In the Driver's Seat

Jeremy Kay

Age: 17
Lives in: Reno, Nevada
Marital status: Single
Occupation: Student
Car number: 1K
Type of chassis: STR
Engine: Chevrolet
Crew Chief: Jimmy Dickerson
Years in racing: 14
Divisions raced: Go-karts, Lucas Oil Modifieds
Series point standings: First season
Sponsors: High Voltage Electric; Rocket Electric; O’Brien’s Moving and Storage; Pro 1 Automotive; STR; Arce Racing Engines

Jeremy Kay said his ambition is to be an automotive engineer so he can help design and build cars and parts for them. His first design project may be a bubble roof for the next car he drives in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by MAVTV the Motorsports Network.

Kay, one of a handful of standout rookies this season, is the tallest driver in the series at 6-foot-6. That makes him easy to spot in a group but complicates the process of getting into and out of race cars that have been designed for drivers several inches shorter. Kay doesn’t know if he is done growing, either, because he’s only 17, so that bubble roof may need to be replaced by a dome.

The good news is that once Kay does get into the car he feels at home despite the fact the transition he’s trying to make from go-karts to the Lucas Oil Modifieds is like diving in to the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim.

“That’s the way my dad (Chad) has always been, he’s always wanted us to try the hardest stuff,” Jeremy said of himself and older brother and fellow rookie Cody Kay. “Luckily, we’ve been able to adapt to it pretty quick, but we’re still trying to get the hang of most of the stuff. These Modifieds are a lot different than a go-kart, for sure.

“It hasn’t really been intimidating; it’s just trying to get the hang of everything. Luckily, I don’t scare too easy.”

The brothers, who call Reno, Nevada, home, made their series debut at Madera (California) Speedway last October, Cody in an STR Chevrolet formerly driven by Austin Barnes and Jeremy in the STR previously owned by Kyle Cline. They took togetherness to the extreme there by finishing 15th (Cody) and 16th (Jeremy), then came back for the season finale at Las Vegas in November to finish 14th (Jeremy) and 30th (Cody).

Kay said they didn’t do much testing during the off-season because of the demands of school and work. But they did hire 2008 champion Jimmy Dickerson as crew chief, extend the rear end of the car, switch to a 2-speed Jerico transmission and switch from the fuel-injected Ford engine that had been in the car to a Chevrolet. Then they drafted series veteran Dave Arce to build their engines.

“We just ended up having some motor failures at the beginning of the season,” Jeremy said. “Making that transition from our old motor builder over to Dave Arce has been really good.

“Another hardship was, we live so far away (from Dickerson and the crew), just trying to get together with everybody and communicate with the team is pretty hard.”

Jeremy, who is a senior in the STEM (science and technology) program at Galena High School in Reno, said it has “always felt natural to me being in some kind of race car,” and he’s tried to compensate for limited practice time on the track with extensive practice on his simulator at home.

It seems to be working, too, because in his past three starts Jeremy was 11th at Bakersfield June 30, 12th at Salt Lake City July 21 and 10th at Irwindale August 18, his first top 10 finish. Next up is the tight quarter-mile at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, California, September 15. “I love this series,” he said. “Coming from the go-karts, where you’d have three entries in the class and it’s kind of dying out, it’s fun coming here and having 20 or 24 cars in the field. With everyone being so competitive that just makes you want to be a harder racer. “We just judge it off how we do at previous races, just try to improve on small stuff, and we’re doing pretty good.”


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In the Driver's Seat

Ryan Schartau

Ryan Schartau

Age: 16 (2 October 2002)
Lives in: Chino, California
Marital status: Single
Occupation: Student; sophomore at Ontario Christian High School
Car number: 7r
Type of chassis: RBK-STR
Engine: Chevrolet
Crew Chief: Dean Kuhn
Sponsors: Scott Brothers Dairy; SpillVak; Team RBK Years in racing: 11 years Divisions raced: Go-karts, Trophy Karts, Legends Cars, Late Models, Lucas Oil Modifieds
Series point standings: First year

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