Seven years ago today, Mike Fiore, the founder of Offshore Outerlimits Powerboats and one of the high-performance marine industry’s brightest lights, died in a Missouri hospital three days after a horrific accident during the 2014 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. Fiore was 44-years old and left behind three children, one from his previous wife, Martina, and three from his current wife, Shonda, and a legion of go-fast boating friends and fans who adored him.
A couple of weeks before the 2014 Lake of the Ozark, Mike Fiore (second from right) kicked back with friends and colleagues (from left) Joe Sgro, Dan Kleitz and Steve Curtis at the Buffalo Poker Run in Western New York.
When Fiore died, a part of the people who loved him—this reporter among them—died with him. That’s because he was wonderfully human, talented and charismatic, deeply flawed and often aggravating, funny and endearing.
“Every time I’d talked to him, everything was a rush,” said Vinnie Diorio, a longtime Outerlimits customer and Fiore friend turned offshore racer running a 39-foot Outerlimits catamaran called SV Racing. “He was always behind but would always pull through it, smelling like a rose.
“He flew by the seat of his pants,” he added, then laughed. “That’s what I liked about him.”
Or as another one of his customers once said famously, “You could call Mike all fired up with a legitimate beef, all ready to cut him a new one, and end up apologizing for bugging him by the end of the call.”
Fiore was that charming. Just ask Burton Kirsten, Dave Scotto, Jason Moe and pretty much any Outerlimits client who went through the build process with him. At various stages, all of them wanted to punch or hug him—often in the same moment.
For those who knew him and counted him as a friend, Lake of the Ozarks Shootout weekend is bittersweet and always will be.
“I think the same thing that grabbed me about Mike is probably the same thing that Mike maybe saw in me,” said Stephen Miles of Stephen Miles Design in Owensboro, Ky., who credits Fiore with getting him into the boat-painting business. “He would look at parts and pieces to a new boat, as well as the entire boat from 15 different angles to make sure it was the way it should be. He always seemed like he was being led around by his passion.”
Though mourning and remembrance wouldn’t be an unreasonable response to such a tragic milestone, we can also choose to celebrate Fiore today. In the performance-boating world, his legacy lives in the company he built—not without significant highs and lows during the years—the amazing products he created and the close family of Outerlimits customers who came to love him.
Just four months before he died, an Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats SV 43 Mike Fiore created set a new V-bottom kilometer record of 180.464 mph that stands today—and won’t be broken anytime soon—with Brian Forehand driving and throttling.
Thank you, Mike Fiore, we celebrate you today. You made our world brighter and more colorful. And a whole lot more fun.