Driver Development Never Stops at Kelly Moss Road Racing
Thursday, September 20, 2018

It is fair to say when it comes to drivers and sponsors, Kelly Moss Road and Race (KMR) truly makes it personal.

Celebrating KMR’s 30-year anniversary takes a back seat for team owner Jeff Stone. He has established a reputation for not only developing race cars, but also the drivers who race them.

Continuing that effort, Stone was on hand for the recent Formula 1 event at Silverstone which also featured the Porsche Supercup Championship. The visit was just another chapter in a relentless effort to foster the career development of KMR drivers, in this case 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama champion driver Jake Eidson.

KMR has a well-earned reputation for looking for young talent and then continuing to help them throughout their career. Central to that progress is the role relationships play with both the parents of the young drivers as well as the sponsors and charity initiatives that KMR takes on to support them.

Racing for Children’s is the centerpiece of the team’s current championship-contending youngster Roman De Angelis, who has two wins so far in the 2018 GT3 Cup Challenge USA and had one win in the 2018 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, which wrapped up last month. His Porsche GT3 Cup machine carries the handprints of young patients as a symbol of the partnership with MPT and Children’s of Alabama.

“Jeff (Stone) has been an incredible partner for Racing for Children’s – he is ‘all in’ and we feel blessed to know him and to be involved,” said Greg Hodges of Racing for Children’s. “I think when he toured Children’s of Alabama and saw what the kids were like, what they were facing, and the courage they displayed it just captured his heart. Ever since, he’s done everything in his power to support it. You couldn’t ask for a better partner-everyone there has been fantastic. (KMR Logistics Manager) Charissa (Cobb), there is no end to the list of what she’s taken on to make this successful. 

“(Stone) is such a good coach for the drivers too, he really knows what he is talking about. He gets it, Jake (Eidson) gets it, and you can tell Roman gets it. He is inspired by those handprints on the car every time he gets behind the wheel. We are thrilled to work with Jeff and Kelly Moss.”

“It’s been great working with Jeff (Stone) and how he has gotten me involved with Racing for Children’s and his team in general,” said De Angelis, from Belle River, Ontario. “I don’t know if I would have had the opportunity to race in the (United) States for financial reasons but getting to race with Jeff has put me around one of the best groups of people who are so positive.”

De Angelis is hoping to extend the legacy of KMR success and has already recognized the opportunities that the team has worked to develop for him.

“Jeff really pushes drivers to move up to whatever series that they want,” said De Angelis. “My goal is to either drive in Europe, WEC or IMSA and he is really pushing me to reach that goal. He’s been really helpful trying to get me sponsors, connecting me with people and getting rides. He’s played a huge role for me this year. It’s like a family. Jeff always has all of these cookouts and plans these fun things all the time. He also comes to Canada and goes to my Canadian Cup races.”

The Children’s of Alabama KMR livery that De Angelis races with is one that has an established record of success, having won the 2017 GT3 Cup Challenge USA championship with Eidson behind the wheel. Eidson, who earned the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Scholarship from IMSA, Porsche and Yokohama to be able to run the 2017 season, is now working on building his way up the Porsche ladder in Europe.

The progression from winning the scholarship to managing a championship season to building a career in Europe is all part of Stone’s guidance.

“Jeff (Stone) has taken Jake under his wing and has been more hands on and involved than other teams that Jake has worked with,” said Jake’s father Mark Eidson. “With other teams it was more of a business relationship whereas with Jeff it’s more of a family relationship. 

“He was the one who encouraged us to apply for the scholarship and that was a huge bonus for us – that sealed the deal.  Jeff has committed the resources to bringing on the most talented and qualified people working on his team. He’s looking down the road, and has a vision for Jake. There is a premium to having the best but at the end of the season it yields dividends.”

“One of the biggest things working with Kelly Moss that really stands out to me is that I feel like more than just a team member, I feel like I am a part of a family,” said Jake Eidson. “It makes me feel like I am a part of something bigger. Jeff and everyone have made me feel like I am one of them which is really comforting. They have done a ton for me off the track that really strengthens that bond. 

“Jeff has helped because of his connections and his experience. He has a ton of resources which have helped grow my career and he knows the right path for me to take. I don’t come from a background of racing and no one in my family knows about racing so it’s been really nice to have Jeff in my corner to fight for us and to show us the right path.”

Eidson’s success in 2017 followed the fortunes of 2016 GT3 Cup Challenge USA champion Jesse Lazare, who won the championship with KMR and then moved directly to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to claim a Rolex 24 At Daytona win in his very first race on board a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

“We were very clear about what we wanted—we knew what we had with KMR and we knew we wanted to have that professionalism and the knowledge he (Stone) brings,” said Jesse’s father, Gordie Lazare.  “This is such an expensive sport, you can’t make mistakes. 

‘You have to make the right call when you decide what team to be with and Kelly Moss had a winning formula. It’s too expensive to take a chance on a team that thinks they know how to win. You have to be where you know you can have results.”

That decision paid dividends not only with the championship for Lazare, but also his approach as he moved up in the sport.

“When Jesse got off the track, he’d say ‘I need to go talk to Jeff.’ He is like home, like a second father for Jesse when I am not around,” said Gordie Lazare. “Jeff was there at Daytona because of Jesse–he knows racing more than just about anyone. But it wasn’t just the racing he was supporting him with—it was love, really.”

That passion for his drivers must be tied with performance, and that is another important tool that KMR puts to use.

“My engineer Chiel Bos is a very important counterpart to me and the whole Kelly Moss family and we have become very dear friends,” said Stone. “We share an intense love for racing and developing these drivers both young and old.  We also both have an insane passion for fishing – we are both fierce competitors no matter what we are doing! We try to make time for fishing together at least a few times a year to and involve the team and drivers for a team building experience.”

With up to seven entries for some of event weekends, the KMR roster of racers once again sees a large group of motivated racers that are making the team their home in 2018. The roster includes Alan Metni in the No. 99 VICCI Car Auctions AM Motorsports/Kelly-Moss Porsche, and the No. 61 of Scott Welham in Platinum as well as four Gold Cup entries with Greg Palmer in the No. 44; Kurt Fazekas in the No. 52; Wayne Ducote in the No. 73 and the No. 85 entry of Brent Asplundh.

Each of them have continued to develop this season with KMR support helping every driver reach new goals including wins and strengthened championship campaigns.

With a long-established history of providing their drivers with everything they need for race weekends, the KMR environment supports development for every one of their drivers, whether it is their first race weekend or their 50th.

“We had a very fun race,” said Palmer of his outing at Sebring this year. “This is the best finish I’ve gotten here, so that’s good. For my second year doing this, I’m glad that a podium is within our sights.This Kelly Moss team is so focused. They know what they’re doing, and they know what you’re dealing with, it’s very confidence-inspiring.”

KMR has stayed true to its Porsche roots through the decades – having competed in every single GT3 Cup Challenge USA event since the series first formed in 2005.