Interviews

CATCHING UP WITH…… Jeremy Kelly

With three feature victories and 11 heat wins, Jeremy Kelly put together a stellar season at Peterborough Speedway en route to being crowned the 2022 Mini Stock Champion. SHORT TRACK MUSINGS recently caught up with the multi-generational racer to discuss the success and more.

1. What are your thoughts looking back on the championship season?

I felt very proud, for sure; I think about how much joy my Grandpa would have had seeing both my brother and I race. I love seeing how well my brother has done and how this is very much a ‘get-together’ for our family every Saturday night.

There was a load of drama this season; friendly fire and close competition, a wild dericho, a wreck at the track and of the track in the same week, I popped out many dings through the 30 top-three fnishes, 11 heat wins, 3 feature wins, ‘top-ten in points’ shootout race win and many litres of octane 94 burned up. It was a great season.

2. What was your favourite moment?

My favourite moment of this season was definitely the Aug. 13th evening of racing at Peterborough Speedway. After battling-it-out over 9 weeks of racing, I was in a very tight points battle. I think we were all within 5-10 points of each other for the top 5, but I was slightly ahead.

In the first lap of the frst heat race, I was heading in through turn three and four, hanging it wide to try and overtake on the outside when a competitor just lost it and spun sideways right in front of me. I hit the brakes and slid hard into his driver side tire. I heard a good pop, the hood folds up, and my rad began to smoke. I got out of the car to inspect, and unfortunately it was gibbled, so I was thinking my night might be over.

As I pulled my car into the pits, there was about ten or fifteen people rushing to the car with every tool known to man. They’re ripping of the mangled front bumper, sawing at the crash bar, the rad support and cutting it clean of. Tubby was even stomping the hood fatter beside the car. As people were tending to the car, I grabbed a spare rad and some water. The cage was tough and took so much of the impact, which thankfully kept the motor intact, keeping the front end relativity straight. It seemed like everyone in the pits had rallied around me and the broken car.

With the water burping in the zip-tied mounted rad, we went through a roll of duct tape and rivets to cobble the front end together. The support I received was was seriously overwhelming and the fact we were able to make it in the next heat race was just amazing. My adrenaline was at an all time high, but I went out and somehow channeled that wild energy into a heat win.

Afterwards, we looked over the car again. Somehow it was still sound and holding water, so we redid the toe, and added a couple more zip ties and got in line for the feature race. I raced well, the adrenaline was wild and we won it!

From potentially losing the points lead – to thinking the hope of winning it all had faded… Having my friends and fellow racers rally around us to help fx up the car and winning the next two races that night (which ultimately helped me hold down the points lead for the remainder of the season) I felt the love in our little racing community and the whole night was a bit surreal.

3. There are several heavy hitters at Peterborough that others around the province may not realize. What is the competition like at the patch?

The best part of this competition is, that hell, it really does keep you sharp and on your freaking toes. Every damn Saturday, when it was time for the Mini Stock feature, it was nerve racking and a bit nauseating but very exciting. Each Saturday night, it could have been anyone’s race. You’ve got the legendary four-banger racer, Tyler Junkin, slamming on your bumper, quarter, door, and every damn panel on the car. Then there’s Flyin’ Ryan Oosterholt, on a mission every time he turns left. Chris ‘Hood Pins’ Tubman, Ryan Edwards-Kiss, Ember Junkin, Kevin Strutt, Brock Baker, Shawn Soloman, Rob Crick or Nolan Gould are always in position to take the win as well.

4. What are your plans / goals for the upcoming season?

After my eighth season, and towing my whole family along for the ride by getting my brother and my step-Dad behind the wheel, I am taking a bit of a break from the 14 week racing schedule. It’s been so challenging and exciting through it all. I learned a heap about turning one way and made a bunch of life long friends too. I originally got into racing as a tribute to my late grandfather who raced stock cars locally in the late 1960s in the overhead class. Then I won my frst heat race in my frst season, got to see my brother race and do it very well, and then win four championships in the time I’ve spent at Peterborough Speedway. It’s been incredible. I’d like to get back into restoring several of the classic cars I have rusting away and spend more time running my 1/10th spec racing club, the PTBO R/C Chump Series that I
am having such a time with.

5. What sparked your original interest in racing?

I think there were just forces in the world that weren’t going to allow me to miss out on racing. Things like my Dad buying me 50 Hot Wheels for my frst birthday, even our family outings consisting of lots of laps at the local go-kart tracks, and the cherry on top was my Grandfather (Doug Reid), Uncle (Paul Kelly), and Cousin (Reg Woodbeck) raced at Peterborough Speedway before me. Throughout my childhood my Mom, Step-Dad, Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Joe would bring us kids to the track a lot. I mean, it was kind of inevitable right?

I remember in the mid 1990’s watching racing at Peterborough Speedway and after the races, my Uncle Joe (who was driving trucks for Bryan Cathcart at the time) took us through the pits to meet my favourite driver, #71. Bryan sat me in his car and fred it up; it was the loudest and one of the coolest experiences up until that time in my childhood.

When I was 19, I made an attempt to put a car together for the enduro races at Peterborough Speedway. I gutted my frst car, an old Dodge Intrepid my Dad gave me. I bought the hood pins, fre extinguisher and a kill switch… very crucial items for said race car. I soon realized I didn’t have a welder, I had no automotive skills and I really didn’t know what the heck I was doing, so we ended up just scrapping the pipe dream… (for now).

It wasn’t until I had my career established, I was chatting again with my late grandfather who was telling me more of his old racing stories. This had re-ignited my need to race more than ever. I told him I would race, and he agreed it was a good idea, so I had that to stay accountable to.

Sadly I wasn’t able to get something into motion until after his passing, it was a “do it now or never” timing in my life. I went onto Kijiji and began searching for race cars, ready to go. I found one near Full Throttle Speedway that was raced at a reverse-enduro event. The odds were defnitely against me with the setup on the car but we sent it. My Dad and I went and collected that car, it was my ticket to the event.

Later that same week I got my family together to watch some good old racing at Peterborough Speedway, not knowing that the track was about half way through their season. Instead of meeting my family in the stands, I texted them that I was running late and told them to save me a seat! To my Moms horror and shock, she heard my name announced on the loud speaker for the starting line up of a bone stock heat race, heroically in this beater of a former grocery-getter!

I seriously could have barfed after the first race from all the nerves and turning left on repeat but hell, It was thrilling and I so badly wanted to relate to what Gramps was going on about earlier that year…

6. Do you ever see yourself trying out a different division?

I think in a pipe dream I would love to run a class like the Nissan Micra/Sentra Cup, turning left and right on a legendary track like Mosport (CTMP). But like most motorsports, it’s very expensive beyond the four-cylinder beater class realm of affordability at most local tracks. I felt like running go karts, bone stock, enduro and mini stock classes were much more then I could have dreamed of running in my lifetime. Even running those entry level classes full time, it’s so crucial to have support from sponsors and family.

7. What would be a piece of advice from you to those getting started?

I think you just gotta keep the bar low, don’t blame others when you don’t put the work in, be realistic, take notes from the faster guys, ask all the questions, stay humble, race folks how you want to be raced, take the car home after every race (especially when you get a good poke) and look it over, make sure your parts are in good shape, bushings are good, that things aren’t bent and you’ve got a fresh set of tires.

With keeping that bar low, you will always exceed your expectations if you work hard, invest in the right places, and race smart. You’ll at least rule out the variables that are in your control, since so many aren’t and anything really can happen in racing.

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