HUNTSVILLE, Texas — There's an old adage about having to compete every week if you want to win races. They say if you don't get frequent seat time, you can't get dialed in like those who compete weekly and you'll basically just be spinning your wheels.
Yet for 36-year-old Hobby Stock racer, songwriter and business entrepreneur Kenny Montgomery, that's just not true. Affectionately known as K-MO in racing circles, Montgomery has only raced eight times in 2023, but has four wins and six top-five finishes. When he shows up, he's a heavy favorite.
“I don't race full time, but I have raced four weeks in a row now,” Montgomery said. “I had one of those old-school guys out of the Grandstands tell me he would pay me $1,000 a week to outrun Nathan Renfro, a local driver with a rather surly reputation.
“So I've been there every week since,” he explained. “Everybody asks me why I waited until it was 105 degrees outside to come race. I just tell them I like it that hot. Our track gets really rubbered up and dry slick. I've got a Crate motor with a really tall gear ratio; so I'm not spinning my tires like all the others.”
Now in his 19th year of racing, Montgomery has driven just about everything under the sun.
“I got my start back in 2003 in the old bomber division,” he explained. “I got my first win on Opening Night of the 2004 season. So I've been doing this for close to 20 years. We used to get 50 cars a night in that class; so there were C and B Mains every week. I didn't run in an A Main for quite a while.
“Then I moved up to the Hobby Stock class; raced a little bit in the Street Stocks, then I got into the Limited Modifieds, racing those on both dirt and asphalt. I buy and sell a lot of cars, so my racing schedule isn't like everybody else. I've raced a little bit of everything, even the Lone Star 600.”
Along the way, there have plenty of memorable moments.
“I would have to say my career highlight to this point was winning the Nolan Wren Memorial at Gator Motorplex in 2017. Nolan was a big Mini Sprint racer. We won that one with a last-lap pass, and that was probably the coolest wins I ever had. Not the biggest payday, but the one I remember the most.”
When Montgomery unloads that unique station wagon of his, he faces some pretty stiff competition.
“There are several fast guys in this division, it isn't easy to hit the podium,” he said. “Like last week, for example, when we had 27 entries. There are three or four guys who have won three or four features apiece. That's kind of what got me motivated to jump in there.
“My Dad is one of my biggest fans and supporters, and I told him if I put in the effort and time those guys are making every week, I know we could go out there and run with them. Most weeks, I just don't have the time to work in the shop. When I do, I definitely enjoy going out there to put on a show.”
As mentioned earlier, Montgomery is a businessman who's always buying and selling race cars.
“I'm into several aspects of the sport, from buying and selling race cars, to sponsoring teams and events at local tracks,” he explained. “KMO Racing is not just my race team, it's by business. In fact, I've already had several offers to buy this Wagon I'm driving now but it's not for sale. I'm keeping this one.
“I work had at what I do, because I figure if the sport can help sustain my own team, that's a plus. I also happen to enjoy people, talking racing and see them own a car they'll enjoy for years. And I support a lot of teams as much as I can because I want this sport to stay healthy. We're all in this thing together.”
Back in 2015, Montgomery wrote a song that drew attention all over the globe, literally overnight.
“It's kind of funny, really, because when we first uploaded that song, it was late at night here,” he said. “By the time I woke up the next morning, I had a request from a radio DJ in Australia to appear on his show. It went wild during the night 'Down Under,' and continued to blow up from there.
“Dirt Track Thing” ended up getting a lot more attention than I ever anticipated. I'm no rapper; in fact I'm into classic country music like so many others here in the Deep South. But I felt folks could relate to those lyrics, and we came up with a great hook and beat. It went over very well in all age groups.”
So here we have a guy in his 30s racing a rather unique-looking station wagon, singing a Rap song about our sport and winning features while competing only part-time. He's what you may call a unique commodity in our sport; one with high energy, the right attitude, and friends who respect his work.
“I may not race as often as most drivers, but I still love the sport and treasure every opportunity I do get to race,” Montgomery said. “I work hard to support our two boys, treat my customers right, and thank God I'm able to keep this busy. The sport has been kind to me, so I try to give back whenever I can.”
Along with his years of experience and unique (aka fast) race car, Montgomery has several supporters.
“I would first like to thank my friends and family for supporting all the unconventional things I do,” he said. “I owe a huge thank you to Brittney, Kade and Kolter for allowing me to spend countless hours in the shop; and I'll thank my friend EJ Fischer for turning wrenches during the week and on race day.
“I also need to Shane Sprinkle at S&S Fishing & Rental, Kennith Clayburg at KTC Doors & More; Jay Vinson with Ultimate Trailer Sales; Ryan Welch with All Clear Land Management; Kylar Smith at Twisted Technology; Justin Collins at J.C Septic & Construction; Dirt Defender, Supreme Vinyl Works, Velocita USA, Randy's Hobbies, Bailey's BBQ, #Team911, and Seals Hot Rod Shop.”
While he may have hit high gear a little late in the season, it's all wide open from here until late Fall.
“Right now it's looking like I'll be racing every weekend right through the middle of November,” he concluded. “We're running strong, have four wins now and are shooting for 10 by the time we quit. I really think that is attainable in the coming months. I'm having fun, and hope we can keep this going.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Daniel Regalado