IT was the club and track that kick started Rick Kelly’s long standing and successful career within motorsport.

And recently Rick, and his son Lex, seven, (PICTURED) returned to that very track to begin another chapter within the sport.

Mildura Kart Club was where it all started for Rick, former driver in the Supercars Championship Series.

Rick announced his retirement from the sport ahead of the 2021 season after almost 20 racing seasons.

Rick splits his time now between the Mornington Peninsula, where he and his family have a home, and back here in Mildura, where he has a business.

In retiring, it has allowed him more time to give back to the community and the sport, and of course, build on his bond with his son over something that clearly has, and still does, mean a lot to him.

“We’ve been looking for a little while, our son Lex has been looking to get into go karts, but we didn’t rush into it and wanted to make sure he was definitely keen before we got one,” Rick told Mildura Weekly earlier this week.

“We’d found a decent one on Facebook Marketplace one Sunday at home.

“We snapped it up and had it at home, ready to start working on 45 minutes later.”

Lex had always liked the idea of getting into karts, Rick said, given that he was a racecar driver.

“His cousin, Mason, has done some go karting and also runs a little Hyundai Excel in that series, so he has been exposed to it and he looks up to Mason and also what we have achieved and he wanted to do the same thing,” Rick said.

On returning to where it all started for Rick, with his son, Rick said it was a pretty special weekend for him personally.

“I had spent a few weeks getting Lex’s licensing and membership sorted here in Melbourne, at the Oakleigh Kart Club, but we joined the Mildura one for just that reason,” he said.

“I really enjoyed my time there and I haven’t spent a lot of time there in the last 23 years really, since I moved to Melbourne and pursued my career in racing.

“I wanted Lex to learn on the same track I did and I really enjoyed the atmosphere, the environment and the type of racing that the Mildura Club has to offer compared to the bigger metropolitan clubs.

“And it was great, a lot of the things I remember were still there, which is really cool so it was great to see Lex start his kart and drive off around the circuit for the first time.

“We went one day and he spent a lot of time in the kart, and we went the next day and he spent even more.”

Rick said it took Lex a little bit of time to work up his confidence to drive the go kart.

“That involved us working on it in the shed, moving the pedals, putting in a new seat, doing other things we needed to to get it in good working order,” Rick said.

“So we spent a bit of time on that, and then we went around the track on little push scooters and talked about where to drive, where to position the kart, where to brake and all those things.

“We went through the process to make sure he was comfortable and then, like everyone, he started off nice and slow and then built up his speed.

“He absolutely loved it and keeps asking when he can do it again.

“We can’t wait to get him back down there.”

Rick said being able to be involved again with karting also meant he is able to give back to the sport.

“The big thing for me, as I have finished my career in racing now, is to try and give a little bit back to the sport,” he said.

“When you are involved in Supercars it’s hard to focus too much energy on other things.

“You are so busy with trying to deliver results for yourself, the team and the sponsors.

“So for me now, it’s more about me being able to work with the Mildura Kart Club and see where I can help out, to try and support the club as best as I can.

“Being able to enjoy motorsport with Lex and show it with him, that’s fantastic, but a big part of it is me joining the club myself and trying to assist them the best I can and try and help other youngsters, who like Lex, are coming into the sport.

“I spend a lot more time in Mildura now and I just can’t wait to be part of the club.”

– ZOEY ANDREWS