Commentary: Enjoying Mercury Racing’s Virtual Tour

Besides maybe the Cigarette Racing facility, the one place any go-fast enthusiast would dream to tour would have to be the Mercury Racing facility. And although allowing tours to groups or consumers isn’t the norm, it does happen on occasion.

This Hulkin' Green 1350 awaits its turn on a dyno at Mercury Racing's facility.
This Hulkin’ Green 1350 awaits its turn on a dyno at Mercury Racing’s facility. Courtesy Mercury Racing

As a journalist in this business, I’ve been one of the lucky guests to be escorted on a tour of the plant in Fond du Lac, Wis. But now you don’t have to be a magazine editor, boat builder, parts supplier or racer to get a behind-the-scenes look at the facility thanks to Mercury Racing’s Virtual Tour blogs.

Kudos to the team at Mercury for opening up its facility to everyone and anyone via its online blog. Obviously I spend a lot of time online, so I know good content when I see it, and Mercury has nailed this one.

From the writing style to the amount of professional, behind-the-scenes images, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first two posts—the introduction and history of Mercury Racing and the second one regarding quality control, paint and more—which were written by Senior Marketing Manager Rick Mackie. Still, even better is the accompanying high-definition videos. I watched them both—twice.

The automated Coordinate Measurement Machine is the newest addition to Mercury Racing's Quality Control room. Courtesy Mercury Racing
Rick Mackie, Mercury's senior marketing manager, knows the facility inside and out as he's given plenty of tours over his tenure with the company. Courtesy Mercury Racing

In the first one, Mercury Racing President Fred Kiekhaefer provides a historical account of Plant 36, the original advanced engineering facility created by his father, the legendary Carl Kiekhaefer. In the second video, you get an inside look at the production process through interviews with various directors of manufacturing and engineering. Both videos are worth sitting through as they’re well produced by John Potts of American Performance Television.

“We actually did a full walk-through tour of the plant with production highlights and more in 2005 with John Potts, but when we went through it earlier this year we realized a lot of it was outdated, plus it was in standard definition,” Mackie said. “So we decided it would be cool to bring John and his crew up to Mercury Racing again to capture everything in high definition. I figured between all the new products we have and the fact that people don’t normally get to see the plant, I figured it would make an interesting series of blog posts. Plus we’ll have the footage for sales tools, marketing efforts and much more.”

And so far the posts have been well received, according to Mackie, who said upcoming posts/videos will focus on outboard production, propeller development and what Mercury calls its “Horsepower Highway,” the area where the new 565 engine is produced along with the 502-based engines such as the 525EFI, 600SCi and 700SCi. I know I can’t wait to check out the next one.