Lac?
The Lake X Cattle company will probably do what all landowners do within 50 miles of Orlando........ Put up a golf course development.

The Lake at Fond Du Lac was...and still is... Lake Winnebago which is at least 40 miles long and maybe 8-10 miles wide as I recall.

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Old 03-19-2004, 03:24 PM
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The people that own lake X grounds are right here in Altamonte springs.. they are a banking software company... Kirchman corporation.
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Old 03-19-2004, 03:28 PM
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Sad to see Mercury moving out of Lake X. A lot of history unfolded there as Mercury and many others pushed the limits of performance boating. Bigger and better things await, though.
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