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Charles D. Strang, inventor of the stern drive, passes away

Charles D. Strang, Jr.

Charles D. Strang, Jr.

Charles D. Strang, Jr., who is credited with inventing the stern drive, passed away on March 11 at the age of 96.

As a research associate in the department of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., Strang is said to have drawn up the design for the first stern drive.

In 1951, he became director of research at Kiekhaefer Mercury Marine and eventually Strang worked his way up to vice president. In 1966, he was director of outboard marine engineering at Outboard Marine Corporation where he later became CEO and chairman of the board. Strang’s board of directors while he was at OMC included Bill Marriott, astronaut Frank Borman, NASCAR owner Bill France and Richard Teerling, CEO of Harley Davidson. In 1998, France announced that Strang would become the national commissioner for NASCAR and he held that post for 10 years. In 2015 Strang was inducted into the MOPAR Hall of Fame.

Strang grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of the late Charles D. Sr., and Ann Strang. He graduated from the Polytechnic University of Brooklyn with a degree in mechanical engineering. Strang enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp and he was assigned to Wright Aeronautical Corporation in New Jersey as a test engineer on aircraft engines. After about a year, he was sent to the Flight Propulsion Research Laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (known as NASA today) until 1947.

As a child, Strang enjoyed racing outboard-powered runabouts and hydroplanes and he spent many years serving the American Power Boat Association in a number of roles. He also became the only American president of the Union Internationale Motonautique, the worldwide governing body for powerboat racing.

Strang is survived by his wife of 33 years, Barbara, his sister and brother-in-law, Sandy and Renn Jachimowski.

Services for Strang will be held at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, March 18 at the Strang Funeral Home of Antioch. 

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