Brad Keselowski doesn’t stop when the race is over
By Mike Savicki
A twenty-seven-year-old who is living his dream in racing.
That’s how Mooresville’s Brad Keselowski summarizes his current lifestyle as we conclude an interview near Penske Racing headquarters. NASCAR’s two weeks of Charlotte spring racing are on the horizon, and Keselowski’s schedule is packed. He has just finished a team dinner and is about to head to a scheduled appearance when he makes time to chat.
“In this sport, we don’t get days off, and we are pretty much used to keeping a pace that most people would agree is crazy,” Keselowski explains. “When the races come to Charlotte every year, you’d think things would slow down a bit, but they really don’t.”
Case in point, just a few days after we talk, Keselowski qualifies his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger second in the All Star Showdown and competes for one million dollars that same night in the Sprint All Star Race under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He then catches a flight the next morning to the Iowa Speedway and finishes the No. 22 Discount Tire/Ruby Tuesday Dodge Challenger third in the Nationwide Series John Deere Dealers 250, before returning home to begin practice for the Coca Cola 600, the longest race of his season. The No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ram Truck finishes top ten that same weekend, so Keselowski earns some pride as an owner along the way, too.
How’s that for a busy 24 hours?
The next time we cross paths, it is two nights after Iowa, and Brad is attending The King’s Cup, a charity event organized by Richard Petty where teams from around the sport compete in go-kart racing relay-style on an indoor track in Charlotte. When I ask him why he’s not taking a turn behind the wheel, Keselowski jokingly says he and go-karts don’t go well together, so he is spending the evening meeting fans and signing autographs. There’s more to being the driver and leader of a team than just driving, he reminds me.
The following weekend, with a few more practice sessions under his belt, Keselowski wins the second pole of his career by clocking a lap of over 190 mph on the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The night before Memorial Day, he leads the 2011 Coca Cola 600 for the first seven laps and raises his total Sprint Cup laps lead to 100. In between his pole victory and the Coca Cola 600, Keselowski finishes sixth in the Nationwide Top Gear 300.
If you are keeping count, that’s 900 miles of racing in one weekend.
The morning after the 600, Keselowski is up early and on his bicycle for a social ride, celebrity challenge, BBQ and concert to benefit the Brad Keselowski Checkered Flag Foundation. He incorporated the foundation in 2010 to support those who have sacrificed greatly, including military personnel, veterans, first-responders and their families. He believes it’s important to give back.
Does Brad Keselowski ever rest?
“It’s fair to say that as a driver and team owner, I have a lot of personal demands and driver demands, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he offers. “I have been provided incredible opportunities all my life, and I want to be able to provide those same opportunities to others. Anyone in the know will tell you that the key to happiness is not to receive but to give as much as you can.
“I love where I’m at,” Brad Keselowski concludes. “It’s very challenging to shift gears, and there are so many triggers that can make the transition easier or harder. Racing and life can change quickly. It’s important to keep moving.”
This article was originally published in the July 2011 edition of Currents Magazine.