Skip to Content
Menu

About Us

EXPLORE OUR 40 YEAR HISTORY

“Our Story” – We have so much history and accomplishments over the last 40 years. With all the support from our employees, customers and those friends and family who helped along the way.  This would not be possible without you. 

thank you all,

Performance Marine 

Jan 1978

BEGINNINGS IN LAKE PLACID, FLORIDA

Performance Marine was Founded by Jene and Darin Whitaker in 1978.

Jene was 22 and Darin 18 years old – the couple ventured into the boat business. They were both into boating, water sports and high-performance vehicles which became a passion for both of them.

Feb 1978

STARTING THE SHOP

Growing up in Lake Placid with all the lakes and waterways Jene and Darin felt the need for a business to serve boaters in their community by providing high-quality products and service.

They built a small shop on U.S. Highway 27 just north town with a showroom, service bays, and fenced in the property for boats on display or being repaired. As their customer base grew so did the shop. They hired on mechanics, sales persons, and rigging techs.

March 1978

Performance Marine Endurance Racing

The crew at Performance Marine worked on boats during the day but after hours built race cars. The team built 4 Chevrolet Camaro’s which they raced at many different tracks like Sebring 12 Hours Endurance Race, Daytona 24 Hour, Road Atlanta and Miami Grand Prix. Standing beside car Left to Right – Jene Whitaker, Tom Norton, Steve Lauhnahan, Allan Underwood, & Lee Henderson.

1979 - 1982

In 1979 shortly after their grand opening Jene and Darin purchased joining property on north side of property and added on an extra service bay.

1983

Mud Racing “Showtime”

Built from a 1964 Chevrolet El Camino “Showtime” started out as just a 2 wheel drive mud bogging vehicle that was street legal. The team began making molds out of fiberglass to start building the light weight body parts. A tube chassis was built also to make room for larger paddle tires and safer for high speeds. In the early mud racing days the tracks were 300′ Feet.

June 1984

The Need for a Machine Shop

During racing Performance Marine’s Showtime Mud Dragster, many customers asked if Performance could build and repair engine for their boats and cars. Jene and Darin bought a Laythe, Kwikway boring bar, and Kwikway Master Head Surfacer to start.

1984

Kilo Record Attempt

In 1984 Performance built a custom 2.4 Mariner Outboard and put it on a Custom built Bullet 19 V Bass Boat to run in the Moore Haven, Fl Kilo Record Runs

1985-1986

Showtime 2

Was built using some of the parts from Showtime 1 but was an entire different chassis design. More up to date safety equipment and different engine combination.

1987-1992

Showtime 3

Same Chassis as Showtime 2 but newer fiberglass body, new front end with 4 wheel drive & updated safety features to run NMRO mud racing events. Jene raced in the Pro division of NMRO with his small block powered ElCamino

1993

Property Expansion

Performance Marine purchases back property off of Vista Drive to facilitate more service boats. The Private connecting road from Highway 27 to SW Vista drive had to be filled in. Jene with Shop Crew Tim Townsend, Bobby Piefer, Darrel Wilhite, Jonathan Weems, and Russel Hyatt. Robert Moore and Jene at Mercury’s Dealer Training “Mercury University”.

1994

Performance Marine Drag Racing

With the Machine Shop expanding and Sebring drag race track just up the road, Jene decided to build two custom Chevrolet Extended Cab S-10 Drag Trucks.

1997

Performance Marine Expands

Jene and Darin purchase Miller Realty property next door on the south side which included a office building and billboard

Dec 1997

Performance Marine Testing New Hydrostream on Lake June with New Mariner 260 EFI. A little to much trim.

1999

Boat Accident

In June of 1999 Jene Whitaker was testing at Mercury’s Lake “X”.

Boating Accident Ends Experienced Racer’s Life

June 18, 1999 By Susan Jacobson of The Sentinel Staff

KISSIMMEE – A man who was critically injured while testing race boat on Lake Conlin has died.

Jene Mallory Whitaker, 42, died at 11:34 p.m. Wednesday of head and spinal injuries suffered in a 9:14 a.m. accident in east Osceola County, said Joe Brown, Orlando Regional Medical Center spokesman. He also suffered a broken leg and fractured ribs after being thrown into the water. Whitaker was wearing safety equipment helmet, neck brace and high speed impact life jacket.

Whitaker, an experienced boat and car racer from Lake Placid in Highlands County, was testing an experimental boat across the lake, also known as Lake X, when the wind lifted his 18-foot tunnel hull and overturned it, the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission said.

Lake X Rescue Team restored Whitaker’s pulse and breathing, officials said before he was air lifted & taken to Orlando hospital, where he was unconscious and hooked to a ventilator.

Lake X is so named because it’s used for secret testing of boats and engines by Mercury Marine, a Wisconsin company with a plant in St. Cloud. Whitaker was a customer/dealer for Mercury Marine a Mercury Marine spokesman said.

January 2000

Moving Forward

After Jene’s death Darin and crew move forward and continue business. Darin expands property, paves and fences boat yard in.

June 2000

Darin & Mike Co Purchase Lake and Bay Boat Company

Moves flats boat company from Stuart FL to Sebring manufacturing plant building custom flats and bass boats.

2002

Mike Whitaker Testing new Race Boat Allison River Racer With Mercury SS Racing Outboard

2006

Kilo Records

2006 Crescent City Florida Mike Whitaker sets 3 APBA Kilo Official Records

March 2008

Performance Marine Builds replica Tunnel Hull Boat Like Performance Marine had back in 1978.

October 2008

Performance Marine Testing new products

Mike Whitaker works with bullet to develop new saltwater boats. Bullet added a full coastal edition option to their bass boats with stainless hardware and aluminum trailers. Bullet also developed a 22′ Flats boat model which was built off the 21 XRD hull but modified for flats fishing.

February 2009

In February of 2009 Performance Marine added  a bait shop in the building on the south. Selling live and artificial baits. Open 7 Days a week

2017

Drag Racing continues at Sebring

After being closed for over 15 years Sebring Raceway brings back drag racing to Highlands county.

2018

Performance Marine returns to Mercury’s Lake X

Mercury Launches new V8 outboard platform and teams up with Bullet Boats to do some photo’s / testing.

Jan 2019

Current 2019 Performance Marine shop and service center.

Present