Drag racing student spends weekends at the track

Photo contributed by Competition Plus
Simpson (left) with the team’s camera man Denny Pett and crew member Brad Robinson (behind the car) watch a car burn out. While he has not been behind the wheel recently, Simpson is a regular at the track.

“I have been involved in drag racing my whole entire life,” senior visual communication design major Keiffer Simpson said.

Simpson said his passion for drag racing stemmed from his family’s long  involvement in the motorsport.

“My grandfather raced super stock [a class of drag car] in the 1960s and he was a four-time national champion,” Simpson said. “He has kept it in my family—my mother’s first drag race was when she was six months old. That got her involved with the sport her whole entire life. My first [attended] race was a day old and so were my other siblings.”

Drag racing is a motorsport in which participants race high powered cars down a quarter mile strip. The course is usually completed in times within seventeen seconds, at speeds ranging from 80 to 340 miles per hour.

Simpson’s family currently owns a racing team named Rudolph Motorsports based out of Brownsburg, Ind. They own six race cars and three junior dragsters, which are the cars that children race competitively. Simpson credited his mother and stepfather as his primary support system. His stepfather taught him about being a racecar driver and businessman.

Simpson’s mother, Kelli Urley,  encouraged him to practice his racing every day and said that even at a young age, sportsmanship was important to him.

“He was very good, he was competitive, he was very humble, very unique,” Ulrey said. “[He was] a very good sport about everything— went over and congratulated [other racers] whether he won or lost. He was a great kid, to be honest.”

Although his family is involved in racing as well, Simpson said that he appreciates the relationships he made at the track with other members of the racing community and considers them equally important to his success.

“I knew I was addicted to it [drag racing] as soon as I was old enough to know what was going on,” Simpson said. “And when I was eight years old— that is when you’re allowed to start junior drag racing— I fell in love. Racing is all about community and family. It’s literally what brings my family together. We all are in love with it. Also, [we enjoy] the love that the racing community offers. It’s not just your immediate family that makes it a family sport. People pour their heart and soul into this, especially at a professional level like we are. It’s literally what your life has revolved around and once you get into it, it’s hard to get out because of all this stuff [racing and the community], it’s amazing.”

Mallory Moench, a psychology major at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, has known Simpson since childhood. Her family owns a motorsports shop, and she and Simpson often raced together.  Moench said that Simpson takes part in various aspects of racing and is an involved member of his team.

“He’s driven before, he has run crew for his team. He has younger siblings that he helped run their cars. He’s run the social media and marketing aspect of the team,” Moench said. “He’s just done a lot of different areas underneath the umbrella of racing. He’s able to work in all aspects of racing and excel at them. It’s not like he’s just there. He’s great at what he does.”

Although Simpson himself has not driven behind the wheel since his freshman year of college, he stays involved as assistant crew chief for Rudolph          Motorsports and using his design skills for marketing and logos.

“I stopped driving… after my freshman year of college just so I could focus on school,” Simpson said. “I am the crew chief of the three junior dragster that my siblings race. So, that’s how I am involved with Rudolf Motorsports.”

Simpson also uses design skills learned at UIndy for various projects relating to motorcross as a way to stay involved. This work is mostly done from his computer.

“I have been involved with other teams through social media, [and] design work. I’m actually doing freelance design while getting through my last year of school. Currently I’m designing a logo for a racing team based out of Missouri.”

Simpson said that without the relationships he has created at UIndy, he does not think he would have been able to participate in motocross to the extent that he has thus far.