Birthdate: May 25, 1993
Home: Little Chute, Wis.
Resides: Clemson, S.C.
When reflecting on why he’s chasing the dream of making a career in big-time auto racing, Ross Kenseth’s answer is simple and succinct—“Racing is all I’ve ever known.”
A third-generation racer from Wisconsin, Kenseth grew up watching his dad, Matt, chase down his dream while racing on the same short tracks his grandfather, Roy, did years before.
“I can remember being 4 years old watching my dad racing at WIR (Wisconsin International Raceway) and it just seems like I’ve been around racing since Day One,” said Kenseth. “My cousin and I started racing go-karts around the same time and I enjoyed it so much that it wasn’t long before I began racing at tracks all over the Midwest.”
Kenseth raced go-karts from age 5 to 12 before transitioning to Legend Cars for a couple of seasons.
In 2007, Kenseth got behind the wheel of his first limited late model at Columbus (Wis.) 151 Speedway, the same track where his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion father, Matt, started his career nearly 20 years earlier. He scored his first career late model win in June of 2008 at Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. and went on to record five late model victories during the year.
Kenseth turned in a banner season in 2009, winning the Big 8 Series championship by a wide margin and recording a series-best, five victories in the process. He also made his first start in a super late model at the prestigious Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Fla.
“That’s probably been my most vivid memory so far,” said Kenseth of his first start in the Snowball Derby. “It was my first race in a super late model and it’s such a big event. I’ll never forget that feeling of showing up there, qualifying second and being able to run the full race and get a solid finish.”
Kenseth raced in the ASA Midwest series in 2010, winning at Elko, Minn., and earning ASA Midwest Rookie of Year honors. Kenseth continued winning super late model races around the country and notched eight victories on the season.
Winning quickly became synonymous with Kenseth, who turned in his second straight eight-win season in 2011, including three of the first four ASA Midwest races on the schedule. He also joined his father in an exclusive club when he won the Red, White and Blue State Championship at Wisconsin International Raceway.
Kenseth enjoyed another successful season racing super late models in 2012 when he won several major events including the All-American 400 in Nashville, Tenn., the Winchester (Ind.) 400 and the Red Bud 300 in Anderson, Ind. He joined short-track legend Butch Miller as only the second driver in history to win the Winchester 400 and All-American 400 on back-to-back weekends.
The next two seasons proved a period of growth for Kenseth. After winning four super late model races with Generation 3 Motorsports, including Indianapolis Raceway Park, in 2013, Kenseth left the team at year's end to move to Michigan and help one of his sponsors start a super late model team. It was a tremendous learning experience for the 20-year old Kenseth, who was called upon to do virtually everything to keep the operation running successfully throughout the season. From ordering parts/building and setting up the race car, to finding crewmen/reserving hotel rooms and driving the rig to the track, Kenseth did it all in 2014.
Meanwhile, he starting getting some opportunities to make his first heavy car starts in the ARCA Racing Series. First, in Aug. of 2013, Kenseth made his ARCA debut at Madison (Wis.) International Speedway; winning the pole and leading 51 laps before finishing sixth.
In Oct. of 2014, Kenseth made his first superspeedway start at Kansas, and drove to an impressive third-place finish with an underfunded team that had never finished higher than ninth.
His continued success has caught the eye of many NASCAR team owners who have expressed interest in signing the young Kenseth.
Follow Ross Kenseth on Twitter: @RossKenseth