eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month: February 2018 – Alex Keyes
NorCal transplant from Michigan doubles up in win column at Challenge of the Americas
Alex Keyes swept the Challenge of the Americas weekend at CalSpeed in the Rok Shifter Senior division (Photo: EKN)
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.
It is always great to see racers who move up the motorsport ranks come back to their roots of karting. The 2018 Challenge of the Americas is a great place for Red Bull GRC driver Alex Keyes to build up his racing stamina in preparation for what will be coming during the racing season. Keyes is a Pennsylvania-born, Michigan-raised driver who now calls California home. Alex worked his way up the karting ranks before making the transition to off-road racing a few years ago. He made his debut in the Rok Shifter Senior class at the Challenge in January to kick off the 2018 season. Keyes came away with two podium finishes at the Phoenix Kart Racing Association, putting himself as one to watch as the series went on.
February brought the Challenge back to the CalSpeed Karting Center in Fontana, California. A circuit Keyes last raced at in 2013, Keyes was quick out off the trailer setting the pace throughout Friday. He sat down with EKN during the ‘Happy Hour with Howden’ broadcast talking about his day and career to this point.
Saturday continued with Keyes at the top of the order, setting the pace in qualifying with a lap of 48.394 aboard his Alex Keyes Racing Birel ART to clear the field by two tenths of a second. Alex led all 17 laps of the Prefinal to remain on the pole position heading into the main event. He never put a wheel wrong, grabbing the hole shot to set the pace for all 25 laps around the CalSpeed circuit to earn his first career Challenge of the Americas victory.
Sunday was a very similar day, however, the pressure increased overnight. Keyes narrowly claimed the pole position in Round Two qualifying, posting a 48.288-lap to beat out Round Two winner Nicky Hays by 18 thousandths of a second. The two ran 1-2 in the Prefinal, retaining their positions from qualifying. The lead challenger altered in the Final with Hays retiring early, and veteran shifterkart driver Clinton Schoombee applying the pressure. For each and every lap in the Final, Schoombee was on the bumper of Keyes. The lap times for Keyes remained within two tenths of each other throughout the 25 laps, holding off Schoombee for his second victory of the weekend.
Keyes left CalSpeed as the championship leader in the Rok Shifter Senior class, entering the finale with a 20-point advantage over Round One winner Kol Bailey with Hays in third. The program now heads to Sonoma on April 13-15 and the Simraceway Performance Karting Center, where Keyes is among the driving instructors. Keyes’ future is still not confirmed yet for car racing, while he hopes to finish the Challenge with his first series title. Alex is set to continue karting this year, racing the Rok Sonoma presented by Sanzaru and other events in California along with the Rok the Rio in Las Vegas.
February 2018 EKN Driver of the Month – Alex Keyes
Hometown: Brighton, MI
Marital Status: Single
Education: College Student
Occupation: Automotive Instructor
Chassis: Birel ART
Engine/Engine Builder: ROK Shifter/PSL Karting
Sponsors: PSL Karting, WIX Filters
Series You Compete In: Challenge of the Americas, Red Bull GRC
Years Karting: 10
How did you get started in karting? In the parking lot at my elementary school!
What has been the high point in your racing career? Transitioning into cars and winning few Red Bull GRC races.
What are your goals in racing? To keep involved and make a living racing or instructing.
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Focused but ready to send it!
Funniest moment at the race track? All the funny comments under our AKR (Alex Keyes Racing) tent!
Favorite Track: Mosport Karting Track
Favorite form of professional motorsports: MotoGP
Favorite karting driver: Stepanova Nekeel on his $900 Tony Kart (Click Here)
Favorite professional driver: Aryton Senna
Favorite website: MotoGP.com or AlexKeyes.com
Favorite movie: Senna/Hitting the Apex
Favorite actor/actress: The whole cast of Wolf of Wall Street
Favorite music/group: The Rolling Stones
Favorite vacation/activity spot: Tahoe Snowboarding
Favorite food: Chinese, Thai, Sushi
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? Snowboarding, working or thinking about racing.
What are your goals outside of karting? Would like to move out and get an apartment.
What type of street car do you drive? Unitronic Stage 2 Volkswagen GTI
What type of street car would you like to drive? GMC Denali with a Duramax Diesel
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? I like all my stuff very clean and organized.
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? Inexpensive engine package that is a 2 stroke. (100cc)
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? I love that the driver makes such a difference, in a racecar the setup can be worth 1-2 seconds.
February 2018 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
– Kalvin Chen: Challenge of the Americas – 2 Wins (Rok Shifter Masters)
– Rod Clinard: SKUSA Winter Series – 2 Wins (S4 Super Master)
– Jake Drew: Challenge of the Americas – 2 Wins (Senior Rok)
– Caleb Gafrarar: Florida Winter Tour – Micro Rok winner
– Matheus Morgatto: Florida Winter Tour – Junior Rok winner
– Ryan Norberg: Florida Winter Tour – Senior Rok winner
– Logan Toke: Challenge of the Americas – 2 Wins (Mini Rok)
– Colin Warren: SKUSA Winter Series – 2 Wins (Briggs 206 Senior)