Canadian DALTON KELLETT has been waiting for this weekend’s race since he signed to drive an Indy car for A.J. Foyt in December, 2019. To say he is excited about finally getting to race in his hometown after two year’s of cancellations due to Covid-19 would be an understatement for the Torontonian. The 29-year-old was born in Toronto, and while his family moved to Stouffville when he was five, he commuted to attend school in Toronto until he went to Queen’s University in Kingston. His best finish at the track was third in the 2019 Indy Lights Series which became a highlight of that season.
How and when did you become interested in racing cars?
DK: “My interest in cars and racing started when I was a kid. I had my first taste of racing when I was just a couple years old, at my parents’ cottage. Some friends and I used to race little snowmobiles on the frozen lake when we were ~2. On top of that I think I inherited a love of cars from my Dad. I started racing go-karts when I was 13.”
What did you miss most about Toronto?
DK: “I most miss being close to family and friends. I have great friends in Indianapolis, but the last couple years have made it more difficult to return home to visit. Toronto is a very metropolitan and multicultural city, there’s so much to do and lots of great neighbourhoods to explore.”
Returning to Toronto after 3 years, what are you looking forward to the most?
DK: “I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to race IndyCar in front of the hometown crowd. The Toronto Indy is one of the best street circuits we race on and I can’t wait to experience it in this car. I think the fans and the city are very excited to have us back, it should be a great turn out.”
What has changed in your life since last raced in TO?
DK: “Quite a lot has changed. I got engaged to Nicole! We were still dating back then. I’ve also made the jump to IndyCar and bought my first house (in Indianapolis). 2019 feels like a long time ago…”
Dalton with his fiancée Nicole Westra at the Indy 500 awards dinner earlier this year. Nicole works in the healthcare industry.
For a first-time visitor, what are some Must Sees and Must Dos?
DK: “There are the classic tourist stops – like going up the CN Tower, catching a Blue Jays game at Rogers Center, or exploring the Distillery district. Toronto has some nice parks and neighbourhoods, Trinity Bellwoods/Ossington Avenue area, Kensington Market, Queen West, China Town, etc. There are plenty of museums and galleries. The Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Science Center are worth a visit. Toronto also has some famous music venues like Massey Hall, so maybe see if a band you like is playing.”
And what are your favorite restaurants there?
DK: “JaBistro, on Richmond, is one of my favourites spots for sushi. Just a short walk from the track, there are lots of great restaurants along Ossington Avenue.”
What is the secret to getting around Toronto?
DK: “I think Toronto in general, the secret is just leaving early enough to account for the traffic. (laughs) But getting around the racetrack, it’s a very bumpy track with lots of pavement transitions, so you have to tune the suspension and dampers to handle those well. You don’t want to bottom out excessively, but also can’t sacrifice too much ride height. A big part of the challenge is knowing how much bumpiness and movement from the car that you’ll just have to accept as a characteristic of the track versus what needs to be tuned out to get the mechanical grip you need.”
Kellett had his best qualifying run in St. Pete when he qualified 14th. He is hoping to do well in his hometown of Toronto.
How many K-Line associates will attend the race?
DK: “We will have at least a dozen directly from K-Line and 150 or so in total guests, between friends and family. So there’ll be lots of people were in those teal K-Line shirts, which is great to see.”
Dalton Kellett finished third in 2019 at Toronto in the Indy Lights Series event. He posed on the podium with the K-Line Insulators friends and family!
Is there more pressure on you because it’s your home track?
DK: “There is certainly more pressure or focus on you when it’s the hometown race. My approach will be to just take it all in and try to enjoy the weekend. It will be busy but that’s part of the fun.”
What would you consider to be a successful weekend there for you?
DK: “The goal is a strong qualifying performance and a good finish in the race. There are no easy races in INDYCAR but I will be racing hard for a good finish for the home crowd!”
Kellett Fast Facts: Age 28…Born in Toronto, Canada and lives in Indianapolis…Became engaged to Nicole Westra and they plan to wed on New Year’s Eve…Graduated from Queens University with a degree in Engineering Physics…Brand spokesman for Ten80 Education’s National STEM League…Enjoys rock climbing, backcountry skiing, camping, playing guitar, cooking and golf. For the technically curious, Kellett posts TikTok videos (@dalton_kellett) about the race car labeled “Indy Mondays” with subjects ranging from the steering wheel to the weight jacker to cold tires.
New Look for the No. 4 K-Line Chevrolet! Kellett’s No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet will feature a slightly different look this weekend in a nod to Canada. The engine cover will be covered in red and black Buffalo Plaid (or Buffalo Check) with a white maple leaf and the popular Canadian “eh?” on the engine cover.
KYLE KIRKWOOD will be driving the Sexton Properties Chevrolet this weekend. Kirkwood and team have been strong on the street courses this season so he is looking forward to returning to Toronto where he enjoyed success in the junior formulas in 2018 and 2019. Driving in the U.S. F2000 Series, he won both events in his first appearance there. He returned next year in the Indy Pro 2000 Series finishing eighth in Race 1 and winning the second race. The Indy Lights Series did not race at Toronto last year.
“It’s great that we are able to get back on the streets of Toronto. Given this year’s trend, I am always looking forward to the street courses. Toronto is a track that I personally have a lot of experience at and can’t wait to see what it feels like in the Indy car. I believe we’ll have a shot of redeeming ourselves from Detroit where we should have finished easily in the top 10.”
Kirkwood Fast Facts: Age 23…Born in West Palm Beach, and lives in Jupiter, Florida… Only driver to win championships in all three divisions of the Road to Indy ladder system…Began racing karts at age 5…Won the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 title (12 wins in 14 races) and won 15 of 17 races to claim the F3 Americas Championship…Won the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with nine victories and five poles in 16 races (RP Motorsports)…Won the 2021 Indy Lights championship with 10 victories and seven poles in 20 races (the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic). Enjoys surfing, deep-sea fishing, diving and golf.
No. 11 Entry Withdrawn from Toronto: The No. 11 entry scheduled to be driven by Tatiana Calderón on the street and road courses this season will miss the event in Toronto due to an interruption in sponsorship funding. It is undetermined at this time when the car will return to action.
A.J. Foyt will be attending this weekend’s event marking his return to action since the Indianapolis 500 in May. With Dalton Kellett’s sponsor K-Line Insulators established in Canada, Foyt made a special effort to attend the race this season, despite cutting back on his schedule. He also plans to attend the Iowa doubleheader and the Indy GP at the end of the month.
Past Performance: Both Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood will be making their first Toronto starts in an Indy car although both drivers have enjoyed success in the junior formulas. The Foyt team’s best start is eighth with Takuma Sato in 2015; their best finish is third with Mike Conway in 2012. The team’s record shows better finishes than starts: they have four top-5s and three more top-10s.
Last Race: At Mid-Ohio, the Foyt team had its share of misfortune! Kirkwood did not finish after qualifying ninth in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet–his best start of the season. Two laps after his first pit stop, he hit the tire barrier in Turn 9 and was out of the race, placing 26th. Calderón had issues with the shifting and was forced to retire early as well; she finished 25th. Kellett was hit from behind and by the time the safety team got him restarted, he had lost two laps; he finished 22nd.
The Honda Indy Toronto will be streamed live on NBC’s Peacock Premium at 3 p.m. ET. The broadcast will have limited commercials.It is the first time an NTT INDYCAR Series race has been streamed live exclusively in the U.S. Peacock will also stream live the practices on Friday (2:30 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.) as well as qualifying on Saturday (2 p.m.) and the race morning warmup (10:55 a.m.). All times are Eastern.