While most 12-year-old boys were playing motorsport games on their PlayStations, Keenan Tully was out driving the real thing as he got a taste for motor racing at an early age.
Now 20, Keenan is an established race car driver on the local circuits, with big plans to make it big in the American sport of Nascar racing.
“I didn’t have any roots in the sport,” said Keenan, who lives in Aylsham. “I’m a first generation fan, my dad was never into it, he preferred football. My friend was already racing and I watched him and it sort of started from there. I started racing in the Junior Formula and then moved into adult racing when I was 16.”
His first race, aged 12, was in a full size car and spent a lot of time at the race car track at Swaffham, which held test days most weeks.
“You pay to have the track to test and to practise and learn,” he said. “I have raced at Yarmouth, Ipswich, Swaffham, Birmingham and Essex and won 17 trophies.”
The former Reepham High School pupil also drove in the USA when his family lived there for a time, which is where he discovered Nascar, the most popular motor sport in the states.
“We lived in California a couple of years ago and I got found out by a team, which was incredible. My dream is to race there full time.”
Nascar has a long and proud history, but despite its 100 years of popularity it has remained an American sport, which is why Keenan and his brother, Zach, are moving to North Carolina so he can follow his dream.
“North Carolina is where about 90pc of the Nascar teams are based, so that’s the place to be,” said Keenan. “
He hopes to attract a sponsor once he is there so he can compete professionally – and he wonders if the novelty of being a British driver might be a help.
“My mum is from California, so I have an American passport,” he said. “When I was racing there, people loved that I was British and fans would come round and ask me to talk just to hear my accent!”
All racing including stock car and hot rod racing is currently paused in the UK, and Keenan had his last race back in February.
Shortly after lockdown he broke his kneecap and he is working hard to get back to racing fitness for when the season begins with a behind-closed-doors meeting at Swaffham on July 18 – no mean feat with gyms also closed.
At the moment everyone is equal in the league table of drivers but in the past Keenan has come second and third, including a second place in the East Anglian Championship in 2018 and was third in the national standings in the year before.
“I will carry on racing between now and my move and save up so I can buy my own car or find sponsorship,” he said. “It’s not a cheap sport and the only way to get into it is to hope a team sees you and supports you. Right now I am self-funding.”
With a full time job as a mechanic for Lotus Racing Team in Long Stratton and his own mobile car valeting business, Keenan is working hard to support his racing, to fund his move overseas and to get fit after his injury.
His determination even saw him shed six stone in order to get into racing shape when he weighed in at 18 stone in 2016.
“It’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do, and I’ll work hard to get there,” he said.
Keenan is looking for partners who could help him with his adventure. If anyone can help they can email him at email@example.com or visit his Facebook page.