Quicksilver And Mercury Marine’s Heritage In Dirt Track Racing

Buck Baker’s 1956 NASCAR Championship Mercury Marine car. Photo from wikipedia.org.

While it may sound like a fairly new business venture, Mercury Marine (Quicksilver) has offered products to the dirt track racing family with great success over the last decade. The brand has become more popular with each passing year and no one raises an eyebrow that an boat motor company sells crate engines under the Quicksilver brand. What may have people raising an eyebrow is when we tell them that Mercury Marine totally dominated NASCAR every year of their involvement – reaching back to the mid-1950s.

How does any of this relate to dirt track racing? For the two years that Carl Kiekhaefer’s Mercury team was involved in NASCAR’s top series, 80 of the 101 races that were held in 1955 and 1956 were run on dirt tracks. Of those 80 dirt track races, the Mercury Marine team won 45 of the events. Add another 7 on paved tracks for a total of 52 wins out of 101 races. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that their average was well over 50 percent, which means over half of the time they showed up at the track, they won.

How It Began

Carl Kiekhaefer felt that he could use the exciting sport of car racing to help promote and sell products from his successful boat motor company. In 1954, he sponsored a couple of 1954 Chrysler New Yorker coupes driven by Tony Bettenhausen and Frank Mundy, at the Milwaukee Mile. Car owner Kiekhaefer won the three races that he had entered.

Having such great success, and being bitten by the racing bug, Kiekhaefer bought a few Chrysler 300s and entered into NASCAR’s 1955 season. Knowing that his Kiekhaefer Mercury company name and reputation was on the line, he sparred no expense. He bought top equipment, fielded a full team, bought a couple of transporters – things that were unheard of at that time.

Showing up for the first race of the season with former Champion Tim Flock , who would become the primary driver for the team. Flock ended up racing in a grueling 38 events, taking 18 wins and 18 poles en route to the 1955 NASCAR Grand National Championship. The grind took a toll on Kiekhaefer and Flock’s relationship and the the pair had a falling out at the beginning of the next season.

Hardcore driver Buck Baker was the primary driver for the Kiekhaefer Mercury team for the 1956 season. In 44 events that he entered, Baker won 14 races, 12 poles, and racked up an amazing 35 top 10 finishes. He captured the team’s second NASCAR Championship. In all, the Mercury Marine team had drivers that finished first, second, third and ninth in the series point standings.

One of 1955 NASCAR Champion Tim Flock’s Mercury Marine cars. Photo from wikipedia.org.

The domination shown by the Mercury team was so overwhelming that it led to accusations of cheating, and turned many fans against the team. Kiekhaefer left NASCAR for fear of a backlash that would affect Mercury sales. He did not leave motorsports however, and went on to be equally as dominant in watersports.

What Quicksilver Does Today

Started in 1950, Quicksilver has branded themselves as a major player in the motorsports industry with quality marine parts, accessories and engine car products. They are also the premiere supplier of Mercury Marine equipment, replacement parts, and accessories. This includes a line of circle track race engines.

These dependable crate engines are built with a focus on helping racers lower engine operating costs, helping the teams stay on the track and win races. Their line includes the 383 CT engine that is exactly what it sounds like. A 383ci cast-iron engine with a 4bbl dual plane manifold that is built to run on 87 and higher octane.

Another crate engine in the lineup is tailor-made for stock car and modified series. The 357 CT crate features 9.4:1 compression, a roller cam, with a 4bbl dual plane manifold that is built to run on 87 and higher octane.

These crate engines have been so popular that a couple of tracks are talking about starting a series specifically for Quicksilver sealed crate engines. Keep your ear out for more news on these series.

For more information on Quicksilver’s circle track crate engines, visit them online at Quicksilver Products.

Article Sources

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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