By Phil Whipple
RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo by: Beverly Banks
DUNCANVILLE, Texas — All across the Lone Star State of Texas, racers are spending their evenings in the shop, staring at the cars they wish they were out driving. The nation's current stay-at-home orders have put short track racing on hold, yet in a matter of weeks – not months, the green flag will fly again.
When it does, one young third-generation driver in north Texas will be striving to bounce back from a dismal 2019 season. For 24-year-old Scottie Kelton, driver of the No. 49K Sport Mod at Monarch Motor Speedway (MMS) and Big O Speedway, this year presents a chance to get things turned around.
“We had an engine blow up on us last year, and that really set us back,” Kelton said. “With my parents taking over the reigns at Monarch Motor Speedway, I found myself getting pretty involved in track prep and working for my Dad. It was a real eye-opener, and gave me a new perspective, for sure.”
Kelton's parents, Misty and Shannon, took on the task of running MMS and pulled off a successful 20-race season. They improved the facility, brought in some exciting tours for fans and rolled out the red carpet for their partners and customers in general. It's a family operation that sets the gold standard.
“I don't think a lot of people have any idea of what it takes to prepare a dirt track surface for a night of racing,” Kelton explained. “There are no set hours; it takes what it takes to work the track and get it ready to go. It's exhausting, yet also very rewarding when I hear compliments from my fellow racers.”
Along with helping his folks run MMS, Kelton tried to be competitive in Sport Mods, yet it was tough. In roughly eight or 10 starts during that painful 2019 campaign, there were only a few top five finishes.
“That was probably the first time we've ever struggled like that for an entire season,” Kelton added. “Losing that engine cost us the loss of at least five points races, and when we did get back out there, we had a deal where I had a right rear tire rubbing. I think I blew out like 12 of them before the finale.”
With that string of mechanical gremlins and engine woes behind him, a new chassis, hard work in the shop last winter and a fresh new start, Kelton says the goals for 2020 are pretty clear and simple.
“We just want to get out there, run all the Friday night points shows at Monarch, run every Saturday night at Big O, and maybe even try our hand at a few other places without mechanical issues. I'd like to see us knock out a ton of races, and put ourselves in a position to win. I'm confident we can do it.”
One reason for that optimism is a new chassis from Harris Chassis in Boone, Iowa. As builders of the 'World's Fastest Dirt Modified,' Harris has a reputation for excellence throughout the industry.
“We're pretty excited about that new chassis,” Kelton explained. “We put it together over the off-season and everything on it is brand new. We put a lot of work into it, but we also have a locally-built car that we run on Saturday nights. We put a new body on that one and freshened the engine. They're all ready.”
The 2020 season will be Kelton's third year back in the sport after graduating from college. He played football and baseball during his college years, and was very good at baseball.
As we discussed on these pages last year, no single racer can be successful in any division without dedicated people behind him. For Kelton, that support is all about family, one with a passion for and a solid background in short track racing.
“I have to thank my father for all he does for my racing program,” Kelton said with obvious pride in his voice. “I also have to thank my mother, my little brother Jordan, my Grandfather, Ron Kelton, who lets me keep my race car at his shop so we don't offend the neighbors here at home. That really helps.
“We have another man who will be helping us this year, Rusty Trevathan, and I really appreciate him coming on board. My little brother is a firefighter and comes when he can. Most times it's just me and Dad.”
Along with that small but loyal crew helping to keep him on track, Kelton is also blessed to have a handful of key marketing partners on board his program.
“I'm very fortunate to have several great companies support my efforts for 2020,” he explained. “I have to start by thanking my parents at Butler Services, Competitive Racing Services (CRS), my brother's business, Horseshoeing by Jordan, Ron Kelton at S&R Truck Repair, Jeff Irwin at Introspective Design, Rusty Trevathan at R&B Motorsports and Sunoco Race Fuels. I couldn't do this without their help.”
As we draw closer to the end of this often unsettling COVID-19 crisis, there is truly a light at the end of the tunnel. Despite these hard-to-follow 'Social Distancing' restrictions we all face, we're getting by. Next month, we'll all get back to the business of short track racing. For Kelton, it's a chance to shine.
“I think we're all ready to load our cars, head to the track and get back to our normal lives,” he said. “I'm ready to put that bad luck behind us, find some speed and get us a trophy. After missing most of last year, we want to shoot for a top-10 in points at both Monarch and Big O. We're getting geared up.”