Reaching a top speed of 197 mph, Kelly Flansaas won a race two weeks ago. Next time, he aspires to hit 200.
Flansaas, a Helena native, took to the Saskatchewan International Raceway and returned home with a trophy for his race. He competed against 12 other blown-alcohol racers. Flansaas drives what is called a funny car, which has a 1984 Corvette body.
The Independent Record visited with the racer to talk about his passion.
IR: Tell me a little about your background.
KF: I'm 36. I was born and raised in Helena. I work for NorthWest Heating and before that I worked for the cable company for 10 years.
IR: How did you get into racing?
KF: My dad (Kurt Flansaas) and I looked at the same car about four years ago. It was something my dad and I always wanted to do and he had the opportunity to buy a car.
IR: What intrigued you about racing?
KF: I've been a car guy my whole life. I like the speed and the loud noises -- all that stuff.
IR: How many races have you done?
KF: We do about seven or eight a year, so multiply that by four years.
IR: How many more races do you have this year?
KF: One more in September in Yakima. I'm tied for third in the series -- the Blown Alcohol Thunder Series. I do eighth mile and quarter mile.
IR: Was this your first race in Canada?
KF: Two years ago we went up there for the same race. It was cold and windy and no one did well.
IR: How does racing in Canada compare to here in the U.S.?
KF: It's about the same. There's not a whole lot of difference. It's a lot of loud fans and entertaining people.
IR: How long do you prepare for a race?
KF: About every waking minute. We rebuild the motor and transmission every week. We work on it all winter.
IR: How do you practice?
KF: We get practice at races. Every race is a test.
IR: Is racing about what you expected?
KF: No. We expected to get a car and it wouldn't be a lot of work. It's turned into winter, nights and weekends. We love it. I wouldn't have it any other way.
IR: Who is on your crew?
KF: It's me, my dad, my wife Kara and Jeffrey Johnson. Also, Brent Jones out of Stevensville and Ralph Azbill from Butte help a lot. Without them, we'd basically have a broke down car in the garage.
IR: Where do you race primarily?
KF: We do Spokane and Yakima in Washington. Then Medford Oregon. The closest to home is Anaconda -- we do that one at least once a year.
IR: Where do you keep your latest trophy?
KF: We keep it in the living room on the entertainment center.