Dennis Michelsen · Tuesday October 11, 2005
Turn back the clock a few years, and the only place you would see a 13-year-old kid racing was at the arcade! But today, these young guns are getting younger all the time. Introducing Alex Kennedy from the tiny town of Aztec, New Mexico. This kid might only be 13, but he is a cagey veteran, having started his auto racing career at the ripe old age of eight in quarter midgets. But if you think this is going to be the same old story of the "Little League" Dad pushing the bratty "Natural" to do more and more, faster and faster, then think again.
At the track, Kennedy is quickly making a name for himself. Sporting the number 61 in honor of his favorite driver Mark Martin, Alex has driven his Legends Series cars to first place in points in both the “Young Lions” (Under 16) and Semi-Pro (Under 40) divisions. Beating drivers twice his age on a weekly basis, Alex clearly has the talent and intelligence to be successful both on—- and off—- the track.
This is a family that has their priorities straight. If Alex doesn’t maintain “Honor Roll” level grades, then he doesn’t get to race. But what started out as just a father-son hobby is quickly turning into a future ambition. When you are an instant success at every level of racing, why not dream big of being a NASCAR driver someday, …and maybe someday soon!
“Alex is a very analytical kid,” says his proud Dad Terry. “He thinks things ahead and sees things happen. Before one race, he told me he listens to the different drivers’ motors during practice. That way, he knows who is coming up to race with him just by the sound the car makes.”
This is one proud Dad that has supported Alex any way he can, while always putting the important things first. “I am very big on safety. We have just about every gadget we can in Alex’s car, including a fire suppression system. You know you are a fanatic about safety when the people that make our seats know me by voice. Alex keeps outgrowing his seats!”
Alex is not just interested in racing. He is a winner in the classroom as well as on the racetrack, posting top grades. “My favorite classes last year were math and science,” says Alex. When asked about a future career, he had a quick answer.
“I think I want to study engineering for two reasons. First, it will help me understand my racing more, and it worked pretty good for Ryan Newman. If my racing career doesn’t work out, though, I will have my engineering background to fall back on.”
But it seems the smart money would be on Alex to succeed in racing. As he moves up from one level to the next, success still comes just as fast. His racing background on asphalt and dirt ovals, as well as road courses is giving him lots of seat time in Legends cars this year.
“I was always a stick-and-ball sport guy myself,” said Terry Kennedy. “When Alex moved up to quarter midgets we trucked the car in the back of a Chevy Suburban without a trailer to our first event. We only had one set of tires, but Alex did great. When he graduated to Legends cars, I knew I needed help. His crew chief, Robert Gayton, is a two-time champion, and can take Alex to the next level.”
“I like the Legends cars because it is more of a real race car. The speed is much faster, and I am learning to listen to the engine to know when to shift,” said Alex. “I am a little surprised by my success, but my crew chief has brought a lot of guys along. He is the main reason I am running good in the Legends (series). We practiced for three months before my first race.”
The most amazing part of Alex’s year is despite an incredible record in the series, he still might not win the championship, through no fault of his own. His opponents have not been able to slow him down, but the rules might! One of the last races of the season will take place at Infineon Raceway, which has imposed an age restriction this season. Alex Kennedy had two excellent events there last season as a 12-year-old, but now needs to be 16 to race at that exciting road course. But that won’t stop the youngster from pursuing his dreams; next year, Alex will attack the Legends series again, whether he wins the title or not. He will also do more testing in a Late Model car, and try his hand in the Late Model division at Sandia Raceway near Albuquerque.
These young guns get started younger and younger all the time. Look for Alex Kennedy coming soon to a track near you! Before you know it, he will be the next youngster you hear about signing a driver development contract with Roush or Hendrick. When he makes headlines with the big boys, you can tell everyone you heard about this kid on the Frontstretch!
|ALEX KENNEDY : 2005 RESULTS|
|TRACK||RACES||WINS||2ND||3RD||TOP 5s||TOP 10s|
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