Tommy Kerr grew up in short track racing. Until getting involved with Larry and Steve Garner at Blount Motorsports racing was his job, his hobby and it consumed most of his waking hours. In the 12 years after becoming one of Blount Motorsports owners and their principle driver things have evolved to where Tommy is now a part time driver working full time for Blount Excavating. He is enjoying more family time and is getting to do things that he missed out on when he growing up at a race track or in a race shop.
BMS: When you were growing up it was all about racing.
TK: That was basically all we did was race. My grandfather J.T Kerr, raced, built chassis and had a racing business and that is where I grew up. A number of other family members, my dad, brothers and sisters, were all involved in racing. It was what we did basically 24/7. You didn’t go to ball games or to the lake you raced.
BMS: How did you do when you were racing full time?
TK: Not too bad. When you are in the business it is not all about winning races as you spend a lot of time working with customers and things like that. We won quite a few races, a couple of track championships and had a good time.
BMS: When you got hooked up with the Garners how did things change?
TK: The short answer to your question is that when I got hooked up with the Garners my whole life changed. And the changes were and are all good.
On the racing end of it everyone thought that when we put together Blount Motorsports I got a check from Blount Excavating while I worked on and drove the race cars. Something like this may happen with other teams, but not with Blount Excavating and Blount Motorsports. I worked for Blount Excavating and when that was done I worked on and drove the car.
As things progressed with the team we added a crew chief and then a second driver, Billy Ogle Jr. Having two cars racing full time turned out to take way more time, effort and money than we wanted to spend at BMS.
About this time my responsibilities at Blount Excavating were increasing and my kids were growing up really fast so I took a step back with my driving and Billy took over the primary driving chores. I started running about 15 to 20 races a year.
When Billy left Donald McIntosh came on board. He left at the end of the 2017 season and Casey Roberts is now our primary driver. David and Casey are working well together and if the winter will ever end and Casey can get some seat time I think you will see a lethal combination.
BMS: When you first cut back was it a shock?
TK: Oh yeah! When all of a sudden your life really changes and you are not at a race track every weekend or the race shop every evening its a shock. It took some getting used to, but I think I have it pretty well under control these days.
One of the first changes was when I would come home, the dog wouldn’t try to bite me and Kelly wasn’t calling 911 thinking I was a burglar.
My job at Blount Excavating, continues to grow and I am really enjoying being able to do things with the kids. My son is in high school and he plays baseball. My daughter is 10 going on 16 and is wide open. I am able to go to games, other school related deals and have some family time at the lake or where ever.
We just picked up a pontoon boat getting ready for summer/. I am getting to do a lot of the things I missed out on when I was a kid growing up at race tracks.
BMS: Would you go back to full time racing?
TK: You never say never, but I am really enjoying things like they are now. I am lucky that I am in a position to scratch my racing itch without having to do it full time.
BMS: You will probably race 10 to 15 times in 2018 and racing such a limited schedule has to have its drawbacks. How have you adjusted to that?
TK: You get away from it and you loose some of the competitive edge. My biggest problem is my rhythm. I might be three for four weeks out of the car and with a few hot laps I have to go out there and qualify and that is an adventure. After four or five laps in a heat or the feature I get dialed in pretty good.
Qualifying is so important today and the cars are so close that most of the time I am starting mid-pack or further back. When you start that far back if you do make in into the top five it is late in the race. Your tires are pretty much gone and your car is pretty much used up.
For me to win a WoO or a Lucas race I doubt that will ever happen unless the whole field crashed and/or fell out. We won an Iron-Man feature at Smoky Mountain last year and I usually win at least one race a year.
BMS: Crew Chief David Bryant echoed what Tommy was saying about his racing.
DB: “its pretty amazing watching Tommy come off a month or so without being in the seat. He looks kind of lost out there at first, but when he gets a few race laps under his belt and finds his rhythm its like someone flips a switch and off he goes.
He has won at least one race a year for the last few years and that is more than a lot of guys who are racing every weekend do.”
BMS: Even being behind before you start do you still enjoy it?
TK: Yes, I still really enjoy racing I’m just not as ate up with it as I used to be. I doubt I would be willing to devote the time, energy and money it takes to do it full time, but like I said I am in a position where I can race good up-to-date equipment on a limited basis. With the team I have enough involvement to keep me interested and up to date.
Besides if I went back full time I wouldn’t have time to fool with the pontoon boat.
BMS: I am out of questions that won’t incriminate either one of us. Is there anything you would like to say?
TK: First I don’t want it to sound like I am badmouthing racing, because I am not. I wouldn’t trade anything for my years in racing. Racing people are great and some of the best times I have ever had were at a race track. I can’t thank everyone involved, especially my wife Kelly and the kids, for all of their support.
And I really need to thank Larry and Steve Garner for all of their help, both in and out of racing and the “Fat Boy” David Bryant for all the years he has tried to keep me straight and/or turning left.
Whenever I look back I realize just how lucky I have been.