Ben Keller, a longtime member of ERCU and a friend to all who knew him passed away on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024.
It was his birthday.
Ben was a long-time choir teacher at Lakes High School in the Clover Park School District. He also served as an adjudicator for choir competitions across the Pacific Northwest. Music was just one of his passions. He also loved unlimited hydroplane racing, photography, his friends & family and Mercedes Benz cars. In addition to his long-time membership in ERCU and Electric Scale Unlimiteds, Ben was also heavily involved in the Seattle Section of the Mercedes Benz Club of America.
Ben had been hospitalized after a fall.
He loved music, and his own career, so much that he named his racing team and his photograph sharing “Choral Enterprises”.
While in ERCU, Ben owned a 1/10 scale model of the 1957 Hawaii Kai III, which finished its career in 2020 with 123,730 career points - good for second most in the club’s history. Ben’s boat also collected 18 all-time wins with drivers Mike Campbell, Craig Mullen, David Newton, Nelson Holmberg and Jerry Dunlap on the wheel. The high point for Ben was 2011 when Campbell and Holmberg combined on the driving duties to score five wins. Ben won the season points championship in 2011 (14,119 points) and again in 2012 (11,989 points). Dunlap (2019) and Holmberg (2012) each won one Gold Cup for Ben. With a total of 18 race wins, his Hawaii Kai III is fourth place on the ERCU career race wins list for vintage hulls.
Ben was also the founder of the ERCU Jack Regas Memorial. His passion for the Hawaii Kai and everything about it was admirable, and when he saw the opportunity to create a memorial race for his favorite driver, Ben moved on it and the club continues to run the Jack Regas Memorial annually. After Regas passed away in early 2014, Keller requested permission from the ERCU Contest Board to change the name of the event to the Jack Regas Memorial, in honor of the one-time Hawaii Ka’i III driver, who had not only met with Keller to see his models of the “Pink Lady”, but also followed the boat’s seasons in ERCU and ESU.
In ESU, Ben’s 1/7 scale 1958 Hawaii Kai III was clearly the cream of the crop. Ben scored a total of 60,233 points in the club’s six seasons, including points championships in the first two years. Perhaps even more impressively, the second place vintage boat in ESU all-time points standings is just over 14,000 points behind Ben’s boat. Ben’s boat also won 18 races in ESU.
By his own choice, Ben never drove his own boats in competition, and only rarely did he drive one of his boats. It was his joy to own, and work on, his boats and allow others to drive them.
Ben also was a long-serving member of the ERCU Board of Directors and the ESU Board of Directors. His statistics once even included not just season and career points, race wins, etc., but also in-depth coverage of as much as a ranking of heat efficiency statistics every season. He would update the document after each race. Ben also gave a significant portion of his time to Unlimiteds Unanimous, where for years he helped produce the Unlimited Newsjournal.
More information will be shared from the family and ERCU will update its membership as there is more to share.