By Bret Sievertsen
For more than 40 years Kevin Feller has worked at a race track doing something, from working the stands to promoting a track. Kevin was born and raised in Maquoketa, Iowa until relocating to Hillsdale, Illinois 17 years ago. Kevin and his wife Carey of 16 years, have two stepsons, Nicholas (24 years old) and Adam (21 years old). They also have another son, he is a 6 year old Shiba Inu, named Racer Earl.
“In 1968 my father and his cousin owned a race car and raced it in Maquoketa. As a family we would go and watch every week,” says Feller. From that point on racing was part of his life. “My first job at the track was selling the Hawkeye Racing News in the stands,” say Kevin. “I believe they sold for 15 cents a copy back then.” In 1975, Kevin started messing around with scoring races, and was asked to assist the scorer at the Jackson County Speedway in Maquoketa, Iowa. By midseason 1976, their roles were reversed and the former scorer was asked to assist Kevin.
Family has always played a big role in Kevin’s racing adventures. “In the 70’s my dad announced races all over the Midwest while my mother sold tickets. I was always with them at the track,” says Feller. “My sisters Michelle and Millissa also sold racing papers and programs.” While Kevin stayed involved with racing, his sisters would get away from it in their teen years. Kevin adds, “My sister Michelle went on to marry racer Ray Cox Jr. and had a daughter Kayla. Michelle has been very involved in Ray and Kayla’s racing.” His sister Millissa and her husband go to the races periodically.
In the late 90’s, Carey and Kevin were helping another promoter and his wife with every aspect of the track. “They were training us to take over the track when they retired,” says Kevin. Unfortunately, the track owners didn’t renew the promoter’s contracts leaving Carey and Kevin unable to take over. Carey and Kevin enjoyed promoting so much that they decided to give it a try themselves. Promoting was a dream that Kevin had had since he was a kid. “Most kids dream of being a racer, I dreamt about promoting,” says Kevin. The Fellers would finally get their chance when they won the contract at the East Moline Speedway in Illinois. Kevin found that family would play an important role in their decision to get into promoting. “Carey’s brothers, Andy and Tony, worked corners at the track, while her mom and dad ran the concessions stand. Our boys did just about every job, good or bad, that there was,” says Kevin. “As the promoter, you hold every position… from making hard decision to changing the toilet paper roll in the restrooms,” adds Kevin. When the question came up about why he decided to get out of promoting, Kevin told me, “Anybody that was around back then knows what happened, that’s all I’m going to say, keeps me out of trouble!”
These days Kevin has returned to what he loves, scoring races. He can be found every weekend at all three SPI Race Tracks; Farley, West Liberty, and Dubuque. With SPI, he does everything from the line ups at the start of the race, scoring the cars every lap as they pass by the judge’s stand, relines after a caution, and determining the finishing order after the race is completed. Kevin adds, “When I get home I figure the points and average them out for next week.” Over the years, Kevin has scored at least one race at 57 different tracks throughout the United States. “I have worked for UMP, NASCAR, Lucas Oil Tour, World of Outlaws, and IMCA,” says Feller. “To me the bigger the sanction body is, the less they care about the little guys.” Kevin has been offered jobs with many national series, but chooses to stick with the local tracks. “I have gained the respect of the driver,” says Kevin. “They know that I am there to help them and treat them fair.”
“I have made many friends over the years, and I enjoy working with the many people that I work with at SPI,” says Kevin. There are two people over the years that have left an impact on Kevin. “John Crossen was the man that took me in and taught me the ropes of scoring. I always looked up to him,” says Kevin. “John was the one that told me I had a knack for scoring and I could go as far as I want with it.” He adds, “I wish he had still been around when I was promoting, I think he would have been proud of what Carey and I had accomplished.” The other man to make an impact on Kevin is SPI Flagman Doug Haack. “Doug and I have worked together for nearly 30 years, we came up the ranks together,” says Kevin. “I think I could work with him without radios, we know what the other is doing just by eye contact sometimes.” He adds, “We travel to races that we work together and we go to a lot of races that we don’t work together.” “Doug and I have a good time together,” says Kevin. One person that Kevin would have liked to work with is retired promoter Earl Baltes, who promoted Eldora before the Tony Stewart era. “I really find Earl interesting, and liked the way he did things as a promoter,” says Kevin. “I would have liked to score a race at Eldora, just not the World 100.” The World 100 is scheduled the same weekend as the IMCA Super Nationals in Boone which is Kevin’s favorite race to score.
As a driver Kevin has only raced one time. “I raced in an Official’s race and won. It really wasn’t a big rush for me, I would much rather score a lapper or a tight race with lapped cars. The harder it is, the more I like it,” says Kevin. I asked Kevin if he has a favorite racer over the years. His answer, “My brother Keith.” Kevin doesn’t get to watch him race much, “Which is probably why he is my favorite,” says Kevin. Mark Martin is also one of his favorites to watch, “I saw him race at Rockford in the “Short Track Nationals” in 1976 when he was only 16 years old and already whooping on the veterans, even today he is still “The Man” to me.”
What’s in the future for Kevin Feller? “I plan to score races as long as I can, or as long as I am wanted. I don’t see myself getting out of it anytime soon,” says Kevin. As far as promoting, he says “Absolutely not. What’s the old saying? ‘Been there, done that.’ I am perfectly happy with what I do now.” He would like to add, “We need to get new young blood more involved in racing in all forms; fans, racers and officials. Look at my position, I am one of the veteran scores with 38 years of experience, but I am also one of the youngest people in it at the age of 48.” “If all the veteran officials and fans decided to just walk away one day, where would our sport be?”