Since eight years old, local speedster Kasey Kleyn has been racing cars. Now 12, he has multiple wins under his belt and dreams of racing on the biggest stages in NASCAR.
At eight-years-old, he started out in the Bandolero Series for ages 8-11 before moving on to the 51 Fifty Jr. Late Model Series that he is currently competing in.
At the age of 10, he got a Geo Metro 5-speed to practice with behind the house so he could learn to shift. His current race car is a rebuilt Chevy 350.
He hopes to pursue a career as a professional NASCAR driver. Some of his racing role models include his dad and NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
His current race series, the 51 Fifty Jr. Late Model Series, is held in Madera, California. There are a total of nine races open for 10-16 year olds. This series is a 70-lap race that is televised on MAVTV.
When he’s not racing, or at school, he’s at home practicing with his race simulator. His simulator includes a set up with all the foot pedals and a feedback steering wheel.
Some of Kleyn’s sponsors include Thaemert Farms in Quincy, Park Model Homes in Spokane and Kustom Fab out of Richland.
His nickname is “Kasey Kash” but his dad, Mitch Kleyn, joked that lately he has been called “Kasey Crash” due to a crash that occurred on the first lap of a race at Madera on the weekend of July 11. He was the youngest in the race and happened to crash with the oldest driver in the race, 16-year-old Cassidy Hinds. After returning to the race, and having a right-front bearing problem that was fixed halfway through, Kleyn finished 14th.
“It would be easy for Kasey to get frustrated and say he didn’t want to go back but that’s not who he is, he has a passion and has a never give up attitude and has the drive and determination in him to make him successful,” stated a post on Kleyn’s Facebook page, which was created by his mother Rhonda.
Rhonda also mentioned how physically and mentally demanding racing is. This is especially true in Madera where the heat surpasses 100 degrees quite often, putting the cockpit of Kasey’s race car even hotter. While he does have a ventilator that blows air into his helmet, it does not cool the air so it is often hot air being blown into his face.
The weekend of the Fourth of July he participated in a race at the Meridian Speedway in Idaho. The main race was 20 laps against five other racers. He captured his first win in his Jr. Late Model car there and even broke a track record.
This past weekend, Kleyn raced in Hermiston, Ore. and finished second in both his twin mains, according to Rhonda. This was his first time racing on the Hermiston track.
His dad Mitch still currently races and said that he will only retire once Kasey passes him. That might happen sooner rather than later as Kasey will be racing against his dad in a few weeks at the Idaho 200 the weekend of Aug 1.
You can keep up with Kasey’s racing journey on Facebook at Kasey Kleyn Racing.