While their recent American racing debut was a huge learning curve, Keen brothers, Daniel and Michael, each came away with some pleasing results, along with invaluable experience going up against some of the best drivers on the West Coast.
Launching their campaign in California at the beginning of July, the next month saw Daniel complete a total of 16 shows, while Michael completed just one less with 15, including the six-round Northwest Speedweek Series which took place in parts of California and Oregon. Although the brothers were faced with numerous challenges, they managed to be competitive, achieving some encouraging results.
Piloting the ex-Rico Abreu-owned Aus # 16 machine, powered by an ex-Brian Brown engine, Daniel managed to reach the podium in the Pit Stop USA Winged 360s A main at Petaluma Speedway, placing third; however, his biggest personal highlight occurred during the Sprintcar Challenge Tour at Stockton 99 Speedway in California. Coming from seventh in the B main to run second, Daniel went on to start the A main towards the rear of the field, powering forward to run just outside of the top 10, until experiencing a DNF.
“Stockton 99 Speedway is a mixture of the Perth Motorplex and Valvoline Raceway (Sydney), so it was a little more familiar to me than some of the other tracks, which definitely played a part in what I was able to achieve there,” said Daniel.
“Overall, there were a lot of challenges throughout our campaign, including differences between shock packages and things like that, but it was a really enjoyable trip for us and we definitely came away with a lot more knowledge and experience.”
For Michael, his best result came at Sunset Speedway Park in Banks, Oregon, where he became the first ever Australian to finish an A main within the top five in a Northwest Speedweek Series round aboard the USA # 5V car, owned by Californian residents Jim and Annette Vanlare.
Unfortunately for Michael, his American campaign didn’t quite end the way he had hoped, as he was involved in a crash at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California, which resulted in a minor shoulder injury, forcing them to forego contesting the Knoxville 360 Nationals at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.
Planning to return to California next month, the Keens Race Team will contest the annual Trophy Cup at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway, which will take place over three nights from October 19-21, with drivers contesting an A main on each night of competition. The overall Trophy Cup winner is set to receive a $20,000 payday for their efforts.
With plans for their 2017-18 season in Australia not yet set in stone, the Bunbury, WA-based team will potentially contest the Australian Title at the Perth Motorplex and Western Australian Title at Manjimup Speedway.
Keens Race Team would like to thank the following sponsors for supporting their maiden American racing tour: Dynamite Dan’s Cleaning Services, Keens Driver Training, Keenquip Race Gear, United Oil, Monster Graphics, and D&R Machining. Special thanks go to Jim and Annette Vanlare, their mum and dad, Heather and John, and their grandparents, Paul and Kaye, who they wouldn’t have been able to do half the shows without.
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