While most consider an Engineering degree one of the safest bets for securing a job after graduation, few, if any, are taking the route of 2015 grad Dalton Kellett.
Holding a degree from Queen’s Engineering Physics program, Kellett signed a contract last week for his second season as a driver with Andretti Autosport. He’s moving up to the Indy Lights racecar series for the 2016 season, which holds its first races in March.
Kellett previously raced for Andretti last season in the Mazda Pro Championship, a step below the Indy Lights series.
The Andretti name is one of the most famous in all of racing sports, as the company takes its name from Mario Andretti, one of the most prolific American racers in history.
“When I first signed with them last year, there were times where I had to pinch myself a little,” Kellett said. “It’s a responsibility and a great honour to represent that name and to race for them.”
During his time at Queen’s, Kellett raced for various competitions, and spent his last two years in the Mazda Pro Championship. His schedule was already busy with racing and educational commitments, but Kellett was also heavily involved with Queen’s Formula Team,which designs and builds competitive racecars. While he had to head out to races and car testing often, he credits the university staff for helping accommodate his busy schedule.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of the professors at Queen’s,” he said.
“It was a lot to manage,” he said. “Right from first year I had to manage my time pretty diligently, making sure I kept tabs with the professors. I would talk to them at the start of the year, build a rapport with them so I’d be able to defer assignments or rework the schedule. All of them were
Kellett’s degree has proved useful in his chosen career path.
“There’s a lot of parallels of what you learn when you’re in engineering and the skills you gain,” he said. “Especially being involved with a program like the Formula Team, what you learn can be applied directly to racing.”
Growing up in Toronto, he knows racing isn’t the most popular sport in Southern Ontario.
However, he got into the sport with the help of his father’s interest and a family friend, who introduced him to competitive go-kart racing. Kellett raced at Goodwood Kartways as his home track. He was raced in Canada, the United States and in a few meets in Europe as a go-kart racer before making the jump to racing cars in 2011.
“That’s a whole different type of driving,” Kellett said, adding that the addition of racing for a team as opposed to representing oneself was also a big change.
“Unless you have a mechanic [as a go-kart racer], you do the work on the cars yourself, you’re sort of a jack of all trades. Then you get to cars … you’re just there to drive.”
When Kellett would meet new people around Queen’s campus, he wouldn’t typically reveal his distinctive career path initially.
“My usual approach is to say, I work in racing,” he said. “If they’re interested in racing, I’ll tell them I drive the cars. It’s a unique thing, you don’t meet a lot of people that drive racecars.”
After completing his degree, Kellett moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, “the hub of IndyCar racing” as he describes it. Kellett is able to do both physical workouts and work with the Andretti team, which is based out of the city.
Kellett has set his goals high, with ambitions to excel to the top of his field and reach the Verizon IndyCar series. However, on the short term, Kellett’s focused on his upcoming Indy Lights season.
“It’s a new car, new series. I want to learn that car, and do well there.”
Eventually, though, Kellett is pushing to be among the sport’s best with a victory in the sport’s most famous race.
“[For] every racer on the IndyCar path, the ultimate goal is to win the Indy 500,” he said. “That’s what I’m really
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