Go-Fast Blast From: The Past Night Refueling at Lake X

Night refueling was a critical part of the company's endurance record runs.

Nighttime refueling for test boats during endurance trials at Mercury Marine's Lake X test facility.Courtesy Mercury Marine

Almost immediately after taking control of the Lake X property in 1957, Carl Kiekhaefer and Mercury attempted one of the boldest publicity stunts of the company’s history, an endurance trial that would see two boats powered by 70-hp Mercury Mark 75 outboards run non-stop for 25,000 miles, equivalent to a circumnavigation of the world.

A dock was built, and a house trailer was parked at the water’s edge to serve as a command post. Cypress trees had to be blasted out the lake to make room for a 5.5366-mile course. The crew rigged two 15-foot Raveau runabouts with 30-gallon fuel tanks and bright headlights. Buoys on the course were also lighted. Because the boats were to run non-stop, refueling and driver changes were accomplished while underway. The refueling boats had 50-gallon drums mounted on a five-foot-high stand and a three-inch hose was passed to the boat driver who attached the hose to the fuel tank. Drivers simply hopped back and forth between the boats. Driving shifts lasted about four hours. The engines were hand-inspected, and during the test were throttled back to 4500 rpm to enhance durability.

Mercury engaged the United States Auto Club to sanction.