Weekly Racing Heroes: James Kelso


James Kelso

Weekly Racing Heroes will be a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com throughout the 2019 racing season. These pieces will focus on drivers in east Tennessee who race on a weekly basis at the tracks of this region. Here, drivers will answer three questions that will provide fans with a look into the lives of their favorite weekly competitors. 

Driver: James Kelso 

Hometown: Maryville, Tenn.

Class: Sportsman Late Model and Steelhead Late Model 

James Kelso has been a fixture around east Tennessee’s tracks for years. And it doesn’t take long when having a conversation with the 39-year-old driver to see why that is. This is a man who truly loves racing and does all he can to make the sport better.

What got you started in racing?

“When I was four years old I was working on my uncle’s dragster here at 411. To keep me standing still, they had a little water jug to spray on the radiator and that’s where it all started. In the mid to late 1980’s we went dirt track racing with James Price then we built our own cars and he quit racing and I started racing. I’ve been doing this my whole life. I started at Smoky Mountain in the Mini-Stock division in 2003. I got Rookie of the Year in 2004 and Sportsman of the Year in 2008 and Sportsman of the Year in 2013.”

What is the goal you want to achieve in racing?

“Realistically we’d like to be self sustaining and do it for fun. We do it for family and we’re bringing the next generation up. My nephew is 14 and he’s going to be in a Street Stock this year. We just want to go racing with the family and have fun and have a little success here and there.”

What keeps you coming back week after week?

“The absolute love of the sport. The people, the fun, all the way down to the hot dogs at the concession stand. I broke my neck in 2015 and I got more help and more support from my racing family than I did my own family. That tells me right there who family really is.”

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