Get to Know the Fast Track Finalists: Jonathan McKennedy

Jun 19, 2018

Fast Track to Fame has been one wild ride, to say the least. We received nearly 1,000 applications from extremely talented drivers from all over the country. But the votes have been cast, and the four finalists are in.

A native of Chelmsford, Mass., Jonathan began racing when he was just nine years old, starting with tiger sprints and graduating to karts, mini sprints, stock cars, modifieds, and anything else with four wheels. He’s competed (and won) at more than 22 tracks from Florida to Canada, and now he’s competing for your votes as a Fast Track finalist. Read our interview with Jonathan to learn more.

Did you expect to make it this far in the competition? 

It’s hard to say. I’ve made a pretty good driving résumé over the years and I felt pretty confident that I’d have a good chance, but it was certainly a little bit of a surprise to make the top four out of all the people throughout the country that are going for this sponsorship. It’s nice that some people took notice and the hard work paid off.

What’s something that you would like your fans to know about you?

I’m just really passionate about racing. That’s what I love to do and I take it really seriously. I put my heart and soul into racing, so I hope I can move forward with my career. And obviously a big thanks to all the fans who did vote for me to get this far. Hopefully we’ll continue to go farther forward.

If you win Fast Track to Fame, what are your plans for the prize?

Basically, whatever I’ve got to do to move my racing career forward, and kind of figure out the plan from there.

Do you have any role models or people who’ve inspired you along the way? How have they helped you in your career?

I look at a guy like Tony Stewart. Hard-working guy his whole life, slept in the back of pick-up trucks to get to the next event, and pretty much drove everything he could and was very great at what he did. As a hard racer myself, we love to race and we do whatever it takes. Tony was pretty much one of those guys. Wherever he got in he could win, and you could tell he was really passionate about racing and he took it very seriously. So probably a guy like Tony Stewart, or even someone like Jeff Gordon.

When you are not on the track, how are you spending your time?

I work full-time in construction, so that takes up some of my time. I try and do some stuff with friends when I can. A lot of the time, I’m studying racing and trying to get myself better, whether it’s watching videos or reading up on some stuff. I’m always trying to find an edge. My dad told me you only get what you put into something and effort equals success. The last several years really paid off, too. Getting some really good ride opportunities with some big-name people, and getting noticed by some really great sponsors, potentially like Valvoline as well. Hard work pays off and people take notice.

How are you able to juggle a full-time job and a racing career on the side?

It’s certainly not easy. I mean, there’s a lot of nights out in the garage real late, and certainly a lot of traveling as well. So it’s tough. You’ve got to manage your time and just organize everything ahead to make it all happen.

Throughout your career, who have been your biggest fans and supporters along the way?

I’d have to say a lot of my family. My dad’s been a huge supporter of my racing. He’s the one that got me into racing at nine years old, and he’s been behind me 100 percent. He was a big part of getting me to the level I’m at now. He pretty much did everything he could do, and now the ball’s kind of in my court to move my racing career forward and hopefully make a dream come true.

How has your experience under the hood helped you in your racing career?

Oh, I think it’s been huge. Whatever I drive, I can not only drive it and be successful and win in it, but I can also get out of the car and make my own adjustments to make me go faster. If we’ve got to change an engine out or a rear end, I’m capable of doing that. Over the years, it’s been overwhelming at times with all the work that had to be done to the cars, and juggling work around that. But it’s certainly paid off because it’s allowed me to drive the car, be good at driving, and also make adjustments to the car, knowing what I need for a feel and how to make those changes to give me what I want.

Have you hit any roadblocks in your racing career, and what did you do to overcome them?

I've definitely hit a few bumps along the way, but overall, I’ve kind of continuously been able to move up and get some really good ride opportunities from some good people that took notice, like Paul Dunigan or Art Barry. This year I’m driving for NASCAR car owner Tommy Baldwin, of Tommy Baldwin Racing. He was an owner in the NASCAR Spring Cup Series for several years and a crew chief. He also runs a modified as well, and he took notice of my talent last year and I hooked up with him. I’ve been able to keep climbing the ladder and getting some good ride opportunities with some great, well-respected people. Ultimately, I put my heart and soul into racing, and I hope one day to make a full career of it, whether that be in a NASCAR national touring series or INDYCAR.

Do you have any advice for amateur racers who are hoping to make this a career?

If you’re going to race and if you want to be good at it, you have to take it really serious andgive it 100 percent. It’s a big commitment. It’s one thing just to be part of the show, and be a part of the race, but it’s a whole different thing to really try and study racing and be great at it. Just give it a 100 percent effort and good things will come from it.

iRacing, Speedway Motors, One on One Brand, and Valvoline are proud sponsors of grassroots racing. Help us choose who has what it takes to be the next champion of American racing by voting today!

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