How cool is it that Brad Keselowski is coming home to Michigan for Father’s Day weekend?
|Brad Keselowski at Michigan
Photo – Getty Images
In his teleconference this week, Keselowski reminds us how connected he feels to his home state and being around his family, still living near Michigan International Speedway.
Brad’s racing roots begin with his grandfather, John Keselowski, who raced motorcycles and snowmobiles and continue with his father, Bob Keselowski, a 1997 race winner in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series. Brad’s dad has also raced in NASCAR’s Grand National and ARCA series, winning the championship in 1989. Bob still ranks in the top 10 on ARCA’s all-time winners list. Brad’s uncle Ron Keselowski, competed in the Sprint Cup Series in the early ’70s. Brian Keselowski is Brad’s older brother and competes in NASCAR’s ARCA series. The two brothers grew up in Rochester Hills, Michigan around their dad and uncle’s successful racing careers.
Growing up in a racing family, it’s natural that Brad and his brother spent a lot of time at some of the region’s race tracks in and around Michigan. Toledo Speedway holds a lot of great memories for Brad, which led to a question during the teleconference about how the track may have fostered his development as a driver and what it means to come back to this area, his backyard and drive at MIS?
“Oh, I still have very fond memories of Toledo for sure. It’s one of my favorite tracks from growing up, and I attribute it a lot to my success as I’ve grown up and ran well at tracks like Bristol because of its similarities. So I miss running there, for sure.
“One day, I would like to do that again and have a shot at going down and running a couple of the big races they have got. I think they still have the Glass City 200 that they run there. I wish it wasn’t on a current Cup weekend or one year I might go down and run it. That track was very formative for me. I remember I think being five or six years old and being snuck into the pits in the trunk of an old car. Some of my early racing memories took place there and will always have a place near and dear in my heart. It’s a great track and I’m glad to be back in that vicinity, back in Michigan. Obviously, Toledo is in Ohio but it’s right on the border there, so we spent a lot of time in that area. It means a lot to be able to come back and race, and race with competitive teams like I have at Penske Racing. I feel very fortunate to be where I’m at in the sport right now, and it makes it all seem worth it, the sacrifices that you have to make as a kid to be a professional race car driver, whether that’s skipping the prom or not doing those other things with friends and taking that time to become the best race car driver you can, or the best racer, in case you don’t make it as a race car driver, being able to come back to Michigan with some success in the profession that I’ve chosen, is very rewarding and makes it all seem worth it, so it’s very gratifying personally.”
Photo – Wikipedia
Being part of a successful racing family at the various tracks in the region certainly influenced Brad’s career choice of becoming a professional racer.
When asked about his dad’s influence on his career and to share a couple of quick stories, Brad said, “Ironically, that’s where I was before I walked into this teleconference; I was spending some time with him. I was able to rent out a small little shop for him to work on some cars that he’s pursuing. He’s building this car to go to the bottom of the salt flats and he’s going to take my uncle. My dad and my uncle are both in their 60s now, and it’s my dad’s dream to go to Bonneville and run 235 in a Cup car. So he’s been building this car to go do it. I went down there and watched him; told a few stories. It’s interesting, because when I walk into a shop, I see all of the tools I grew up using, and of course they all look the same. It just brings back so many memories of what it was like growing up in Michigan with my dad, he was more than just my dad. He was a mentor and a boss.
“So it’s funny, looking back now, and how things have changed, how my life has grown and certainly he was a large part of the base that makes up who I am from the code that he taught me early on in life of work ethic, which I certainly didn’t inherit all of his work ethic. His work ethic is amazing, but the basics of it, I feel like I did; to the approach of where you don’t expect anyone to do anything for you, on the racetrack or off. Your success is in your own hands, and if you’re not successful, you don’t point fingers. You point it at yourself and say I need to work harder and I need to work smarter. I think I learned a lot of that approach to the sport from him, and like I said, that’s part of the fundamentals of my success.
“So I owe a lot that to my dad, and I have a lot of good stories; I could go on for a long time, I want to spare you guys from that. But certainly being stuffed in the back of that car into a racetrack, may not one he wants me to tell but it’s one that sticks out, and there’s a lot of those moments.
“…I look back at them and I think of how lucky I am to be where I’m at right now in this sport, and how he was certainly the leader in putting me in this position.”