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HomeNewsBathurstTodd Kelly guiding son through Bathurst debut

Todd Kelly guiding son through Bathurst debut

MASON Kelly, the teenaged son of 2005 Great Race winner Todd, is making his Mount Panorama debut this weekend at the Bathurst 12 Hour.

The 17-year-old schoolboy is driving a MARC Mazda3 in the Combined Sedans category, logging laps ahead of a likely return in October as part of the Super3 Series.

Kelly Jr’s career to date has consisted of outings aboard a Hyundai Excel and the MARC car, as well as a state level event in his father’s Nissan Altima Supercar last November.

Competing in a diverse field of cars in the Combined Sedan category at Bathurst, Kelly opened his account with seventh place in both qualifying sessions and the opening race.

Mason Kelly behind the wheel at Bathurst. Pic: Ross Gibb

“It’s a little bit crazy to think that my son is driving around at Bathurst when he’s only 17 years old,” Todd Kelly told V8 Sleuth following Race 1.

“It’s pretty cool that he’s been lucky enough to get the opportunity in the MARC car, which he has a little bit of experience in.

“It’s quite handy that he knows the car. In qualifying he only got three laps out of the two sessions with all the red flags, so he’s still only getting his head around it.

“In the race he got overtaken by quite a few cars which were about 30km/h quicker up the straights than what he is and then was stuck behind them.

“But it’s really good learning for him not to get frustrated with that. Even though he was much quicker over the top of the Mountain than the other cars, he was still really calm.

“Hopefully he can keep bringing it back straight for the next few races and leave here with a good experience of Bathurst.”

The Combined Sedans category features a diverse field. Pic: Ross Gibb

Asked if he was as calm in the garage as Mason appeared in the car, Todd laughed: “No, quite the opposite.

“It’s hard because with no telemetry or vision, you don’t see him for the whole lap.

“You see him at the end of Mountain Straight and then you’ve got to wait for ages to make sure that he comes down the other side of the Mountain every lap. It’s very stressful.”

Todd made his own Bathurst debut as a 16-year-old in 1996, competing in the Formula Ford support races at the Australian Touring Car Championship round in February.

He then made his first of what turned into 20 Bathurst 1000 starts in 1998 and won the race on his 26th birthday in 2005 alongside Mark Skaife at the Holden Racing Team.

Todd competed in the Formula Ford races at Bathurst in February and October 1996, winning the Sunday race at the latter. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Mason meanwhile told V8 Sleuth that he’s having fun learning the circuit aboard the MARC Mazda, which features a five-litre V8 engine and six-speed sequential gearbox.

“I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s good to learn the track,” said Mason, whose grandparents – former Supercars team owners Margaret and John Kelly – are also at Bathurst for the occasion.

“I’m very lucky to have Stuart (Eustice, car owner) let me drive his car again, he’s been very generous and trusting in letting me drive it.

“I’ve only been here twice before in the last couple of years, I never really got to come here as a kid, but I always watched on TV and it’s always been a dream to drive here.

“It exceeded my expectations a little bit. It doesn’t look as steep and as daunting on TV as it does in real life.

“It’s a great track to drive, the whole section over the top is really special.”

Mason Kelly in action at Sandown last November. Pic: The Race Torque

Todd confirmed that he’s aiming to field his son in the Super3 Series this year, marking a big step up for the youngster.

“We’re working away to try and pull something together to do some Super3 stuff and hopefully in the next week or so we can nut that out and give him a run,” said Kelly.

“The way he’s been so far in this car and even my old Nissan, with a test day and a race that he’s done in that, he’s taken to that quite well.

“It’d be good to give him a chance to do a few races. Hopefully we can work it out.”

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