Estero, Florida’s Stephen Kildahl is, quite literally, an exception to the rule. That’s why he’s one of the inaugural class of Team E3 Racing Tier 1 winners.
Kildahl has been racing speedboats since age 16, when he received a special dispensation to compete on the Super Boat International Offshore Boat Racing Circuit. The rule book said competitors must be at least 18 years old, but Kildahl’s talent and skill were clearly beyond his years. And he’s since proven that the move was a good one.
In just four years, Kildahl has racked up 14 career wins, one world championship, two national championships and three Florida championships. And at age 20, he remains the youngest full time driver on the circuit by at least 10 years, regularly going deck-to-deck with racers boasting many more years of experience on the water. That’s quite an accomplishment, especially considering that many deem boat racing tougher than car, truck or motorcycle racing. After all, with boat racing, there is no solid surface or set course features. Everything changes with the winds, the tides, etc.
“You never know what you are going to get,” Kildahl told a Tampa Bay Times reporter just before the Clearwater Super Boat National/Florida Championship last September. “Every day it is something different. Conditions can change from the beginning to the end of the race.”
Plus, while auto racers handle both the speed and the steering, powerboat racing is a team effort with one team member at the wheel and the other at the throttle. If one sees something the other doesn’t or makes an unexpected decision, it could mean the difference in winning, losing or even finishing the race.
For the 2012 powerboat racing season, Kildahl will be behind the wheel of a 30-foot Phantom with a 525HP racing engine. He and his new team, Scott Free Racing, expect to hit speeds of 90-95 miles per hour. So if you’re on the water, stay out of his way! And be sure to stock your own boat with a set of E3 racing spark plugs. If you’re on dry land, check the E3 Spark Plugs blog and Facebook fan page for updates on Kildahl’s racing career.