T.J.’s Notebook: Kemenah Called off the Bench for Surprise Knoxville Effort

Chad Kemenah (Serena Dalhamer photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

(August 9, 2021) — Chad Kemenah has spent most of adult life up and down the road with various sprint cars series most of his adult life. 2021 has been a different experience for Kemenah only running a handful of races. Instead, Kemenah has been focused on his son Creed’s micro sprint program and driving a semi-truck up and down the road hauling cargo rather than race cars.

“I have not raced very much. I’ve been trying to get Creed to a racetrack every weekend. We have done quite a bit of traveling with the micro sprint. The only races I’ve run were with Chad and Chris Wilson trying to get their car going.”

Chad Kemenah reached a point this summer where being in Knoxville, Iowa in August for the Knoxville Nationals didn’t seem realistic. Kemenah felt earlier in the year he had a deal that looked solid to go to Knoxville, but as the summer wore on that situation seemed less likely to happen.

That was before some extra motivation from his two children and a random text message lined up a solid effort for the Knoxville Nationals.

“My kids were on me about going to Knoxville. They asked me if we were still going. I had been talking to someone else about driving their car. I wasn’t going to say anything until it was a done deal, and started to sense it wasn’t going to work, so I told the kids about three weeks ago that I wasn’t even sure if I was going to go.”

Kemenah, who started from the pole position three years ago for the Knoxville Nationals finale, could sense his children’s disappointment in not going to the Knoxville and motivated him to send out a few more text messages and phone calls. One of those messages was to TKS Motorsports co-owner Troy Renfro. Both parties knew each other but were not close due to Renfro always working on race cars and Kemenah busy keeping his small team afloat with only one other crew member while both were on the road with the World of Outlaws.

“I texted Troy while on the road with my semi-truck and he had a deal going at the time. By Wednesday we had talked two or three times and asked me if there was any way I could be there by Saturday.”

Kemenah jumped at the opportunity and headed to Knoxville for the weekly program on July 24th. Since then, Kemenah has made three starts for TKS Motorsports with the best being a 16th place run on July 24th.

Kemenah conveyed that everything seems to be going well considering the short time frame the deal came together combined with Kemenah’s lack of seat time so far this season.

“We’ve only gotten to race two times and we’ve done okay. We need to find a little bit more speed for qualifying. We get along great. I’ve been out there the past two weekends and its almost too good to be true.”

When Kemenah was asked if he would have made the phone call had his kids not put pressure on him to go to Nationals, its possible he wouldn’t have made the phone call to Renfo.

“I probably wouldn’t have to be quite honest. I would have just taken (Creed) racing somewhere.

Taking his son racing was also baked into the plan of Kemenah’s Knoxville Nationals effort with TKS.

“I don’t like Creed not racing very much. Creed and my daughter rode out with me last week and I told them on the way home (Creed) has not gotten to race lately due to weather and the last two weeks going to Knoxville.”

The answer to that was leaving early for Knoxville, stopping at Coles County Speedway in Mattoon, Illinois where Creed ended up winning the feature event on Saturday.

Due to the short time frame everything came together, Kemenah is realistic about success at the Nationals despite labeling himself as being terrible at dealing with not winning.

“I’m still the world’s worst loser and I’m not ready to say I’m retired, but I’d like to make the feature on Saturday. That would be a hell of an accomplishment for only getting together and racing two or three times. That would be pretty cool.”


• Zeb Wise has been named to the second entry for CJB Motorsports filling in for Buddy Kofoid at the Knoxville Nationals. Kofoid recently suffered hand and foot injuries in a pavement late model crash in Wisconsin. Despite working with his cast to try and get comfortable in the car, Kofoid has opted to step aside for Nationals.

Wise has been running with the All Star Circuit of Champions with a car he co-owns with Wayne Priddy.

• The Front Row Challenge takes place tonight at Southern Iowa Speedway. Terry McCarl’s annual “Party where a race broke out” has seen a great influx of cash and contingency bonuses coming in along with all the other giveaways McCarl secures throughout the year leading up to the big event. This year the Front Row Challenge will be broadcast for the first time on Floracing.com

• As of Monday evening 99, entries were filed for the Knoxville Nationals. Roth Motorsports has the only noteworthy TBA on the list as the replacement for the suspended Aaron Retuzel had not been officially announced as of Tuesday morning.

This year’s entry list is particularly eclectic with several teams fielding different numbers and liveries to honor throwback paint schemes for the 60th edition of the Nationals.