JH: Deana, why don’t we begin where it all started, in terms of Autocross. Tell us about what got you into Autocross, and maybe give us some insight as to your overall experience.
DK: Well, I started in 2011. My college roommate found out I had done some karting when I was younger, and told me I had to come out and try Autocross. Said I would have a blast. I was hooked instantly. First Nationals was the following year in a STC Civic. My next trip was 2015 in an ESP Mustang. Both of those were co-drives. I took my ND Miata to Nationals in CSL the past two years, with 2016 being the year I won the Championship.
JH: How about a little bit about yourself, outside of Autocross. What do you do for a living? Seems like you are involved in quite a few different things.
DK: Totally! I have a bunch of different gigs. I am actually packing to head out to work a Track Night in America event, as we are talking. My main gig, however, is at The Supercharger Store where I assemble gear drives for superchargers. I also get to play with the CNC machine a bit, as I am learning the machine shop side of things as well. I am also involved with a charity called B.R.A.K.E.S., a teen driving school that works with young adults that already have a learner’s permit or license, and at least thirty hours of driving experience. We help them become better defensive drivers. I try to fit in various other driving gigs when I can.
JH: I saw something online about a 24 hour mountain bike race. I know we have quite a few Autocrossers that like to bike as well. Can you tell me more about that event?
DK: Sure! It’s called the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. It’s kinda like the mountain bike version of Burning Man. Lots of people go for the atmosphere and the shenanigans. The race itself is run a bunch of different ways, could be a four-person team, duo, or a single rider. I chose to enter as a single rider, on a single speed bike, for the event. It’s just non-stop riding. I only really stopped to eat, drink, or have the bike worked on. Basically it’s eat, drink, and ride for 24 hours straight. And yes, you have to be a bit deranged to do something like this.
JH: WOW. That sounds grueling. But I am guessing you had a blast. With as many folks that both autocross and bike, do you think there is any crossover between the sports?
DK: I definitely think there is, both physically and mentally. Physically, being in shape really helps with the big event weekends. All the walking and constant activity out in the sun can really wear you out. So having good endurance, or a strong cardio workout, really helps. Mentally, when riding a mountain bike on rough terrain, and things get squirrelly, you have to keep looking forward to that next corner or obstacle. I can tell when I get on my bike after an event, if I wasn’t looking ahead as much as I should have, because I’ll be doing the same thing on the bike. So, I think the biking helps me reinforce the aspects of keeping your eyes up while in the car.
JH: So, what is next for Deana Kelley, competition wise?
DK: Well, for Autocross in 2018, I will be running the Mazda Motorsports ND MX-5 in CS open with Dave Ogburn on BFG Rivals. I am also looking forward to experiencing my first road race in a Spec Miata at Sonoma.
Take Five will be an ongoing feature of SoloMatters, where we take some time out to get to know various people in the autocross scene, and the cool hobbies or jobs they are involved with. If you have anyone you would like to submit as a potential subject, please email Jhunter@scca.com.