Mercury Racing Family
As Father’s Day approaches, I can’t help but think about my late dad Stu who introduced me to the water and to boating when I was growing up in Westbrook, Connecticut, on Long Island Sound. If he hadn’t have fostered my love of boating by taking me fishing for bluefish and stripers when I was about 10 years old, I would not have been able to combine a journalism degree with a love for the water into the career that I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy.
And some of the best stories I’ve heard through the years have been about fathers and their kids in the high-performance boating world, whether it’s multi-generational racing teams or progeny continuing the family business (or in some cases both), this truly is a family based activity.
Decades ago, fellow Nutmeg State natives John and J.D. D’Elia made up the Special Edition offshore racing team. My current home state of Maine produced two offshore racing teams. Father Art and son Mike Girard started in a 38’ Cigarette Top Gun, Airborne, before getting into a Skater cat sponsored by Sloppy Joes in the 1990s. Additionally, locally well-known attorney Dan Lilly and his son Dan Lilly Jr., formed the Defender team racing a Skater 36 in the former U.S. Offshore Racing Association before becoming fixtures on the poker run circuit in the northeast more recently.
In the 1990s, the Peppers Racing team of Michael and George Stancombe emerged as a potent tandem that became one of the sport’s most popular pairings. Today Steve Kildahl and his son Steven pair up in the cockpit in their 30’ Phantom in the Super Vee Lite class. Bob Teague and his son John set the record for the Miami to the Bahamas run in Bob’s Skater 368, AMSOIL, and they’ve become annual contenders at the Parker Enduro on the Colorado River. Additionally, John and his sister Cherilyn Noack work at the family business, Teague Custom Marine, in Valencia, Calif.
Speaking of families that race and work together, Reggie Fountain and his sons Wyatt and Reggie III have teamed up in various combinations in the cockpit of a variety of raceboats. They are also working together at Fountain Performance Marine in North Carolina, rigging and restoring all types of boats with fantastic results. William Moore started sweeping floors at his father’s shop, Bobby Moore’s Custom Marine on Miami’s NE 188th Street when he was a schoolboy, and former P1 world champion and current drive and setup guru Craig Wilson learned at the hands of his father Mark, who is a noted propeller wizard and surface drive expert.
Mark Wilson did his fare share of Formula One tunnel boat racing, but when it comes to that world, the first family is the Seebolds, made up of father Bill and sons Mike and Tim. The family ruled the sport for decades.
Father Skip Braver of Cigarette Racing
_Son Chad Braver of Cigarette Racing _
On the manufacturing side, Mike Fiore, president of Outerlimits, learned all the facets of the business from his father Paul Fiore, who founded Hustler Powerboats. Recently Mike and his wife Shonda welcomed their son Jet, who no doubt will be on the water sooner than later. At Cigarette Racing Team, son Chad is putting his engineering degree from Purdue University to work in product development for his dad Skip Braver, who owns the company. On the West Coast, Jerry Barron has worked for his father Nick Barron at Hallett Boats for as long as I can remember. And who could forget one of the most famous names in marine performance, Kiekhaefer? Fred worked for his father Karl, who founded Mercury, personally experiencing more milestones in the go-fast world than most of us can ever remember.
I’m sure there are a number of other family stories, but the point here is a simple one. Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads who make performance boating their career, their passion or both.