April 11, 1920 - Alexander, NY
1961 - Phoenix, Arizona
Keller participated in the NASCAR
Strictly Stock series from 1949 to 1956 with 29 career starts. He won
two races during the 1954 season and is the only driver in the history
of NASCAR's top division to have won a race in a foreign-built car,
winning the 1954 Grand National road-race at the Linden Airport in New
Jersey, driving a Jaguar.
Keller began a transition to champ cars. He drove in the AAA and USAC
Championship Car series, racing in the 1954-1959 and 1961 seasons with
32 starts, including the Indianapolis 500 races in all but the first of
those years. He finished in the top ten 13 times, with his best finish
in 2nd position, in 1956 at Atlanta and in 1961 at Milwaukee. His best
Indy finish was 5th in 1961.
died as a result of injuries sustained in a Champ car crash at the
Arizona State Fairgrounds.
June 13, 1954: Al
Keller poses with his 1948 XK-120 Jaguar sports
coupe at New Jersey's Linden Airport. NASCAR's first
road-course event, the International 100, was staged
over two miles of the airport's runways on June 13.
The event was open to both American stock cars and
foreign sports cars. Twenty-one of the entries in
the 43-car starting field were foreign cars. It
remains the only win for a foreign-made automobile
in NASCAR's premier series.
Great model built by 'Steve'
Al Keller 1920-1961
Al Keller was born April 11, 1920 in
Buffalo, New York. Growing up in Buffalo,
Keller learned early on the harshness of
winter in the north. Occasional trips to
Florida gave Keller the desire to live in
the southís warmer climate. At age 28,
Keller migrated from White Plains, New York
for sunny Tampa, Florida in 1948. He became
a business partner with Frank Derby, Jr. in
a speed equipment business and began driving
Derbyís modified car at Plant Field,
Speedway Park, Phillips Field and many other
tracks in Florida.
1949, Keller entered W. O. Taylorís
No.89 Ford in the
NASCAR Strictly Stock event at
Langhorne starting 22nd and finishing 8th.
In 1950, Keller drove Taylorís No.89 in 3
NASCAR Grand National Division events. In
1952, Keller drove Perry Smithís
No.23 Studebaker and Ford in Grand National
competition finishing 11th at Palm Beach
Speedway in West Palm Beach, Florida. In
1953, Keller moved to George Millerís
No.31 Oldsmobile and Hudson making 4 starts
in the Grand National Division.
In 1954, Keller made 12 starts in the NASCAR
Grand National Division driving George
Millerís No.23 Hudson. He won the
200-lap event on the Ĺ-mile dirt Oglethorpe
Speedway at Savannah and recorded 2nd place
finishes at Langhorne and at Wilson Speedway
in North Carolina. He qualified on the pole
for the 133-lap event on the ĺ-mile dirt
Charlotte Speedway. He drove Paul
Whitemanís No.4 Jaguar in the 50-lap
event on the 2-mile road course at Linden
Airport in Linden, New Jersey where he
qualified 7th and won the event and a purse
In May 1955, Keller qualified the
Offenhauser powered Kurtis Kraft 2000 22nd
in the Indianapolis
500. A crash on lap 54 would eliminate him
from the event.
Keller fielded his own No.64 Chevrolet in 4
NASCAR Grand National events in 1956. He
finished 2nd at West Palm Beach and 6th on
the beach course at Daytona Beach. In May,
Keller qualified 28th for the Indianapolis
500 in an Offenhauser powered Kurtis Kraft
4000 and finished 14th.
In May of 1957, Keller qualified 8th in an
Offenhauser powered Kurtis Kraft 500G for
the Indianapolis 500. He was eliminated from
the event by a crash on lap 75. Keller
returned to the Brickyard in 1958, where he
qualified 21st and finished 11th in the Indy
500 driving an Offenhauser powered Kurtis
Kraft 500G2. For 1959 Keller qualified 28th
in an Offenhauser-powered Kuzma for the Indy
500 but was eliminated on lap 163 when the
1961, Keller qualified 26th for the Indy 500
driving an Offenhauser-powered Phillips and
finished 5th. In November, Keller traveled
to Phoenix, Arizona, to compete on the
famous one-mile dirt track there and set a
one-lap record. During the 100 mile-race,
Keller was involved in a crash and was
In 1965, Floridaís Governor Haydon Burns in
tribute to Kellerís contributions to Florida
Stock Car Racing as a long time track
promoter commissioned the Florida Governorís
Hello! I am
contacting you about a photograph used on
saw a picture on the Al Keller page that is
my grandfather Sid
Keller . The photo was sent to the
Mt. Clemens Race Track webpage by the son of
Al Schultz (owner of the 000 race car) and
my grandfather Sid Keller drove for him. The
photograph on Al Keller's page is the same
photo from the Mt. Clemens Race Track page
and according to the caption my grandfather
is the driver in that picture.
This is a
post from the grandson on the Mt. Clemens
page and link to the page:
5/3/2005 - Eric Schulz
- In approximately 1952 my grandfather,
Henry Schulz and father, Al Schulz purchased
Iggy Katonaís T3 roadster. They rebuilt it
and renumbered it as 000 (H Schulz & Son
Trucking). It was run at both Motor City and
Mt Clemens for a couple of years until
everyone converted over to sprint cars. The
sprint cars were quite unusual in that they
ran Chrysler Hemis. At the same time they
got into the late model stock racing running
mostly Dodges and Plymouths.
My dad had a knack for chassis setup and
could get the old Chrysler six cylinder cars
to out perform many of the V8s. During the
1950s those cars were some of the top
competitors around. They won several
championships. The original t roadster body
is still in our family, still bringing back
........Those were some of the most
memorable days of my life. The traveling to
all the different tracks, Mt. Clemens, Motor
City, Checker Flag (Canada), Jackson, Flat
Rock and more.
During those years we had many very good
drivers. Bob Sampson, Jack Goodwin, Skeeter
Ross and Sid
Keller. Sid Keller bringing the
from him on the Mt. Clemens page was:
11/10/2009 - Eric Schulz
For you old timers (race time 1952-1960) you
may remember my dad Al Schulz. He teamed up
with a guy named
Sid Keller and produced some
pretty good race cars. The number ''000''
Dodge , Plymouths and sprint cars. You may
remember the sprint for the monster Chrysler
Hemis he ran. He was known for his ability
to get a car to handle and was able to get
cars of lower classes to compete with the
higher powered ones.
He won a number of championships in the mid
1950s at Mt. Clemens and Motor City. He past
away October 28th. He and Sid had held their
friendship all these years and I know Sid
along with all of us will deeply miss him.
His first race car was purchased by my
grandfather from Marion Adams. It was a T
roadster that Iggy Katona had built and
driven to many wins (the T-3 car) Lucky me!!
I still have that body. It''s something I
could never part with.
grandfather Sid Keller passed away today and
I wanted to write to you to tell you Thank
you for your time and if you know of any
information about my grandfathers racing
career I would appreciate any information
you might have as I plan to compile some old
photos and clippings for my family (of which
I have a few).
Thank you for your time,
Mrs. Chi Benedict
Granddaughter of Sid Keller
The People of NASCAR:
NASCARís First Road
By Frank Morrison,
the beginning Bill
France, Sr. only
allowed NASCAR to run on
oval tracks. Hence Go
Fast Turn Left. A nice
variety of ovals between
1/2 a mile to 2 miles.
Nascar tackled itís
first road course on
June 13, 1954 when race
promoters staged the
track was developed off
the Linden New Jersey
Airport out of runways
and taxiways. To make
things a bit more
interesting foreign auto
makers were invited to
participate. This was
not the first time
happened in NASCAR
competition and as we
know now it wouldnít be
the last. The best a
foreign car did to this
point in NASCAR history
was Lloyd Mooreís
pole at Langhorne
Linden NASCAR made a
race within a race for a
trophy going to the top
foreign car entered into
the event. The two mile
track had four left
turns and a right hand
bend. The total purse of
$5,020 drew a large
crowd of hopefuls. 21
foreign cars and 22
domestics qualified for
the inaugural race.
Sleek Jaguars, MGs,
and even a Porsche
lined up on the
starting grid with the
Plymouths, Fords and
a couple of Henry J's
(No Chevys made
the starting field).
Buck Baker won the
pole at a blistering
80.536 mph driving his
trusty Olds 88. The
outside pole went to
Herb Thomas in his
Hudson while M.R.
ďEricĒ Peterson in a
Jaguar qualified 3rd.
Whiteman let New
York Native Al Keller
enter his car and
qualified 7th in the
Jaguar. Kellerís only
NASCAR win came in
Savannah in March.
Nearly 10,000 fans paid
to sit in the
grandstands for $4 and
$3 to roam the course.
Buck Baker lead
for 9 laps before being
challenged by Hershel
McGriff ended up going
off course after locking
horns with Buck and Herb
Thomas took the lead
during the scuffle.
Thomas and Baker swapped
the lead a few times
before Al Kellerís
Jaguar took the lead
just before the halfway
point. Kellerís light
Jag left the field
behind and ended up
winning by 1/2 mile in
front of 2nd place
Joe Eubanksí Hudson.
Baker ended up finishing
3rd and Jags ended up
take the next three
During the celebration
in victory lane Keller
said he was quitting the
Modified circuit and
joining AAA tour. He had
his sites on the Indy
500. Keller ran in 6
Indy 500s with his best
finish a 5th in the 1961
classic. Keller died on
Nov 19, 1961 after a
fiery crash at Phoenix
while running in an Indy
first road course for
the Grand National
Circuit was a great
success NASCAR would not
return to Linden for 2
1/2 years. Though road
course driving would
never become the marques
event in NASCAR Grand
National racing it is
still fun to see the
rednecks take a few left
turns here and there.
Rusty Wallace, Jeff
Gordon, Dale Earnhardt,
Ricky Rudd, and
Terry Labonte like
the checks they received
from Watkins Glenn,
Riverside Iím sure.
The best racing Iíve
ever seen is Rusty and
Jeff going at it in the
hairpin turn at Sonoma.
Though most news outlets reported that Al Keller raced the last
foreign car in a NASCAR race in 1954 (when he won in a Jaguar at
Linden, N.J.), a quick look at "Forty Years of Stock Car Racing"
revealed the following: the last time a foreign car competed in
NASCAR was in 1958, when the Crown America International Stock
Car Race was held at Riverside International Raceway in
California. On that day, 46 cars started the 100-lap, 263-mile
event -- including two Citroens, a Goliath and a Renault.
won the race in a Ford.
NASCARís first brush with Ďimportsí
announcement of its 2007 entry into
Nextel Cup moved numberless trivia experts to note
Toyota would not be the first overseas nameplate to
run with the good olí boys. There have been at least
eight interlopers, with Jaguar leading the pack.
Jaguarís NASCAR effort requires pawing through
records a half-century old and only marginally more
dependable than Enronís or WorldComís. Yet there is
sufficient information on driver Al Keller, an East
Coast road racer, and other NASCAR moments to make
some fascinating footnotes.
On June 13, 1954, racing at the Linden Airport in
New Jersey, a 43-car field produced three NASCAR
was NASCARís first road race.
Kellerís win in the No. 4 Jaguar XK120
fixed-head coupe remains the only import win in
NASCARís major seriesóthen called Grand
because Keller had won on an oval in March at
Oglethorpe Speedway in Savannah, Georgia, he
became the first NASCAR pilot to win on both a
road course and an oval in a single season.
A fourth milestone
might have occurred. Because sports car luminary
Bob Grossman drove, it might have been the first
appearance of Gucci loafers at a NASCAR event.
Expertsí opinions are divided on this.
Twenty-one import makes started at Linden, including
Jaguar (13), MG (five),
Austin-Healey (one), Morgan (one) and
Porsche (one). Four Jaguars finished in the
top-10 and five finished in the bottom-10. The
Morgan finished 41st (in case youíre wondering).
Born in Alexander, New York, in 1920, Keller was a
postwar USAC midget and champ car driver usually
described as a journeyman. From 1955 to 1961 he
competed in six Indianapolis 500s, finishing two of
them, and in more than two dozen other major AAA and
Keller ran almost as many NASCAR races, successfully
transitioning from USAC ovals to NASCAR ovals and
from oval racing to road racing. In addition to his
Linden win, Keller turned in two other noteworthy
Grand National performances in 1954. As noted, he
won at Oglethorpe Speedway, and he took the pole at
Charlotte Speedwayónot the superspeedway but the
three-quarter-mile dirt oval where NASCAR sanctioned
its first event ever.
Keller went head to head with NASCARís hot dogs
during the 1954 season. Buck Baker won the
pole at Linden and finished third, with Hershel
McGriff and Lee Petty in the field.
Herb Thomas took the pole at Savannah, and Baker
won at Charlotte after qualifying second behind
Keller raced in 29 Grand National races from 1949 to
1956, winning two, logging seven top-five and a
dozen top-10 finishes, and taking one pole. In 1954,
the only year in which Keller ran more than four
Grand National races, he won two of 13 races, had
six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes and won his one
pole. As Marlon Brando might have put it, ďKella
coulda been a contenda.Ē
NASCARís effort to reach out to the international
community ended in 1958 at the Riverside Grand
National race, where a pair of CitroŽns, a
Renault and a Goliath competed. The
CitroŽns finished 18th and 19th, and the Goliath
finished 27th. The Renault posted a DNF. The
Goliath, still running at the finish, might have
been the last import to cross a NASCAR top-series
finish line before Toyota does so.
And what of Al Keller? After years of seat hunting
Keller got a full-season ride in the Konstant Hot
Phillips-Offy for 1961. He opened the season
with a fifth- place at the Indianapolis 500, notched
four top-five finishes and won two poles, the second
at the November race in Phoenix. There, 40 laps into
the race, he wrecked in Turn Four and was killed.
Thanks to Toyota, the memory of Al Kellerís Jaguar
winóand Goliathís lone appearanceówill endure.
Al Keller Strictly Stock DRIVER Statistics
Copyright © 2003
by Roland Via. All rights reserved. Revised:
06/08/12 08:11:05 -0400.
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