Like many youngsters, Harley Kellogg dreamed of being a high-profile hockey or baseball player.
The family sport, auto racing, could wait.
Migrating to Stateline Speedway’s Baby Grand division has come after years of ice time and swings in the batter’s box, although he did mix in go-karts at Sunset Speedway.
“School has always been my top priority, but I have always taken the time to enjoy hockey or playing baseball along with my racing,” he said. “I just think it’s important to do the things you love and I have enjoyed those sports growing up.”
Baseball and hockey stuck until Kellogg entered high school where he found that one sport needed full-time concentration. Family ties were a big part of choosing the steering wheel over bats and pucks.
“Racing let’s me be me,” said Kellogg, who had a top-five finish in last week’s Baby Grand opener at Stateline. “While I do work on the car, my pit crew does most of the set-up work (which includes his parents, Jim and Pam Kellogg). It allows me to focus on the driving part. I do want to learn how to set the car up myself but for now we’re focused on my driving and getting better each week.”
The move to a bigger racetrack and heavier car has not been as daunting as Kellogg thought heading into Baby Grand racing last year.
“The Baby Grand and the karts are similar in driving styles, plus you’re always racing against great drivers at Sunset Speedway and now out at Stateline,” he said. “For me the competition we face each week is the best young talent in the region. Driving the kart on dirt taught me car control, which has helped with the Baby Grand on pavement at Stateline.
“Right now I focus on the driving styles and what the car needs and work to get better each time. We have had some good runs since moving to Baby Grands but there is always room for improvement. I know I just need to take the same approach as when we ran karts, which is to learn lap after lap and how to prepare for each race condition.”
Finding the niche of racing has also allowed Kellogg to be involved in a sport despite his health issues.
“Racing allows me to take part in a sport that is using my mind and my physical talent as I battle asthma and chronic lung disease, which sometimes impacted the hockey or baseball play.”
The Baby Grand division, which consists of seven races, returns to the track May 5. Spending time at the track and competing in a family sport is one of many reasons the teen traded nets and diamonds for dirt and asphalt.
“As a driver my biggest influence has been Dale Earnhardt but to have my dad, grandpa, uncles and cousins as role models in racing is the biggest joy I get from going to the track each week,” Kellogg said.