Official Site of Ken Lilley Racing. Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.
If you ask any young boy what they want to be when they grow up you'll probably hear the more common answers such as Police Officer, Firefighter, Doctor, Football Player, Soccer Player, or even "I don't know." At 6 years old, Ken was your average American boy whose days were filled with important childhood activities like school, soccer, fishing, golf, riding ATV's and playing with friends. Thinking about his future wasn't even on his radar until the first time he saw a quarter midget race car. Whatever your definition, luck or fate, a dream was born that day for this Titusville, Florida native setting him on a course toward a career in motorsports.
Now at age 12, Ken has spent the last 5 1/2 years racing and heads into the 2009 race season prepared for new challenges as he moves into the FASCAR Pro Truck racing series. "I'm very excited about starting in a new series this year," said Ken. "I met a lot of great people and had a lot of fun in quarter midgets, but it was time for me to move on. Now I need to concentrate on learning everything I can about my Pro Truck."
His silly smile, blue eyes, adorable freckles, and goofy humor are enjoyed by family and friends. But, it's his drive and determination, along with his respectfulness, generosity and sense of fairness, which continues to attract fans and supporters. Although young in years with still much to learn, his solid character and mature focus are exactly what he needs to reach his goal.
Ken is quick to point out, "I'm a race car driver, so I'd like to go out and win every race, but right now I know I've got to focus on my learning curve and take one turn at a time. I think if I do that I'll do pretty good."
"Pretty good" seems to fit Ken's humble nature. However his competitive spirit and natural talent were evident from the beginning.
Back in the fall of 2003 his dad first learned from a co-worker about a race track only 45 minutes from their home where kids, ages 5 to 16, were competing. The skills these young drivers displayed, he was told, provided for some exciting entertainment. So, one evening on a whim Ken's dad decided they would drive up and check it out. At the time Ken, as well as his sister and brother, were all playing soccer. "We were your typical family," said Ken's mom, Donna. "We spent a lot of time at weekday practices and
Saturdays at the soccer fields cheering on the kids." No one could have predicted that a simple, innocent night out with Dad would ignite Ken's passion for racing.
A year later he would finally take his first laps around the race track at age 7 when his parents enrolled him in novice training through the New Smyrna Quarter Midget Association. He completed his training within a few weeks and received his driver's card and clearance to begin racing. He competed in his first quarter midget race in late October in the Junior Novice division. With the 2003 racing season quickly coming to an end he had little time to sharpen his racing skills.
With only four races under his belt he competed in the 45th Annual Tangerine Winter Nationals hosted by the Mid-Florida Quarter Midget Racer's Association. This 5-day event, a racing tradition amongst the quarter midget community, attracted hundreds of families and drivers from around the country. Ken's lack of racing experience was overshadowed by his natural instinct on the race track. This being the first time on this track, and never having had to qualify into a race before, Ken astonished everyone by setting the track record in the Junior Novice division. He went on to finish 2nd overall out of 31 cars. A few days later he competed in the 1st annual Little New Smyrna 500 where he won the heat race and finished 5th overall. Both were impressive accomplishments for such a young driver.
And so it began.
Ken has gone on to have a terrific run in quarter midgets from 2003 through 2008 competing in 420 races over 4 different divisions, alongside many other talented young drivers from around the country, traveling to 16 different tracks throughout 9 different states. His transition from playground to race track has been a successful one with 110 career wins, 52 second-place finishes, 53 third-place finishes, 3 track championships, numerous A-Main finishes in regional and national events, and placed 3rd in the World Formula Division at the 2008 Eastern Grand Nationals in Meriden, Connecticut.
In addition to his skills behind the wheel, Ken also likes working on his own equipment. This hands-on approach has allowed him to develop a solid knowledge of chassis setup, shocks and springs, carburetors and other engine components. This experience enables him to communicate well, providing more accurate feedback from the driver's seat. His mechanical know-how is sure to expand as the team begins prepping for the upcoming race season. "We've been very busy working on my #17 Chevy Silverado," said Ken, "It's a lot of fun learning new stuff all the time."
And learning is a priority. Ken's winning approach to achieving his goals includes staying focused on his education as well as his racing - and finding a balance can sometimes be tricky. The demands of racing could have made it easy for him to neglect his academics, fortunately this isn't the case. He understands the importance of a solid education and was rewarded for his achievements by being selected to participate in the Pre-AICE Cambridge program, an advanced placement/college-prep program sponsored by Cambridge University. Ken's joy of learning also extends to music. When he's not at the track, working on his truck or doing school work, you'll probably find him practicing his Saxophone.
"It hasn't all been easy," said Ken's dad, Ken Sr., a Propellant/Cryogenic Technician at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, "but nothing good comes easy. It takes dedication and hard work and that's what I've seen from him. When he was about 9," shared Ken Sr., "we were driving past Daytona International Speedway and out of the blue he looked over and said, 'I'm gonna race there some day.'" It wasn't what he said as much as how he said it and in that moment you knew he was committed to his dream. "His instincts on the track have been impressive," added Ken Sr., "and if he's fortunate enough to get the right opportunities I believe he'll succeed at becoming one of the sport's top racing professionals."
And so it continues.
In 2009 Ken will make his first start in the FASCAR Pro Truck Division as he transitions from the high-speed thrills of a 1/16 mile oval to the adrenaline-packed asphalt of Orlando Speedworld's 3/8 mile short track! The move brings new excitement to the Ken Lilley Racing Team. "I want to do my best at everything I try," said Ken, "and I can't wait to get behind the wheel of my Pro Truck and take the green. 2009 is going to be a great year!"