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The generational nature of racing is truly unique in the world of sports. Knowledge and information is passed down to sons and daughters, but the common thread that seems to be etched on to the DNA of racing families is passion.
No greater passion for the sport can be found beyond the father-son tandem of Doug and D.J. Kennington, who have combined for two NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 championships and are the winningest car owner and driver duo in series history.
The elder Kennington’s start in racing came more than 50 years ago as a key figure in the construction of St. Thomas (Ontario) Raceway Park – a quarter-mile dragstrip. In those early years, he oversaw the operation, was the technical director, and a competitor. However, after starting a family, he backed away from the sport until D.J. started a racing career of his own.
Oddly enough, after getting his feet wet in karting, D.J. opted to move into stock cars and short-track ovals as opposed to dragsters with no misgivings from his father.
“He’s always been my biggest supporter,” said the younger Kennington. “When I told what I wanted to do, he said, ‘Let’s go.’”
The two put their first stock car on the track in 1993, just days after D.J. turned 16, at Delaware (Ontario) Speedway – just a short trip down the road from their home in St. Thomas. Nineteen years later, they are still going strong.
At 72 years of age, Doug, a 2004 inductee into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, doesn’t make it to all the Canadian Tire Series events, but often times the proceedings in Victory Lane are delayed a minute or so because the first order of business is to make a quick phone call to report the results of the day.
Don’t think for a moment that he is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the team, though. The Kenningtons are often working shoulder-to-shoulder in the race shop. A great sense of pride among the DJK Racing team is that they provide their own horsepower by building the engines that powered the Castrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors Dodge to a single-season series record seven wins in 2012.
“My dad looks after all of the engine stuff,” said the two-time series champ. “He builds the best motors money can buy. They’re always competitive and our reliability has been off the charts.”
The father-son combinations in racing are legendary – Earnhardt, Petty, Andretti and Unser are but just a few, and, more than likely, the father was more proud of the son’s accomplishments than anything they had achieved themselves.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what D.J. and the team did this year,” said the patriarch. “To win seven times – the five in a row – just shows how dedicated they were to their goal.”