Dalton Kellett recently graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in engineering physics.
While the 21-year-old Stouffville resident is proud of his accomplishments in the classroom, he’s still in the process of taking another course far removed from the Kingston campus.
It has Kellett behind the steering wheel of an open-wheeled, single seat, high powered race car that can attain speeds near 255 km/hr.
All with the objective to some day put the pedal to the metal and compete against the likes of James Hinchliffe, Will Power or Juan Pablo Montoya, high profile drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
So far, Kellett appears to be earning passing grades racing in the Pro Mazda Championship Series.
Entering his second year in that circuit, Kellett’s best performance was a third at the Cooper Tires Winterfest championship.
Kellett would like nothing more than to make a return trip to the victory podium and has plenty of incentive when the Pro Mazda Championship Series will be a support event for the Verizon IndyCar Honda Indy race in Toronto this weekend.
It’s not every day Kellett has an opportunity to return home to race in front of immediate family and friends. He has familiarity with the 11-turn, 1.75-mile street circuit on the CNE grounds, having driven it in 2013 on the USF 2000 Championship series.
“Racing in front of the home crowd is a big honour,” Kellett said. “Most of my races are in the U.S. so it isn’t often that friends and family get to come to a race. So there will certainly be a big crowd. The racing at Toronto is always good so I know they will enjoy the weekend along with all the other fans there.”
Adding to Kellett’s enthusiasm is a new team he’s racing for this season under a group that’s been an icon in IndyCar racing, Andretti Autosport.
“My relationship with Andretti Autosport began with an off-season test, which we arranged after I contacted them after the 2014 season and expressed interest in joining their Pro Mazda team,” he said.
Acknowledging his skills behind the steering wheel were a major factor in their decision to bring him on board, Kellett’s background in engineering physics didn’t hurt either.
“At Andretti Autosport, my responsibilities are as a driver so I was brought on-board for my skills in that respect. That being said, my engineering background allows me to relate to race engineers on a more technical level and thus have a better understanding of the process behind developing a fast race car. So I believe that having a degree in engineering physics from Queen’s has improved my skills as a driver,” he said.
Around age four, Kellett raced small Sea-Doos with his friends on a lake at their family cottage. He turned to go-karts at 14 out of Goodwood Kartways, northeast of Stouffville.
“This is the same track where drivers like James Hinchcliffe, Paul Tracy, Ron Fellows, among others, got their start,” Kellett said.
“Racing karts took me all over Canada, the U.S., and even to Europe for a couple of races. My passion for racing grew all through karting.”
He jumped to cars, racing for a half season in the Ontario Formula Ford Championship in 2011, then in the Mazda Road to Indy, a development system for IndyCar where he progressed from the USF2000 series to Pro Mazda.
He hopes to move up to Indy Lights.
“I am pleased with the progression the team and I have made this year. We had a very strong start to the year, finishing third in the Cooper Tires Winterfest championship.
“There have been a couple of hiccups along the way but our car is very strong and so I am confident with our pace moving forward,” he said.
“My aspirations in racing are to be successful in the IndyCar Series and compete in and win the Indy 500.”