1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s
this time the two brothers started families. Bob son Scotty was
born, and soon after Bob too became a family man. Kay, an Ohio
girl, had moved over to Michigan and very soon she and Bob were
married. In September 1981 Brian was born, and then in February
84 Brad followed. One other birth of note - on May 3rd 1981, at
the Milwaukee Mile ASA meet, the famous K Automotive number 29
hit the track for the very first time, on a Dodge Aspen.
For the next few years Bob and Ron ran late model stock cars in the NASCAR Grand
American Series, winning over 30 races. Bob was track champion at Toledo in 1983.
March 1986 another era ended : Team's founder and head of the family,
John, passed away a few months shy of his 70th birthday. Kay said
of him "He was a wildcat racer. Did his own thing and
just really scratched the surface of the racing deal".
Bob made his ARCA series debut in 1986 at Daytona, and would race
seven races that year in a #29 Chevrolet. There had been a one off
race at Atlanta - (173 laps and a coil failure) but this year
saw real results, with strong 2nds at St Louis International Speedway
and a few weeks later at Flat Rock. Bob Keselowski went on to score
more victories, more poles, more laps led in races and more top 5
finishes than any other driver the recent history of that series.
Keselowski circa 1987
Keselowski was awarded the 1987 and 1992 Michigan McCord ARCA Mechanic
of the Year award. Bob, meanwhile, received driver of the
year awards from Mopar Muscle Magazine and Michigan Auto Racing
Fan Club. In 1989 he was the ARCA series champion and finished
in the top 10 in the series point standing from 1986 through 1994. Ron
Crew Chief of the Year?
August 1986. Berlin Raceway saw Bob's first ARCA victory - a racetrack
that would eventually see his son Brian take his own first major
victories two decades later. Victories followed at Illinois State
Fairgrounds, Atlanta, Pocono, Illinois again and DeQuoin.
1990 at the Daytona International Speedway, he was the driver that
spun off, wrecking into Kevin Gundegar, an incident that resulted
in an injury paramedic Mike Staley.
A 1993 race in Springfield saw a record trying 4th win ('87,'88,'89)
for Bob Keselowski after a late slip by local favorite Ken Rowley.
1990-BLACK BANDIT KESELOWSKI ENDS TOLEDO VICTORY DROUGHT Bob
Keselowski ended a long victory dry spell at Toledo Speedway
by taking the Snap On Tools 125 ARCA Permatex Supercar Series
race. Keselowski, the 1983 Toledo Speedway late model division
track champion, extended the string of consecutive races with
different winners in the ARCA Series to 8 winners in as many
K team would run full seasons at ARCA from 88 through 94. Bob even
interupted the season to make his NASCAR Winston Cup debut at the
wheel of Jimmy Mean's #17 Ford at Pocono Raceway. June 12th 1994.
The car engine gave up on lap 17 but it still earned Bob's biggest
purse to date. He beat Ward Burton at least. Rusty Wallace won
that one for Roger Penske.
- DODGE ENTERS OVAL RACING
the early 70s Chrysler departure, Cup racing had operated with
just two main manufacturers, GM and Ford. At ARCA level things
were different, and a number of non-factory teams operated throughout
the period. ARCA also used the most famous of the MOPAR models,
the awesome winged Superbird Dodge Daytona after the car was outlawed
by the NASCAR rule change limiting engines to 305 Cl. Ramo Stott,
in fact, won the ARCA championship in a Superbird in 1970. After
the '70s, though, most of the Chryslers were LeBarons fielded by
the likes of Jerry Churchill, Ron Otto, and Keselowski.
Chrysler and its Mopar Performance Parts division wanted to make
an "unofficial" entry into oval track racing, ARCA was an outlet
and it was inevitable that K Automotive with all their MOPAR experience
would get first refusal. Bob, who at the time was gearing up for
his (successful) ARCA Supercar Series Championship year felt that
only running speedway races and having only one race engine wouldn't
provide the support he needed to finish as Champion. He passed
on the offer, so the first official Dodge at ARCA level was
Jerry Churchill's LeBaron. He caused quite a stir in 1989 when
it was built at Norman Negree's North Carolina shop and tested,
and eventually raced, at Atlanta.
again contacted Keselowski after his '89 winning season and
this time offered a more attractive deal, including all the
engines and sheetmetal required to race an entire season. THis
time Bob and Ron accepted the offer. Now Chrysler cars were
seen in ARCA racing throughout the following seasons. Bob Keselowski
brought his Black LeBaron home second in points and led that
year's event winners with four. Also running a Dodge, Roy
Payne, a driver towing all the way from Alabama for the entire
ARCA schedule, not only won the rookie-of-the-year, but also
a top ten points finish.
away with the 1990 MIS ARCA race in the Beretta (until mechanical
KEVIN SCHWARZ: My most memorable race with Bob probably is
ALL of them I saw him drive! Usually, wherever he started he'd
head to the front, but if I had to pick one, I guess it'd be
Delaware (Canada), 1991. It was so hot (like they used to say
in the Johnny Carson crowd, "how hot was it?!?"); it was so
hot, I saw a dude in a red outfit with horns stickin' out of
his head fanning himself! Anyway, Bob just took off and left
everyone with their finger up their nose! It was impressive.
And afterwards, he got out, posed for pics, smiled, interviewed,
stood, talked to the crowd, whatever the crowd and press needed
-- pretty amazing. I always thought he was the best "all around
driver", meaning, prepares well, runs well, and exits the car
well, win or lose! Thanks for the memories!
Kevin witnessed a great period in Bob and Ron's career. The '91 Delaware
race was the second of three consecutive podium finishes. The first
at Flat Rock in June, the third at Pocono International Raceway.
WIN The latter date was significant in that this was the first
race win in a Chrysler LeBaron, which was their car from here on
at ARCA level. After the agreement with MoPar the guys had just
three weeks to switch his speedway car from Chevrolet to Chrysler
and the hard work paid off. The #29 came home in Victory Lane!
The team went on to finish 3rd in points for the year.
After winning the July 1991 Flat Rock race - Photo Kevin
A wreck and fire at MIS, 1991
and Kay with their boys in Michigan's victory lane, 1992 in
the "GM Goodwrench ARCA 200"
Bob took the win in a '92 Chrysler LeBaron - a backup vehicle as
the 'good car' had wrecked in a Thursday pre-qualifying practice,
He took victory after chasing down race leader Jeff McLure and thanks
to clever fuel strategy (every competitor made a green flag stop
while the #29 ran on) ,leading the final 19 laps. The prize was his
biggest to date: $16,575.
Bob's 1991 three-peat was nearly repeated a year later. Another great
win at his home track, Michigan International Speedway in June 1992,
was followed by 8th place at Music City, then two straight wins at
Delaware and Pocono. the latter his fourth career win at the circuit.
The latter was another career winnings peak.
brother Ron and I both have been around racing for 50 years
because we were born into this sport. When my family started
racing, we knew nothing about it. My dad was a mechanic in
a Ford dealership. We have done it as a family and never altered
or changed it. My dad started this in 1956 and my mom still
lives in the same house I was born and raised in.
live a half a mile from there and we still frequent the same
tracks we ran with my dad. Now I am doing that with my sons.
I didn't realize that many years have went by. It's been a pretty
neat life and career. I don't have any regrets except my dad
hasn't been around for the last 20 years to see where we've gone."
Keselowski, as he received the Michigan Automobile Racing Fan Club/
Eddie Sachs Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award in February 2003