Danny Kellermeyer and his Matick Chevy-sponsored Corvette racecar are ready to collect more trophies this season. Photo by Kayleigh Jordan.
Burning up a racetrack is a way of life for Corvette racecar driver Danny Kellermeyer of Clarkston, Mich.
When he was only 8 years old, Danny would slip away from his family’s farm near Jackson, Mich., to race go-karts at a nearby track.
“I told Dad I was playing,” recalls Danny. “I was winning and hiding my trophies in the cow barn so Dad wouldn't find them.”
When word eventually got around about his skill behind the wheel, Danny ‘fessed up and his father let him race.
The trophies have continued to pile up – from wins at drag races, then stock car showdowns and now in T1 racing.
This year, he has already won six of eight races, (and came in second in the other two) in his Matick Chevy-sponsored Corvette, with another 14 races coming up. His next race weekend is June 25-26 at Grattan Raceway.
This season’s early racing featured some wicked weather, but Danny still managed to win at Waterford Hills on May 14-15.
“It was the weekend from hell,” he says. “We were on the grid getting ready to pull out and it was cold and dry. A quarter-mile around, it starts to rain. Then another quarter mile and it starts to sleet — and then another quarter mile and it starts to snow. Officials brought us in because they couldn’t see the sightlines. I don’t own snow tires.
“I’ve never had a race like that, and I don’t want another,” he says.
His Matick Chevy Corvette is in “top shape,” he says. But as always, Danny leaves nothing to chance, building his own components.
Danny presumes his DJ Racing team is one of the only crews out there that is self-sufficient.
“I have my own machine shop, and do all my own machine work,” he says.
The component exceptions, he adds, are roll cages and paint.
His father’s influence figures into Danny’s can-do attitude.
“Dad always said, if you have to hire someone more than once, buy the tools and do it yourself,” he says.
On his schedule this year is the computer design of a new C7 Corvette with a 346-cubic-inch engine. This is the first time he has created components by computer.
“I like the method,” he says. “For me to (physically) swap a camshaft is costly. On the computer, I can hit a key and within five minutes, I will know what new horsepower reading will be.”
Being in a machine shop is familiar when you consider Danny built his first car when he was 12.
He started drag racing when he received his driver’s license at 16.
After he married in 1966, Danny and his wife, Michaelle, had three children. He continued to drag race until 1978. After living for a time near Atlanta, Ga., he moved to Ortonville and has lived there 30 years.
Since the 1980s, Danny estimates he’s driven nearly 46,000 miles on racetracks.
Last year, he set the fastest T1 lap at the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Kentucky.
Depending on the race event, he’ll bring along anywhere from one to five cars to each track.
“I take a C5 Corvette that I have as backup,” he says.
Competitors this year come in all makes and models – Viper, Porsche, BMW along with other Corvettes.
“There are not many around,” Danny says.
At Waterford Hills, Danny looks forward to being greeted by his loyal fans.
“It’s neat to have a following. I like the fans and take cars to display and let kids sit in them.”
Danny sounds ready and able to defend his 2015 T1 championship.
“We’re the guy to chase. Somebody’s got to be on top and I like being there.”