Notably absent from domestic offshore powerboat racing’s annual world championships in Key West, Fla., for the first time in more than 30 years, industry icon Fred Kiekhaefer opted to pass on attending last week’s Super Boat International and continue work on his new “advanced propulsion project.” The former well-known president of high-performance marine engine giant Mercury Racing, Kiekhaefer left the Fond Du Lac, Wis., company as an employee in early 2013 and formed his own design and engineering firm called K.Lab Design Works in Castle Pines, Colo.
Fred Kiehaefer: “I’m reenergizing neurons that haven’t fired in 30 years.”
“Last year in Key West—the 25th anniversary of the Kiekhaefer Drive winning the world championships—was the big year for me,” said Kiekhaefer, who is currently enjoying a day on the water in Cigarette’s new 41′ Stern Drive 1040 luxury center console with his longtime friend Skip Braver, the owner of Cigarette Racing Team. “I am in the weeds on the details and getting certain things done, things I used to be able to delegate a long, long time ago such as materials processes and vendor selection.
“I am a one-man band,” he added, then laughed. “If I don’t work, nobody works. I’m trying to meet the deadlines I set for myself. So I stayed home (from Key West last week), worked and did good things.”
As for specifics on his ongoing propulsion system project, Kiekhaefer, who holds engineering and masters of business administration degrees, is keeping the details under wraps. Additional information, according to the K.Lab website, is available to clients and suppliers who’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement.
“I am still working on my little secret project, but it’s still too early to share,” said Kiekhaefer. “I’m reenergizing neurons that haven’t fired in 30 years, and it’s fun. Some of the process technologies I am coming up with are groundbreaking. It’s really cool stuff, and I’m learning.”