Showing posts with label Lee Speedway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lee Speedway. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2024

Racing remains at forefront for Windham’s Derek Kneeland

By Ed Pierce

For Windham auto racer Derek Kneeland, the only way to define your limits is by going beyond them.

Kneeland, 38, continues to be a busy man in auto racing this year, trying to find time to race his own car at local tracks, driving part-time for Mike Bryant Racing in super late model select events, and serving as a spotter for Kyle Busch, Austin Hill xfinity, Nick Sanchez trucks in NASCAR events.

Derek Kneeland of Windham has been racing since he was
8 and now works for Richard Childress Racing as a 
spotter in NASCAR events. He also finds time to compete
on local tracks in his super modified racecar, finishing fifth
in a race at Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire
on June 22. COURTESY PHOTO   
Racing runs in Kneeland’s blood as his father Jeff competed in the 1970s and his grandfather was the general manager of Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough at one time. Derek started racing go-karts when he was 8 years old, and it ignited a dream of one day taking the checkered flag at a NASCAR race.

As costs to compete in NASCAR rose sharply, Kneeland found another avenue to become involved at that level and he took on the job as a spotter during a race in Pennsylvania 16 years ago. Those spotter duties grew over time and Kneeland now has served as a spotter for drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA Menards Series.

“Bristol is my favorite race as a spotter,” Kneeland said. “It’s busy, there’s a lot going on, a lot of information, it’s loud and an exciting environment. Keeping up with the differences in divisions I spot is the hardest thing, different drivers, different vehicles, the job itself is still the same, give info, and try to describe the things I see the best way I can to be a valuable asset to my drivers and teams.”

He is currently working for Richard Childress Racing as a spotter and typically is out on the road for 38 weeks every year. That can be an exhausting schedule and doesn’t leave much time, but he is planning on racing his own car this summer at Lee Speedway in New Hampshire on July 26, Oxford Speedway in Maine on Aug. 4, Berlin Raceway in Michigan on Aug. 7, and possibly the Oxford 250 on Aug. 25 and the Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway in Florida.

As a NASCAR spotter, Kneeland relays information to the driver of the team he works for, keeping them alert of what is occurring on the track. To get a complete look at the racetrack, he is usually positioned on top of one of the grandstands or support buildings.

“For me I think the hardest part is I don’t get to race weekly like most do because of traveling around the country working my NASCAR duties, so there are a few things I need to clean up to figure out such as how to go faster and be better as a driver. And money obviously, it takes a lot of money to race these cars and be competitive.”

He said racing his own car is more of a hobby than something he calls his career.

“I love it, done it since I was 8 years old,” Kneeland said. “I’m just fortunate to be able to do it a handful of times a year with my busy schedule.”

According to Kneeland, his greatest fans are his family, including his wife, Carley, his two stepsons Kolby and Logan, his parents Jeff and Kelly Kneeland, and his sister, Tasha.

He said all his family and friends have been supportive of his life in racing.

“My dad and my cousin Rusty Poland and my good buddy, Nick Brown, we all work together on my car and Rusty’s,” Kneeland said. “It’s definitely a family sport. My parents and my wife every weekend tune into the NASCAR app to listen to me spot for my drivers as well. They love it all whether it’s getting to watch me behind the wheel or listen to me do my job on a weekly basis.”

His proudest moments in racing include his first Cup win at Michigan with Kyle Larson, being a part of an Xfinity championship with Tyler Reddick and a Superspeedway win with Kyle Busch.

His career as spotter has taken him to NASCAR tracks all over the nation and as a driver, Kneeland has raced in Maine, New Hampshire, Michigan, North Carolina, and Florida. He says the biggest race he’s competed in is the Oxford 250 because he raced against NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski in that event.

“I still have a couple things left to check off my list,” Kneeland said. “And they are tough ones. A cup championship and a Daytona 500 win.” <