2021 Success May Be Just the Beginning for the Up and Coming Talent
Port Royal, PA – December 29, 2021
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: Brian Rhoad / WRT SpeedWerx
Devin Hart and KHK Motorsports certainly amassed impressive statistics during the 2021 season. The stats tell quite a story, but not the whole story.
There were some personal accomplishments that will make Hart, his family, and his team smile for a long, long time to come. Before we get to those stories though, let’s take a quick look at the stats.
In 2021, the KHK Motorsports team entered competition 32 times at 10 tracks in 3 states in their FK Rod Ends / Hungry Run Wine Cellars / JDS Racing / Barron’s Racing Engines / Penske Racing Shocks / Rocket Chassis XR1 No.33K. They were victorious in 10 of those events, equating to an impressive win percentage of 31%.
A closer look is even more impressive and backs up the use of the phrase ‘career year’. Hart recorded 22 top 5’s (69%) and 27 top 10’s (84%) in those 32 outings. In 13 starts at Port Royal Speedway, the 3rd generation racer from Port Royal, PA finished on the podium 9 times, including 4 wins and 4 second place runs.
He was no ‘one track wonder’ either. At Selinsgrove Speedway, Hart entered 7 events, never finishing worse than 8th and accumulating 3 wins and 5 podium finishes in the process.
Need more evidence? The KHK Motorsports team also won at Bedford Speedway (PA) and Hagerstown Speedway (MD). The latter included 2 wins and a 4th-place finish in his only 3 starts south of the Mason-Dixon line.
The 2021 season started off strong for Devin Hart and the KHK Motorsports team. They didn’t just win early; they were winning in convincing fashion from outside the top 5 starting spots. There were wins from 6th and 10th at Port Royal Speedway in late March and early April, then a win from 9th at Hagerstown Speedway, followed by another win from 6th at Bedford Speedway just a couple weeks later.
The Hagerstown win was a career first at the Maryland facility for Hart, a track where he had been close in the past but had generally struggled. “Mom, Bill (Weimer) and I were here in this victory lane 42 years ago with my dad, so that was pretty special“, Heidi Kauffman, Hart’s mother, shared about that night.
Four wins by the end of April, especially quality wins like those, will put a smile on the faces of any race team, but Hart’s team had no idea the best was yet to come.
The next chapter to unfold came on May 15th when Hart broke through for his first career win at Selinsgrove Speedway, another place where he had come close but never been able to close the deal before. He would go on to back it up with a 2nd place finish the following week, plus two more wins in June at the 75 year old half mile.
Friday night, May 21st brought Devin Hart and the KHK Motorsports team to Port Royal Speedway for the Billy Vacek / Huey Wilcoxon Memorial race for the World of Outlaw Super Late Models and the Limited Late Models. This was an event Hart had circled on his calendar at the start of the season. On a personal level, this one mattered. It mattered a lot.
Hart and the late Billy Vacek were friends, but it was more than that. A few years back, their race shops were only a few miles apart. The pair got to know each other when Devin would stop in to talk or help Billy any way he could around the shop. As the 2018 season was getting started, Hart acquired a newer car and did some testing to shake it down. The very next day Vacek sent a text asking how the new car was. He even offered to stop at Hart’s shop and help him get familiar with the new equipment. From that day on, Billy was never more than a text or a call away when Devin had a question. Vacek even went to the track with the team about once a month, sharing his knowledge to help the talented young wheelman. The bond continued to grow throughout the 2018 season and into the 2019 season. Early in the 2019 season Billy had the opportunity to move to North Carolina to help Brandon Overton, so he headed south to pursue his dreams. He continued to teach Devin from afar until his untimely passing in an unfortunate accident that summer.
So here Hart was, just a few weeks shy of the two year anniversary of losing Billy, strapping in for his memorial event, and wanting nothing more than to make his mentor proud. I think you can say without a doubt he did just that. Hart not only won the 25-lap feature event; he dominated. He never relinquished the top spot, leading from wire-to-wire in an incredibly emotional win for himself, the entire family, and team. There wasn’t a dry eye in victory lane.
Billy’s mom was on hand to congratulate Devin, present the trophy, and pose for photos with the ecstatic team. The moment meant so much to everyone involved and it came to mean even more less than two months later when Billy’s mother sadly passed away after a battle with cancer. Hart went on to back up the win with yet another trip to victory lane at Port Royal Speedway the following Saturday night.
The season wasn’t all glory and checkered flags though. Maintaining the level of performance Hart and his team had achieved is not easy over a long, seven month season. When the weather heated up, Hart cooled down. The team went through a stretch in July and into early August when nothing seemed to go their way. There were mechanical failures, wrecks, and subpar finishes.
The sign of a great team though is how they respond to those times. The entire crew kept putting in the effort and in mid-August, the team returned to victory lane, capturing the ‘W’ at Hagerstown Speedway in special fashion. Hart battled throughout the race with cousin, and Tyson Hill Race Shop mate, Trent Brenneman and ultimately edged him to complete a memorable 1-2 family finish. It was a night that would have made the boys’ grandfather and Port Royal Speedway legend, the late Butch Renninger, proud.
Speaking of his grandfather. As successful as Devin Hart has been, not only during his stellar 2021 season but ever since he moved into the Limited Late Model division in 2014, one very meaningful race has eluded him: The Butch Renninger Memorial. The event in honor of his grandfather is arguably the race Hart would most like to win. He recorded a solid 4th place finish in this year’s 18th Annual edition of the event, but that wasn’t what Hart was after. Next year’s event is already circled on the calendar.
The team decided to venture to Portsmouth Raceway Park (PRP) in Portsmouth, OH for the Dirt Track World Championships in mid-October. It would be their first time turning laps at the well-known 3/8th-mile, high-banked oval in southern Ohio, and it would give the team a chance to measure themselves against many of the best in the country.
The 2-day event showcases the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and the Limited Late Models. Friday’s on-track activity was rained out, taking away hot laps and time trial sessions. With no opportunity to acclimate to the new surface, Hart was forced to dive into the ‘deep end of the pool’ so to speak on Saturday. He certainly didn’t sink in that deep end. He registered the 10th quickest lap of the 59 entries that went under the clock, putting himself in a solid position to make the show, something only 24 of the 59 teams would accomplish.
Following a 3rd place finish in his heat race, Hart started 16th in the feature at PRP. He proceeded to work his way into the top 10. With seven laps remaining, while running in 8th position, a mechanical failure forced Hart out of the event. Regardless of the official finish, the KHK Motorsports team had shown they belong in the conversation about the best Limited Late Model teams in the country.
When the dust had all settled on the 2021 season, Hart and his KHK Motorsports team had garnered a few more cherries on top of it all. They won two track championships (Port Royal Speedway and Selinsgrove Speedway), plus were recognized on DirtOnDirt’s ‘Best Of 2021’ list.
“The thing that stands out in my mind about our season is winning two track championships. That’s pretty cool. It’s a tough thing to accomplish“, Hart shared as he reflected on his season.
“The things we accomplished in 2021 year may change things a little for 2022, I think. We don’t have to be locked into points racing. These days you really can’t go into a season with a strict plan. Schedules change; parts can be hard to get. You have to manage your resources accordingly. We are constantly reevaluating our schedule throughout the season to do what makes sense“, Hart explained.
The upcoming 2022 season schedule will likely look similar to recent seasons for KHK Motorsports, including some travel, but who knows where it may lead them. One thing is for sure. They will look to improve on their achievements of the past year. That may sound like a tall order, but this wheelman and his team have shown they have what it takes.
“Yeah, I guess it was a career year…so far anyway“, Hart said with a grin that clearly indicated he’s not done yet. He’s got more to add to an already impressive resume.
2021 Photo Highlights
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