Dalton Kellett isn’t your average 23-year-old.
The Canadian drives the No. 28 K-Line Insulators USA, Inc. Mazda/Dallara IL-15 for Andretti Autosport in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series. However, he regular commits time away from his day job to help spearhead one of the most important educational programs for youth today – STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
A graduate from Queen’s University in his native country in 2015 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering physics, Kellett uses his racing career as a platform to engage youth in the ways STEM can be effective, creative and fun.
“From a definition standpoint of STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – those fields, I think having an engineering degree and (being) a driver puts me in a unique position as a spokesperson for doing the STEM outreach,” Kellett said.
“Aside from my personal goals as a driver in what I want to achieve, I think what I want to use my career and platform for is to hopefully inspire more kids to go into those careers and get those kind of degrees. I feel that, from a society standpoint, that is what we need more of right now.”
Kellett is in his sixth season in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires development ladder sanctioned by INDYCAR. He has spent two seasons in each of the three levels as he drives toward his goal of reaching the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Kellett is participating in Hi-Tide’s Kids on Track program this season that gives children a behind-the-scenes look at what race teams and drivers do on a regular basis to prepare for each weekend.
“It’s hard to convince young kids that it’s worth the work and worth the effort to be good at math and science,” he said. “But if you can show them at an early age that there’s cool stuff, whether it’s race cars, aerospace or stuff like that, and you get them hooked on it young, it’s the way to do it. That’s my goal with that, and having an engineering degree puts me in a good position to be a spokesperson for that.”
A third-place finisher in last year’s Freedom 100 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, Kellett said his STEM interest comes naturally.
“My dad is an engineer and my grandpa started a manufacturing business,” said Kellett. “Our whole family is pretty techie and it was always something I wanted to do growing up. You know, I was definitely a tinkerer of Lego, building stuff and taking stuff apart. I definitely drove my parents crazy with things like that.
“From a racing standpoint, it’s all testing, development and all that stuff that is an application of engineering, on a motor engineering principle. So having the background on the technical side, although it might not make you a faster driver by virtue of having an engineering degree, I think in the long run having sound technical background helps relate to your engineers better.”
Kellett and the rest of the Indy Lights field returns to action this week for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis doubleheader on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. A pair of 60-minute test sessions take place on the 2.439-mile circuit Thursday. Practice, qualifying and the first race are set for Friday, with qualifying and the second race on Saturday. All sessions Friday and Saturday will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.