Race car driver Dalton Kellett captured his first podium of the season at the Freedom 100 race held at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26 racing the No. 28 K-Line Insulators USA Inc. Mazda/Dallara IL-15 for Andretti Autosport.
The Kellett surname is well-known in the Highlands. He is the fifth generation of Kelletts including the late Glenn Kellett who had a cottage/home on Mountain Lake. His grandfather Glenn started the more than 400- employee strong company K-Line Group of Companies with one truck.
Kellett is in his sixth year of racing in the Mazda Road to Indy series a development series for IndyCar (North America’s top open-wheeled racing series).
Although he was edged out at the line by Aaron Telitz who made the pass after the final turn to the famous “yard of bricks” finish line the head-to-head battle to the line brought him back to when he was a child passionate and driven to a future in racing.
“I grew up racing go karts so I definitely was that kid in that time. Even before I started karting I had a passion for racing. When I was younger I’d play racing games. When I first got on a motorized vehicle at three years old my parents would set up a race course on the lakes in winter. It’s definitely something that’s been a part of my life for a long time” he wrote in an email.
Despite losing second to Telitz the solid finish is giving him and his team confidence for the rest of the season he said.
“Finishing third in the Freedom 100 definitely gives us a good shot of confidence for the next race at Road America [in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin from June 23 to 24]. We’ve had a quick car all season we’ve just not been able to really put top three results together. So it feels great to have a podium under our belt and build momentum for the rest of the year” he said.
His best finish prior to the race this season was a sixth place finish in Birmingham.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is home to the Indy 500 which is raced by drivers who compete in the Indy Car Series – one step up from Indy Lights. Kellett dreams of not just racing in IndyCar but also to race in the Indy 500. Last year Kellett and his team finished on the podium in the same race.
“It definitely builds my confidence racing on ovals and at IMS. Having back to back podiums at the Freedom 100 is a big accomplishment for us. I’m very happy with that. Knowing that between myself as a driver and working with the engineers we’re able to put a great car together it definitely reinforces my belief my goal of winning the Indy 500 is realistic.”
From July 14 to 16 he’ll be coming home to race in Toronto and expects many family and friends.
“Indy as far as crowds it’s the race with the most exposure of the year so it’s good preparation getting a good finish there. I feel the local pressure will be similar at Toronto” he said.
Off the track the Queen's University graduate helped to spearhead a STEM youth education program (science technology engineering and math). It helps inspire children to enter and study these fields. “Taking part in spreading awareness of STEM initiatives helps inspire students to pursue careers in science tech engineering and math. It helps show them that they can regardless of their backgrounds they can still pursue their academic goals and be successful” he said.
He adds his inspiration to pursue his degree in engineering physics came from his family.
“My father is an engineer my grandfather was an inventor that started a manufacturing business so seeing that drive for success using technical knowledge and innovation always made me want to go into those fields to be a scientist or something along those lines” he said.
Toronto is listed as his home. However much of his childhood was spent in Haliburton County at the
family cottage. When it comes to the Highlands he thinks of his family and his roots.
“My grandfather grew up in the area and my whole family is from there. So coming back to the Highlands and our cottage makes me think of family and all of the time spent with cousins and grandparents and uncles whether at my grandfather’s cottage or our ski home. As I’ve gotten older it’s my favourite place to relax and be with friends and family” he said.
This story has been corrected from its original version. The original said that this was Kellett's sixth Indy Lights. It is his sixth year in the Mazda Road to Indy series.