2004 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee
Turbocharging is synonymous with performance. That is due in large part to the efforts and accomplishments of Bob Keller. A tireless advocate of turbocharger technology, Keller has perhaps done more to advance the acceptance of the technology than anyone else in the industry. At the same time, he has been a determined promoter of the performance aftermarket.
Upon graduating from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1960, Keller began his professional career working as an aerospace engineer for Grumman Aircraft (Northrop-Grumman). Around 1963, he decided to merge his technical knowledge with his love of performance. He formed a small moonlight company called Turbonics, Inc., and began to pursue performance turbo applications for automobiles.
Keller left the aerospace business in 1973 to pursue his “turbocharger dream.” He joined the Flagship Marine Corporation and, in short order, persuaded the company to join SEMA. Keller exhibited the company’s line of TurboNautic products at the SEMA Show in Anaheim that same year. That was the start of a long relationship with SEMA.
In 1978, after holding key positions with numerous aftermarket companies, Keller decided to make a go of it on his own. He founded Turbonetics as a manufacturer and distributor of special-purpose turbochargers. Keller guided the company from its humble beginnings in his garage to the multi-million-dollar business that it is today. He holds multiple patents and is an active member of the SAE. Keller also has been published extensively in a variety of trade magazines and is a technical contributor to the NHRA. He sold Turbonetics in 1999 to Kelly Aerospace, where he still serves as a consultant and President Emeritus.
Keller’s ongoing efforts to educate consumers and the industry about the technical advantages of turbocharger technology are matched only by his efforts to promote the performance aftermarket. He served on multiple SEMA committees and task forces and chaired the Management Committee, the Environmental Strategic Planning Committee and the WD of the Year Committee. In addition to playing major roles in the formation of the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council and Sport- Compact Council, he served on the Select Committees of both. Keller served two terms on the SEMA board and was one of the original members of the SEMA/Ford Technical Initiative Task Force.
As chair on the Environmental Strategic Planning Committee, he authored the Voluntary Product Identification Program for emissions-sensitive products in 1993. His hard work on emissions and regulatory issues earned him yet another accolade, the prestigious SEMA Person of the Year award in 1993. Additionally, his continual recruiting of new SEMA members earned him several Ambassador awards.
Known as an avid hot rodder from the beginning, Keller’s passion for the performance aftermarket not only led to his own unprecedented success but undoubtedly benefited the entire industry as well.