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IndyCar off-track hero didn’t know he needed

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The negative reaction of a select few to Lewis Hamilton’s various human rights campaigns and Sebastian Vettel’s climate change warnings show that there is still a large ‘keep sport out of politics’ crowd that is not ready for your heroes talk about difficult topics.

In America, things are so finely charged. It’s easy to forget if you live in Europe, but some counties and local governments in the United States have populations as large as some of the countries you may live in, not to mention how large they are geographically.

IndyCar has made great strides in becoming a more tolerant place and has been doing its bit for the future of humanity in recent years.

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In 2020, he established the Race for Equality and Change initiative, which helped put African Americans Myles Rowe and then Ernie Francis Jr on the USF2000 and Indy Lights grids respectively in 2021 and 2022.

She also helped fund the women-led Paretta Autosport team which has made a huge impact in helping to show young women that they are accepted and can make motorsports a home. And all of that came from the initiative of the series owned by Roger Penske.

However, while there are some very sensible drivers in the paddock willing to talk about difficult topics, there is no immediate comparative figure with Hamilton or Vettel.

Or at least there hasn’t been, until now that is.

AJ Foyt Racing driver Dalton Kellett doesn’t have the resume of those mentioned above, but he has recently taken some very serious trouble into his own hands.

Perhaps most notably, he spoke about gun laws in the United States, something many drivers and teams have not done over the years, perhaps for fear of alienating fans and sponsors, after the school shooting. Uvalde in Texas last month.

Kellett was the first of a handful of IndyCar drivers to speak out on this subject, and the fact that he did so during the biggest weeks of the year for the series in the lead up to the Indy 500 is significant.

“My rule for talking about controversial topics is that I share opinions on things when, if I post something, it’s something I morally believe in,” Kellett, 28, tells The Race.

“And if a fan sees that and doesn’t like me anymore, that’s something that doesn’t feel like a loss. And I’m not trying to sound superior, but the topics I’m going to be expounding on are other things that I strongly believe in.

“I think there is always a risk in that.

“But I think what we’ve seen with the Uvalde stuff, and talking about gun control and all of that, seeing just the reception, even in the paddock for the IndyCar Pride Month initiative, and I think there’s a lot more appetite and acceptance for us to be more open about these things.

“Just look at Vettel in Formula 1.

“I think a page is being turned, whether it’s generational or just our perception of the demographics of racing. I think initially, in years past, I probably overestimated the risk of doing such things.

“I guess as you get older, you also stop caring about what people think.”

When he found out about Uvalde, Kellett was with his AJ Foyt teammates visiting a pediatric ward set up through his fiancée, which only added to the pain he and his teammates felt over the situation.

After speaking about gun control laws, a fan bought an item from Kellett’s online store and left a message in the comments section saying that he bought it because of his campaign.

Kellett took the idea and followed through, offering to donate all proceeds from merchandise purchases through his website to the victims of the Uvalde shooting, and soon after his sponsor K-Line Insulators and AJ Foyt Racing offered to match the total.

“For the most part, I think the biggest turnout was around the Uvalde shooting with the fundraiser we were doing,” Kellett explains.

“And that part of this was really important, it wasn’t just being out there tweeting and saying things, I wanted to try to do something good and use the platform in a way to help these families that were obviously affected by a horrible shooting, right.

“It was important for me to really contribute because it’s easy to say things. To really put your money where your mouth is, right?

In all, the group raised $11,400, with Kellett share screenshots from the backend of your website to demonstrate the amount. If you have the idea that Kellett is a completely nice guy, you’d be right.

Dalton Kellett Miller Light Carb Day by James Black Large Image Without Watermark M59412

“Just in a matter of days, all those orders and donations came in probably two and a half days,” he adds.

“It wasn’t like, I didn’t really promote it a lot, it grew organically, but we were in the middle of the Indy 500.

“So I didn’t really spend too much time with him, it was more after the fact and I committed to him.

“But I actually do all the fulfillment on my website, so I spent a couple days packing and shipping orders and getting everything out of Detroit early.

“It was a busy Monday after 500!

“All the jerseys, all the diecasts, it showed up and basically it’s a spare room in my house, it was full of boxes.

“There were some orders that I had to do after Detroit. I ran out of boxes and supplies for shipping!”

Kellett spent over £1000 of his own money on postage during the period the fundraiser was ongoing, as well as making the simply brilliant image of an IndyCar driver by literally packing up all of his fan merchandise and being the one doing the intensive work. part of it

It wasn’t the first or the last time he spoke about topics that meant something to him. Both IndyCar’s LGBTQ+ campaign and mental health awareness efforts have gotten the Kellett treatment on Twitter.

He had already endeared himself to the IndyCar paddock in a significant way with the use of his TikTok, where one of his videos has over two million views.

Kellett graduated from Queen’s University in 2015, with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics. He is a STEM advocate and has now brought his love of engineering to social media, where he regularly explains how the different parts of an IndyCar work, sometimes using his trusty blackboard.

“I thought a bit about our approach to social media and what each platform represents, right?” Kellet explains.

“I looked at TikTok and created the account maybe in the middle of last year and did a couple of silly things, a little bit with Poppy. [his dog] and just silly videos, I really didn’t put much effort into that.

@dalton_kellett

Quote me: @indycar is actually faster than @F1 🤷‍♂️ #indycar #indy500 #f1 #formula1 #drivetosurvive

♬ original sound – Dalton_Kellett

“I wasn’t quite sure how it fit into the whole thing.

“I started looking at other educational and STEM accounts and following them and seeing what they were doing and realized you can really build your own niche with the way that algorithm works.

@dalton_kellett

Reply to @eeehstalker for a bit of both. Over the years I’ve learned when to wear the engineer’s hat and when to just put my foot down and be a driver #indycar #indy500

♬ original sound – Dalton_Kellett

“So the initial idea was basically to do a Monday series, highlighting something technical or some aspects of IndyCar racing.

“From the beginning, it took off pretty aggressively and then it split into a few different things, like Indy Monday, which highlights a clean technical aspect of the race car.

@dalton_kellett

Reply to @hey_1ts_j there are a lot of things we changed between the road course and the super speedway! Here’s a quick overview #indycar #indy500

♬ original sound – Dalton_Kellett

“And then throughout the week, as I could, I did more deep dives into the engineering stuff like physics and dynamics, a little blackboard and all that.

“So the idea of ​​doing it was planned, but how it evolved definitely wasn’t!”

It’s a fantastic initiative that gives fans a real sense of how an IndyCar works when the series itself does very little of it these days.

It would be remiss to cut the show short without mentioning Dalton Kellett, the careers driver, because much of the attention this year has been on his social networks or campaigning for various causes outside the circuit.

Testing Dalton Kellett Iowa Speedway by James Black Reference image without watermark M62969

Kellett made a partial season of IndyCar in 2020, jumping off the back of four full seasons in Indy Lights where he failed to crack the top six.

In 2021, Kellett ranked 23rd in points in his first full season with a best finish of 12th at Gateway, but still, he’s one of a handful of drivers entering the series post-pandemic, where testing at a IndyCar are in short supply, and their team operates on a shoestring budget without some of the big departments that the biggest teams boast of.

Kellett added former Penske and Ganassi race winner Ryan Briscoe as driver coach this year and posted an all-time best qualifying finish of 14th on the tricky St. Petersburg street circuit.

“I think the overall relationship is really great,” Kellett says of working with Briscoe.

“Complementary personalities and approach, we are both calm and analytical guys.

“And I think this is probably one of the first times that Ryan is really coaching drivers, so he’s become more forthright about telling me what I need to hear and everything that’s developed in that kind of relationship.

“So it’s been a good thing.”

Dalton Kellett Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America by Travis Hinkle Reference image without watermark M62477

Who knows what Kellett could accomplish on a bigger team with more testing. Some will say that Kellett is only in the series because of funding from his family business, but he approaches the amount of funding he receives with enthusiasm and a quest for knowledge that sets him apart from other drivers.

And without the funding associated with Kellett, Foyt might only be able to run one or two cars each season.

That could be another way Kellett is helping people. He seems to be extremely good at it.

Like all sportsmen, he will focus on improving his own craft in a bid to move up the grid and establish a long-term future in IndyCar.

But off the track, he has to be the IndyCar MVP for 2022 so far.

sniloans