Michigan Corvette racecar driver Danny Kellermeyer looks back on his busy 2018 racing year with pride, especially about winning another driving championship — the Waterford Hills Road Racing T1 title.
“The races there were awesome,” says Danny, an Ortonville resident and veteran racecar driver sponsored by Matick Chevrolet in metro Detroit.
This marks his sixth consecutive year winning the Michigan Waterford Hills crown in his Corvette. He even set a new track record during a September race – just over a minute at 1:11.682 – on the 1.4-mile-long track hadn’t been broken since 2016.
“When you set a record, you have to do it at the beginning of the race, lap 2 or 3, because that is the fastest the tires will be,” he says. “I had put a new set of tires on. Everything was going perfect that day.”
We caught up with him recently to ask a few questions as he looks toward next season:
How would you summarize this past year?
It was a good season, not without normal pitfalls. Rain (during) races did me in a couple spots. I drove each of my cars – Corvette C4, C5, C6 and C7 – at least once. My main car is the C6. Of my 28 races, I finished first in 20 of them.
What was a great racing memory from the 2018 racing season?
We did a 10-lap Australian Pursuit at Waterford Hills on the last race of the year in September. That mean all groups can race, anybody can sign up. The slowest car goes first, then next slowest, etc. I started in the 36th position because I was the fastest car.
So at the start, with those 36 cars, I went out 72 seconds late. We had everything out there, even a Volkswagen, but there was no crash damage, no contact. With one lap to go, I finally passed the leader and won. It was a fun race to watch.
What's happening at Waterford Hills during the off-season?
They tore up the track this fall and put down all new asphalt and curbing. We cut out one month of racing for (contractors) to dig it up. It should be nice for next year. It really needed it.
Raecar drivers Kellermeyer (left), Colin Chappell and Phil Robbins kissed the old WHRRI track goodbye.
Tell us about your race at Mid-Ohio on Oct. 14.
It was a good run. I was in 44th place at the back of pack because I’d been knocked off the track. I did a lot of passing and finished second.
We hear you're mentoring younger drivers.
Yes! One is Christie Bagne. This was her first year. She’s driving a Miata, and doing excellent. She was featured on the cover of the Sports Car Club of America magazine. She’s an up-and-coming young lady who works for GM and lives in Royal Oak.
The other driver is Colin Chappell, from Hillsdale. He’s in a Corvette and got his racing license this year. It’s great to see interest in racing because it was down when money was tight.
Kellermeyer (in yellow) and other drivers celebrate the end of the 2018 racing season at the Waterford Hills track.
Tell us about the driving school.
At the Waterford Hills driving school in April and May, we had 52 students, the largest group ever. New drivers can participate in our competition school and become a novice right there. It’s highly sought after.
And your other activities?
- I took part in Waterford Hills’ 60th Anniversary Celebrations, finishing first in the Big Bore Showcase Race on Sept. 8 and, as I mentioned, the Australian Pursuit on Sept. 9.
- I participated in six Sports Car Club of America races, with a podium finish in five, including three first places.
- I was in five Sportscar Vintage Racing Association races, the big one being the Brickyard Vintage Invitational at the Indianapolis Speedway where I drove my 1986 C4 Corvette. That June 15-17 event drew 750 entrees.
- I exhibited my Corvette at Flint’s Back to the Bricks show in August. That annual event draws 450,000 spectators.
- On June 24, I went to the Flint Corvette Club’s Auto City Autocross, where participants’ cars were scaled for corner weights, courtesy of my sponsor Matick Chevrolet.
- I had my Corvette at the Detroit Autorama in March, and also at the Livonia Business Expo in May.
- In January, I spoke to middle schools for the annual Young Inventors contest for middle school students in the Livonia Public Schools, Clarenceville Community Schools and Wayne-Westland Community Schools districts. I was a speaker at the awards dinner for the top 30 young inventors. It was a great night with all the students, parents and grandparents.
What will you be doing during the winter months?
I’ll be prepping all four racecars for the 2019 racing season. New engines and drivetrains are being built. All cars are built from the ground up, starting with bare frames. If I start and stay on it, it takes two weeks. It’s all the pre-work, making sure everything is sized and machined properly. That takes a lot of time. This is the third year on my C6 engine, so it has to come out. I’ll do it myself and my wife, Michaelle, helps me.
Any other thoughts about the year?
I certainly signed a lot of autographs and did a lot on the tracks.
Do you like letting fans get a chance to sit inside your racecars?
I think back to a race at the downtown Cleveland airport one year. A dad brought his son to the race, and the boy was skinny and fragile because he had muscular dystrophy. I talked to the young man and suggested we get him in the racecar. The dad and I lifted him carefully, got him in and I looked up and the dad was crying. I believe it was thought the boy could never get in a car like that.