Exclusive Interview: Kyle Keenan and The Kia Rio B-spec

by May 7, 2014All News, Kia, Motorsports0 comments

Here we go with another exclusive interview at the Korean Car Blog and in this opportunity we have Kyle Keenan, a young racer who  recently have joined the Kinetic Motorsports group. Let’s meet Kyle!

Tell us your name, age and where you from?

My name is Kyle Keenan, I’m 23 years old, and I’m from Vancouver, Washington, USA.

 

How did you start your car racing career?

My dad used to work for a local Indy car builder, named Rolla Vollstedt. Rolla had taken an old go-kart in on a trade for some work he had done on a customer car. The kart was passed on to us, and my Dad and I spent a winter re-building the kart. I began racing it at a local dirt oval track in 1999, and I was so hooked!

I made the move from Karts to Cars thanks to Todd and Kristen at Pro Drive Racing School in 2008. They allowed me to participate in their 4-day racing school, and in exchange, I worked all summer long at their racing school.  After passing their school, I was granted an SCCA Racing license, and have been racing sports cars ever since!

 

Tell us your accomplishments so far.

My biggest accomplishment so far has to be working with Kia and Kinetic. I’ve driven with quite a few teams in the past few years, but being able to partner with them, as well as being able to bring Team KBR along has been fantastic. Our two teams work flawlessly together, and it’s a beautiful thing. We qualified 6th on our Pirelli World Challenge debut, and finished in the Top 10 during the race.

Another big accomplishment was winning the 6 Hours of the Cascades endurance race last October, in our first attempt. We started the race in 2nd, and took the lead a half-hour into the race. Our race was flawless, and we had absolutely no issues or problems. My co-drivers, Joe and Brendan Blair, had never won a race prior to that, so seeing their reactions to winning their first race made it special.

Outside of that, I’ve had success in almost all forms of motorsports, from Road Racing, to Autocross, Drifting, and Road Rally.

Tell us how you decided to choose a Kia and team up with Kinetic Motorsports?

Our local dealership, Dick Hannah Kia, approached me with the concept, and I couldn’t say no. Kinetic has always been a team I’ve idolized, as no matter what series they’re racing, they’re up front and winning races. Working with them has been fantastic. They show so much support for our program, and work so hard to help us develop the car and make it the fastest we can.

Dick Hannah Kia provided the car, Team KBR provided the proper crew and program, with Kia and Kinetic providing us with parts and technical support. The fact that everyone was willing to work together, and give it everything they had, made it an easy choice. It takes a lot of effort to race a car at the professional level, and honestly, the driver has the easiest part.

 

What were your thoughts and expectations about the Rio before driving it for the first time?

Honestly, I had no real expectations. I got to drive our Rio at various stages, so from the time it rolled off the truck, to driving it at a track day completely stock, to competing in our first Pirelli World Challenge event last fall. I was very confident from day 1 that the car would be a strong, reliable car.

The Kia is also very fun to drive, as it’s a very forgiving platform to learn the fundamentals of driving a race car. The hardest thing for me to get used to is how short the braking zones are, as this car stops on a dime compared to the other cars I’ve previously raced.

 

What could be some improvements after driving the Rio?

Team KBR did a great job building a great car right out of the box, so I feel our car is 95% of the way there. The rest is little things, like how I sit in the car, position of the mirrors, location of gauges, and such.

As far as the car from the factory, I don’t think there’s any changes “needed.” It’s an awesome car straight off the dealership lot!

 

You raced at the Thunderhill Raceway Park on the weekend of April 12, tell us how you did.

Yes, we were at Thunderhill for Rounds 5 and 6 of the US Majors Tour. It’s SCCA’s series designed to bridge the gap between Club racing and Pro racing. It was Team KBR’s first time competing there, and we re-set the qualifying track record, and won Round 5. The following day, for Round 6, there was a lot of wind, and we made a tire pressure change, that ultimately did not work in our favor. We still held on for 2nd.

It was also the first time a Kia has ever finished on the podium, in any SCCA class, at a US Majors Tour event, so a huge win for us!

What are your goals for this 2014 season?

My goals, quite simply, are to get good results for Kia in the US Majors Tour, as well as the Pirelli World Challenge. While we lack the funding to run full-time in both series, we’re doing all we can to get out and gain exposure for Kia Motors and the quality cars they produce.

What are your thoughts of the Rhys Millen’s Hyundai Veloster rallycross machine?

Global Rallycross is something that’s always been on my radar, so if Rhys is listening, I’d love to have a go in one 😉 I’ve been a fan of Rhys, since his drive back in the day with Mitsubishi’s US rally team.

What do you think about the Concept model GT4 Stinger?

I want one, so bad. I’m a huge rear wheel drive fan, and that car checks all the right boxes with me. A car built by Kia, to be a comfortable daily driver, but yet a fun track car as well. I’m told several designers also drive on track with Porsche 911’s, and Mazda Miata’s, so they’re my kind of people. Assuming the GT4 hits the market, I’ll be doing all I can to get my hands on one!

 

This is something new we are trying, so we say a word and you will response the first word that

comes on your mind.

Kia

Under rated

Hyundai

Under rated

Kinetic Motorsports

Dedicated

South Korea

Coming on strong

1.6L Gamma GDi

Solid, reliable, high potential engine.

Forte Koup

Want!

K900

High Class

SCCA

The best

Mark Wilkins

Best coach ever

Nic Jönsson

Focused

Kyle Keenan

Dream chaser!

 

We are dedicating this space for you.

I just want to thank my Parents, little brother Shane, and my girlfriend Dani for supporting me throughout my career, as well as all of our marketing partners! Kia Motors of America, Kia Racing, Dick Hannah Dealerships, Kinetic Motorsports, Mothers Polish, Hawk Performance, KKRProducts.com, Blairco Heating, Sikk Shades, SBOX Engineering, and Bell Helmets.

I love interacting with fans, so feel free to follow me on social media:

Twitter.com/KyleKeenan
Facebook.com/KyleKeenan44
Facebook.com/TeamKBRKia
Instagram: @kkrproducts
Youtube.com/kkrproducts

 

Thank you Kyle for taking the time to answer these questions and help our readers know more about you.
We wish you the best of luck on your racing career and we know you’ll do great this season.

Written by Erick Uceda

Blogger, Photographer, Car Enthusiast, HanFest - KDM Car Show, Streetkiaz Texas Chapter Leader, Husband and Father. Some of the activities I enjoy doing everyday.

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