Keko Perez: Mexican Driver Wins First U.S. Dirt Race

Keko Perez: Mexican Driver Wins First U.S. Dirt Race

This past weekend, Keko Perez won his first dirt late model feature at Vado Speedway Park in New Mexico. While a first win in anything is special, it held even more meaning for Perez. It was his first in the U.S. in a dirt late model.

“I am so excited about the win at Vado Speedway Park,” Perez, of Chihuahua, Mexico, said. “It is a very good achievement for me. I started from scratch on dirt racing. I went step by step to win.”

Perez roots in motorsport are in road racing. In fact, he still competes in Súper Copa with a Mercedes-Benz CLA class with a Howe tube-frame chassis as its foundation. However, Perez’s family owns Aquiles Speedway Park, a dirt oval in Mexico. When the Trucks México Series, then NASCAR-sanctioned, ran there, it captured Perez’s attention.

“We preferred the road course — there is not enough money to race NASCAR Mexico and there is a lack of good chassis,” said Perez. “We invited NASCAR’s truck division to race here [at Aquiles Speedway Park] the first year. It was so exciting, and a fun experience. It made me want to race on dirt in the U.S.”

Nowadays, Perez competes in the Categoria Libre class, which uses dirt late models, at Aquiles Speedway Park. Perez said they have 14 late models now in Chihuahua. Many of those cars were once raced by top drivers in the U.S., such as Brandon Sheppard, Johnny Scott, Stormy Scott and Chase Junghans.

Few Mexican drivers venture north. Likewise, few American drivers go south of the border. The border itself can cause issues for racers, but Perez found a way to race in both countries.

“The border agents, they don’t understand that the cars don’t have registrations,” Perez said. “So, I leave the XR-1 in El Paso and I have a Rocket Blue-Gray for racing at Aquiles Speedway Park.”

The only American tracks that Keko Perez has raced at are in New Mexico — Aztec Speedway and Vado Speedway Park. However, he has his sights set on other dirt ovals in the U.S., specifically Eldora Speedway.

“The plan is to get there next year,” said Perez. “It will be hard to do financially for our small team, but it would be worth the experience.”