eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month – November 2015 – Hunter Kelly
Kelly beats the odds to claim S5 Junior Stock Moto SuperNationals XIX victory in Las Vegas
In a continued effort to highlight the many outstanding performances by drivers around the country, eKartingNews.com is proud to introduce the ‘Driver of the Month’ program. Each month, the staff at EKN will determine the one driver who stood out above the rest and give the viewers a chance to know exactly what they accomplished and who they are.
The 2015 Superkarts! USA SuperNationals was among the most memorable events in its 19-year history. 2015 marked the first time the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino played host to nearly 500 drivers from around the world. The headline categories did not disappoint, with emotional victories by American Gary Carlton and Louie Pagano. Carlton claimed his first SuperNats victory since 2006 in the KZ2 category and Pagano came from outside the top-10 to clinch the TaG Senior championship with a victory on SuperSunday, his first as a Senior driver since 2011. Danny Formal dominated the entire week in the S1 division for his first ever SuperNationals triumph. Heading into the weekend, the odds were in the favor of Callum Smith taking the victory in the S5 Junior division. Hunter Kelly had other ideas as the long shot came out of SuperSunday as the big winner.
Kelly completed his first season in the S5 category in 2015. The 2012 SKUSA Pro Tour TaG Cadet champion was unable to defend his crown in 2013, and was among the top rookies in TaG Junior during the 2014 season. This year, Kelly made the move over to the S5 division to help challenge his driving ability and help grow as a racer. At the California ProKart Challenge, Hunter finished vice-champion behind the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour point leader Callum Smith, finishing with a victory at the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix. Kelly took that success and momentum into the SuperNationals.
Hunter was among the quickest drivers during the seven rounds of practice when the SuperNationals XIX began. He confirmed the speed in qualifying, edging out the competition to earn the fast time and pole position for the three heat races. Kelly slipped back to third in the opening heat race and finished fourth as the rest of the field was getting quicker, while Hunter pace was not. The Leading Edge Motorsports crew went to work overnight Friday to get Kelly ready for the final heat race. The adjustments worked as Hunter led all 12 laps of Heat #3 for the win, putting the 14-year-old third on the main event grid.
SuperSunday warm-up saw Kelly post the fast time, ensuring the changes continued to help. Inside row two, Hunter was quick off the grid when the lights went out to begin the 20-lap event. Kelly leapfrogged Evan White and newly-crowned champion Callum Smith. Kelly established a solid lead, posting his quickest lap on the third circuit, nearly breaking the 51-second mark. He kept the pace of his Praga near that mark, about one or two tenths off each lap and extending his lead with every leap. When the checkered flag waved, Kelly scored his first ever SuperNationals victory by 1.7 seconds over Smith.
Kelly’s victory helped to move him into the vice-champion position in the final standings for the SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour. Hunter will hold the SKUSA #2 plate for the trophy mantel as he plans on moving up to the S2 Semi-Pro division for 2016, both at the California ProKart Challenge and SKUSA Pro Tour levels.
November 2015 EKN Driver of the Month – Hunter Kelly
Born: July 9th, 2001
Hometown: Elk Grove, CA
Parents: Shannon & Tricia Kelly
Height/Weight: 5’3″ / 111lbs
Education: Albiani Middle School
Chassis: Praga Dragon EVO
Engine/Engine Builder: S2 Pinzini Race Engines/ S5 LeadingEdge Motorsports
Sponsors: Greg Bell Leading Edge Motorsports, Action Machine & Welding Inc., Mike Merri ClearPlex, Pacific Coast Building Products, Sacramento Canvas Experts, Advanced Gases, Gamma Rebar, Pinzini Motorsports
Series You Compete In: SKUSA Challenge ProKart Challenge, SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour
Years Karting: 9 years
How did you get started in karting? Brad & Troy Buckman introduced me to karting at Prairie City
What has been the high point in your racing career? Going to Italy to race the Rok Cup as a Cadet and winning the SuperNationals XIX this Year in S5
What are your goals in racing? To some day race F1 or V8 Super Cars
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Smooth and determined to win.
Funniest moment at the race track? I was Kingsmen Kart Track in Dixon practicing and my wheel flew off, I did a 360 and my tire almost bounced into the lake.
Favorite Track: Simraceway Performance Karting Center / Prairie City
Favorite form of professional motorsports: F1 & Open Wheel
Favorite karting driver: Gary Carlton
Favorite professional driver: Dan Wheldon
Favorite website: YouTube
Favorite movie: Rush & Talladega Nights
Favorite actor/actress: Will Ferrell
Favorite music/group: Rock, Pop, R&B
Favorite vacation/activity spot: Lake Tahoe
Favorite food: Pizza
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? I’m on the wrestling team, homework, spending time with my friends and family, snow boarding
What are your goals outside of karting? Go to college for engineering
What type of street car do you drive? I don’t have a license
What type of street car would you like to drive? Dodge Truck
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? Bullying
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? Unity between local tracks to help improve the karts counts, as well as, drivers who have succeeded at the higher levels taking the time to help out the new younger drivers so that they can learn and succeed in a sport we all love.
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? Spending time with my family, meeting new people, traveling to some very awesome tracks. Not to mention the exhilaration of the speed and the competition.
November 2015 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
– Gary Carlton: SKUSA SuperNationals XIX – Winner (KZ2)
– Danny Formal: SKUSA SuperNationals XIX – Winner (S1)
– Jimmy McNeil: SKUSA SuperNationals XIX – Winner/Champion (S4)
– Louie Pagano: SKUSA SuperNationals XIX – Winner/Class Champion (TaG Senior)
– Mathias Ramirez-Barrero: 2015 Rotax Grand Finals – Second place (Junior Max)
– Luke Selliken: 2015 Rotax Grand Finals – Second place (Senior Max)