Kaleb Allison hits the race track at an early age
At an age when most of his peers are thinking about their learner's permits, 14-year-old Kaleb Allison is already driving at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
Kaleb, a freshman at Mexico High School, isn't doing so illegally; instead he's beginning to make a name for himself in the world of auto racing.
Kaleb started his racing career when he was just 3 years old, competing on dirt bikes. A trip to Illinois' Quincy Raceway later inspired him to start racing cars.
"When we went to the track in Quincy and I saw them race in person, I just fell in love with it," Kaleb said.
At the age of 8, Kaleb began racing go-karts in the World Karting Association Manufacturer's Cup Series, one of the premier karting series in the United States.
The karts featured in the WKA are approximately 42 inches wide and 70 inches long with no suspension. The 150-200 pound karts are powered by engines ranging from 5-30 horsepower and can reach speeds in excess of 90 MPH.
Many NASCAR and IndyCar stars, including Danica Patrick and Sam Hornish Jr. got their starts in the series, and Jamie McMurray and A.J. Allmendinger continue to compete in the series today.
Kaleb competed on tracks in Las Vegas, Daytona, Charlotte, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Colorado, California, Indiana and Ohio, racking up five regional championships on the way. In 2011, Kaleb won the Performance Racing Industry Karting Classic at Conesco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
In 2013 Kaleb moved up in competition level again, driving the number 47 late model at Lebanon I-44 Speedway as part of the NASCAR Wheelen series. In order to compete in the series, Kaleb had to be licensed as a NASCAR driver.
Despite his youth, Kaleb competed well on the three-eighths of a mile track, with two finishes in the top five, seven in the top ten and a final series finish of tenth place.
"When he first started racing we made him start in the back," Kaleb's mother Mechelle said. "We made him work his way to the front. After he started having success we let him take his lines."
Racing is a family affair for the Allisons. Kaleb's 8 year old brother Tyler, a third grader at McMillan Elementary School, has followed in his brother's footsteps by competing in go-kart racing. Kaleb's parents are his support team during races and Kaleb and his father Keith employ a do-it-yourself ethic to working on cars. During the racing season the pair will frequently spend five to six hours every night working on Kaleb's car. In order to accommodate for Kaleb's age they have modified the car themselves.
Beyond his parents Kaleb receives support from Ben's Auto Body, CARQUEST and Columbia's Joe Machens Ford.
In 2014, Kaleb plans to compete in the Jegs Championship Racing Association which will once again take him across the country for races. He hopes he can continue to be successful and eventually work his work his way to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.