Sophomore races towards professional career

Photo courtesy of Kaylen Frederick

Photo courtesy of Kaylen Frederick

By Rebecca Jackson, News Editor

Sophomore Kaylen Frederick isn’t old enough to drive a car, but he can drive 160 miles per hour in a race car – and win.


Nick-named K-Rex by his father, Frederick started kart racing at age seven with his sister Kyra. He has been working towards a professional race car career since age 13.


“It started out as something just for fun, but slowly we started getting more serious about it,” said Frederick. “We started out doing small regional races, and then eventually we moved all the way up to international races.”


Frederick is interested in Aerodynamics and Automotive Design, which he has been able to explore through his race car career, and by studying motion and road vehicles his driving improved.


According to his father Douglas Frederick, he and his wife rode motorcycles before Kaylen and Kyra were born, and at age three his kids rode motorcycle dirt-bikes.


Many young racers get their start by training with kart-racing because it provides a foundation of skills necessary for race car driving.


“We chose to race karts as opposed to motorcycles because these were developed race series for young talents, offering great competition and learning environments,” Douglas said. “Kart racing was also safer than motorcycle racing with less injuries, although safety is a concern in any type of racing.”


His track to success began at Summit Point Karts in West Virginia. In 2017, Frederick was the named the youngest licensed Mazda Road to Indy & SCCA Pro Racing Driver.


According to Frederick, racing is where he finds his “happy place. The people involved in the sport are some of the coolest and most devoted people I’ve met.”


Although normal to Frederick, race car driving is not the average American sport partially because of how young most people need to be to start and the large costs.


“It’s definitely one of the most financially involved sports. A lot of people don’t do it because they can’t get the funding through sponsorships,” Frederick said. “Once you get to a high enough level a lot of people that aren’t winning races won’t be able to get financial support because sponsors want their names on winning cars.”


Despite these factors, his father understands the passion that his son has for racing and has supported his involvement car driving from the beginning.


According to Douglas Frederick, he never pushed his son to pursue race car driving as a professional career, but from his own experience can see how the racing world is appealing to Kaylen.


In addition to racing, Frederick actively skiis and mountain bikes.


“I used to be a ski racer as well as a race car driver, but I just found more joy in racing cars than ski racing” Frederick said.


In 2016, Frederick rose to single seaters with team Pelfrey, where he worked closely with Director of Team Operations Jonathan Baker. His team for 2018 is called Pabst Racing.


According to his website, K-Rex Racing, Frederick was youngest open wheel racing driver in the 2016 USA SCCA Pro Series, at just age 14.


Although age limitations hindered which races he could enter and only granted a partial season, Fredericks’ wins have taken him as far as Canada and England for training and races.


According to K-Rex Racing, Frederick has raced 43 tracks, including karts and cars. He hopes that his career will take him to the Indy Car, the Indy 500 and Formula 1 to compete for World Championships.


All eyes were on Frederick after after he campaigned the entire Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 series and placed fourth at ages 14 and 15. Afterwards,  he was able to align with the best teams and fastest cars to further his career.


“When faced with difficult races or testing with teams, from karts to cars, I have often reminded him: ‘Kaylen, go out there and do what you do best. Go fast.’” Douglas Frederick said.


Most recently, Frederick competed in the SCCA Majors Formula Atlantic Races Jan. 5-6 and 12-14 in Florida, a race considered on par with Indy Lights. His team was K-Hill Motorsports for which he got four poles and two wins.


“I’ve pretty much grown up racing so I couldn’t imagine myself without it,” Frederick said. “Whenever I’m in the car all my problems and concerns, everything, fades away and I’m in my own mindset.”