'It's definitely exhilarating;' Queen's University alum ready to race in the Indy 500
KINGSTON, ONT. -- It’s something auto racing fans have been waiting for since the pandemic hit. The Indianapolis 500 returns Sunday with fans in the stands.
Among the 33 drivers hitting the Indianapolis Speedway track this weekend is Queen’s University alum and graduate, Dalton Kellett.
Speaking with CTV News Ottawa, from his trailer at the stadium in Indianapolis, Kellett said he’s excited.
"It's definitely exhilarating," he says. "The start at Indy, especially, it is like nothing else."
Kellett is with the AJ Foyt team, one of the biggest's names in the sport of auto racing.
He says one of the things he loves most about racing is being a part of the crew itself.
"It's very much a team activity because it's not just the driver," he says. "You have the engineer, the pit crew, the support staff and everyone. So it's that combination of me perfecting the racing craft and everyone else on the team doing their jobs."
Gunning for victory is no joke, the 33 drivers' race at immense speeds, over 200 laps on a four-kilometre track.
Kellett says preparation leading up to Sunday is all about focus, precision and visualization.
"We're going at about 235 miles an hour, which is think 375 kilometres an hour or so. That's a football field or a soccer pitch in the blink of an eye. So you don’t have time to sit back and think, 'Wow, this is super cool.'"
The 27-year-old is originally from Stouffville Ont., in the York Region. He started racing Go-karts at 14 and then moved on to more competitive racing.
Kellett graduated from Queen's University with a degree in engineering physics in 2015.
But it wasn’t easy, he actually split his time studying for his degree on campus and attending classes, and flying to the United States to professionally compete.
Brad Diak is a Queen’s University professor in the mechanical and materials engineering department, and was one of Kellett’s professors.
"I don’t believe the guy ever slept. Ever," Diak told CTV News Ottawa. "And yet he still managed to pull off these amazing feats. Great grades."
Diak still keeps in touch with Kellett. He says he’ll be cheering him on in the race.
"Down to earth guy, when you’re dealing with him. Friendly, and yet inside him is that drive to excel and bring the best not just in himself but others as well," he says of Kellett.
When the green flag drops on Sunday, there will be a sold out crowd of 135,000 spectators. That’s the largest sporting event since the pandemic began.
While this is Kellett’s second time competing in the Indy 500, it’s his first time with fans in the stands due to last year's pandemic restrictions.
"The fans bring the life and soul to this event," he explains. "It feels a bit more like a normal year."
Kellett is hoping to make Ontario proud, and says it’s just an honour to be competing among the best.
"Growing up racing Go-karts and Ontario wouldn't really have expected to make it here," he says. "To be kind of in that group of drivers that have had the chance to compete here is just really cool. I have to pinch myself every now and then.”