SWANSBORO, NC – “Big Jim” Kelley is an icon in the Eastern North Carolina racing scene with 197 career victories. Now, Kelley has a brand new Late Model and is ready to get back in the saddle as he heads to Carteret County Speedway in 2016.
Kelley, 51, from Newport, North Carolina has won championships at East Carolina Motor Speedway in Robersonville, Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, Wake County Speedway in Raleigh and the now-defunct Wilson County Speedway in Wilson and Wayne County Speedway in Pikeville. Along with those North Carolina tracks, Kelley has won championships at Volusia County Speedway in Florida, when the track was asphalt, and the now-defunct St. Augustine Speedway in Florida.
This year, things will be different for Kelley. Most of his success has been in Super Late Models. Now, Kelley’s iconic number K7 will be on a Late Model Stock Car, which Kelley says is a difference of 225 horsepower and close to 300 pounds of weight. Kelley tested at Carteret County Speedway on Saturday.
“We’re gonna run a little bit with Carteret County Speedway, see what’s going on with these Late Model things,” Kelley said. “Just don’t have the power we’re looking for.”
Kelley is excited to go racing again and at a facility that is close to home.
“I like the driving track for sure,” Kelley stated. “It’s a new facility, it’s like 15 minutes from my house and I’ve traveled 100 miles to the closest track all my life, so, got one right in my backyard. We couldn’t resist it. We tested in December but, Bobby Watson did a heck of a job on the track. It’s a very nice facility. It’s gonna be a real nice track to race on.”
Kelley retired from racing when Super Late Models were replaced by the Late Model Stock Cars and has spent the last three years taking care of his grandfather, who passed away at the age of 102 on December 2, 2015.
“Oh yeah, we’ve missed a lot. I’ve been taking care of my granddad for the last three years when we weren’t running. That kind of kept me busy but I had to do what I had to do. He’s passed now so we’ll get back in a little bit and try it again. He was fully into the racing with us.”
The green flag will fly on the 2016 season at Carteret County Speedway on Saturday, April 2nd.
-Carteret County Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Andy Marquis/Carteret County Speedway