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Bathurst winner relishing grassroots return

Bathurst 1000 winner Todd Kelly is relishing a return to grassroots motorsport as his son Mason steps up to circuit racing.

Mason and Todd Kelly

The Supercars team owner has become a regular fixture at state-level events in Victoria in the past few months, helping his 16-year-old son Mason Kelly take his formative steps from karts to cars.

The Kellys are running a low-key Hyundai Excel programme, understated to the point that the Excel doesn't even run pre-cut door numbers, the father-son duo opting to make their own out of race tape.

Kelly Jr enjoyed a breakthrough outing at Winton last weekend for his second Victorian State Circuit Racing Championships appearance, grabbing a sixth, ninth and seventh from three races in a packed 29-car field.

According to Kelly Sr the Excel programme is a better fit for the family than karting, where the Supercars schedule meant the younger Kelly was being left behind due to a lack of seat time.

"It's been a challenge, the whole period of Mason's motorsport career with the Supercars schedule being so hectic," Todd Kelly told the Parked Up podcast.

"He only ever did every second or third race, at best, in his go-kart. Just the amount of time required for practice like all of the other kids, we thought we'd get out of go-karts because we can't afford the time to do it properly.

"He has a real bug for his driving and we've got a little Hyundai paddock bomb at home. I thought we'd get him into a race car, at least that'll give Mason something to enjoy and focus on between the races.

"He does all of the prep on the car 100 per cent himself. If it's not finished we don't go to the track, if it is and he's done a good job we'll take him racing.

"It's a completely different ball game to go-karts and it's something I'm a little more familiar with, going to car racing tracks. Mason is having an absolute ball so far."

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Kelly Sr admitted that he's enjoying getting back to his roots after more than two decades working at the top level of Australian motorsport as both a driver and team owner.

"We can debrief in the car on the way home rather than having big meetings in board rooms," he said. "It's really good fun. It's pretty low-key race weekend. You have two races on a day so there's plenty of time to talk about the car and tinker with the car."

Mason added that he's enjoying the more thorough preparation and set-up aspect of car racing compared to karts, unsurprising given his dad's renowned technical nous.

"It's pretty different to karts and it takes a lot more preparation and time to get the car to the track," he said.

"There's a lot more set-up involved in the car, which is all good learning. The racing is pretty close so you've got have your eyes on your mirrors all the time. It's a good learning experience."

"I'd like to keep racing in further categories. For now it's more for fun and we're just enjoying it while we can. But I'd be interested in a career."

Kelly is one of a number of generational racers currently on the scene.

Ben Bargwanna, son of Bathurst winner Jason, is currently racing in both Excels and TCR Australia, while Clay Richards – son of Steve and grandson of Jim – is competing in Formula Ford and Toyota 86s. Nash Morris, son of long-time Supercars racer Paul, is set to be a front-runner in the Super3 series this year.

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