Feb 8/15 Katelyn Kinnett has been following NASCAR since 1995, when her dad first began rooting on the 24 car. At first, she cared more about her Barbie's and playing outside with the neighborhood kids, but with time her Sunday afternoons after church were spent with her father watching the races.
She became a fan of Jeff Gordon in 1995, even writing him a letter at the age of ten explaining how much of a 24 fan both she and her father were. “JGord”, as she calls him, was her man – until she watched a truck series race at her local track, Kentucky Speedway, in 2003. She saw the winning driver backflip off of the bed of his truck in celebration – something she had never witnessed before. Watching his post-race interview in Victory Lane, she immediately fell in love with his awkard, yet genuine demeanor. This kid may have been a bit nerdy, but he had charm that won her over in an instant. Carl Edwards was her new man.
Let’s fast forward to Carl’s Cup debut in August of 2004. Katelyn was primarily focused on the 24, thinking that Carl wouldn’t contend in his very first race in the Cup Series. She was blown away to see him finish in 10th. It was then that she, and many other fans, realized that this guy in the 99 would be a force to reckon with. Katelyn was even more blown away by what he did the following year in Atlanta, winning both his first Busch Series race and also Nextel Cup Series race, in the same weekend. This was also a notable moment for Katelyn, as Carl became the third driver to win in each of NASCAR’s top three series.
Growing up as a Hendrick and Roush fan, the news of Carl's departure from the 99 hit her hard. She read comments from former Edwards fans who jumped ship once it was announced he would be in the #19 Arris Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. Regardless of the manufacturer, Katelyn found it difficult to part ways with a driver who had won her over a decade before. With that said, she hopes that this move will give him the competitive edge that is a must in the most competitive series in auto racing.
Now growing up, Katelyn spent the majority of her childhood in a dugout watching her father play softball. You would think, because there was an abundance of time being spent around the ball diamond, that she would be completely immersed in baseball, but it had quite the opposite effect. She quickly grew tired of the same old bat and ball rigamarole.
In 2004, she made the decision to move to Charlotte, NC, the NASCAR capital, once she graduated High School. In 2006, she applied to schools only in the Charlotte area, and was accepted into the Motorsports Management program at Belmont Abbey College. She also worked briefly at Charlotte Motorspeedway in 2008 before moving back to Cincinnati.
She has had the opportunity to network with many individuals within the sport, and hopes that she will one day return to Charlotte to fulfill her dream of working in NASCAR.