Rookie racer captures checkered flag

Barbara Layton
Pictured from left to right are sponsors B&G Heating and Cooling representatives Parker Cobb and Emry Cobb; hood and main car sponsor Danielle Little, owner of Maid for A Day; driver Kris Skeen (holding hands with his wife) Jay White; sponsor Shaun Myers with daughter Makenzie Myers, owners of S&M Lawncare; Carrie Myers and son Shaun Myers, owners of Myers Rabbitry. Sponsors not pictured include: Amanda Smith, owner of Fat Albert's Pizza; Kathryn Kit Hoffman LLC Real Estate, Ken and Phyllis Skeen, driver's parents; and Annie and Zach Barnes, family.

Taking it’s name from “Endurance racing” an Enduro race is an inexpensive type of automobile racing that consist of hundreds of laps around an oval dirt track.

Local racer, Kris Skeen of Evans, is taking his love of racing and claiming checkered flags along the way.

Skeen began racing go karts in the late 90’s and had a “blast” doing it, but he had never raced a car until recently.

“At one time I started to build a four-cylinder mini-stock, a class they had local, years and years ago,” he said. “I was young, didn’t really have the money. It didn’t work out and I ended up getting rid of it; never even finished the build.”

Skeen said he and his wife, Jay White, went to races a lot when they lived within a mile of the I-77 track. He said he even worked on the parts trailer at the I-77 Raceway one year.

“I’ve always loved being around the track,” Skeen said.

The idea to build a race car came about when Danielle Little, owner of Maid for A Day, Skeen’s main sponsor, decided it was time to partner up on a new adventure.

“Danielle and I met a couple years ago, we hit it off right from the start,” White said. “She has actually served on pitt crews for modifieds. One day her and Chris looked at each other and Danielle said ‘Chris, seriously, let’s build a race car.’”

According to White, from then on Little has stood by Skeen’s side every step of the way.

“It’s not just her financial support, it’s her emotional support, her knowledge, and her education of the sport,” White said. “If you notice, on the trunk lid, we list our family. We recently added the name Little because we consider her part of the family.”

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Skeen had some extra time to work on his build.

“It’s just a complete stock car,” Skeen said. “You are not allowed to do any modifications to the engine or suspension or anything like that. It has to be an all street stock car pretty much. You just strip all the glass out of it and interior, put it on the track and run it.”

Skeen chose the number 77 for his car because it is the year he was born, but for his team, it symbolizes more than just that.

“It is the year I was born,” he said. “But, it has also become part of our catchphrase signifying #77forthewin.”

Many tracks at this time remain closed due to COVID-19; however, the Jackson County Speedway in Jackson County, Ohio, has become the home track for Skeen’s competitions.

A “rookie” track in itself, owners Ethan Button and Mark Andrus, just began promoting the Jackson County Speedway this year.

Skeen’s first Enduro racing experience was held on Sunday, May 24, at the Jackson County, Ohio, track where he captured first place, earning the checkered flag.

“It was really unexpected,” Skeen said. “I never expected to win at all. It was basically just my test run. I wanted to make sure my gearing was right for the track, and see how the car was going to handle.”

Skeen is not a “one-and-done” racer. His second race held on Saturday, May 30, he again claimed the victory and took home the checkered flag, while leading the entire race.

“I knew he was going to have success,” Little said. “He’s not just physically here dedicated, he’s mentally here dedicated, and it takes time. He spends hours researching not just the car, but the track, and himself, and every little detail matters. He is 100 percent in this.”

With more tracks preparing to open, Skeen, his wife, and sponsors are excited for many more races to come.

According to Skeen, his favorite part of racing is the adrenaline rush he gets from being on the track. He credits his wife and sponsors for being there for him and encouraging him to do what he loves.

“I support my husband, he works six days a week, he’s a wonderful man,” White said. “He volunteers with 4-H, FFA, we have ran the rabbit barn at the fair the last couple of years, we have donated our own supplies, but to watch him make his dream come true, that’s all a wife can ask for.”

Skeen’s sponsors include: Danielle Little, owner of Maid for a Day; Amanda Smith, owner of Fat Albert’s Pizza; Kathryn Hoffman, a.k.a. KIT, LLC real estate; Shaun Myers, owner of S&M Lawncare; Carrie Myers, owner of Myers Rabbitry; Ken Skeen, father; Phyllis Skeen, mother; Annie Garnes, God-daughter; Zach Barnes, his future son-in-law; and the newest sponsor – Brandon and Nicci Cobb, owners of B&G Heating and Cooling. Skeen and White want to thank all of their sponsors for making Skeen’s dream a reality.

Future goals of the group include Skeen winning Rookie of the Year and being able to work up to a modified class of racing.