Jack Daniel's Racing driver Rick Kelly will forge his name further into the V8 Supercar history books when he starts his 100th event at the Falken Tasmania Challenge at Symmons Plains Raceway this weekend.
At 26 years of age, Kelly will become the youngest driver in the 50-year history of the Australian Touring Car Championship to start 100 rounds, the 2006 V8 Supercar champion and two-time Bathurst winner wresting the mantle from brother - and Jack Daniel's Racing team-mate - Todd, who reached the century mark at Oran Park in 2007.
Rick will become the 30th driver to compete in 100 ATCC events, following in the footsteps of legends such as Peter Brock, Allan Moffat, Dick Johnson, Mark Skaife and John Bowe, who holds the all-time record at 225 events, but already holds a special place in the history books as the youngest-ever event winner and youngest victor at Bathurst, achieving both feats when winning the 2003 Mount Panorama event alongside Greg Murphy at the tender age of 20 years, eight months and 25 days.
For the record, Kelly will be 26 years, four months and twelve days old when he takes to the track aboard the #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore at Symmons Plains Raceway, but has been around a long time since making his series debut, aged 18, alongside Nathan Pretty in a Kmart Racing Holden Commodore VX at the 2001 Queensland 500.
“One hundred rounds is quite a bit and it makes you feel a little bit old and makes you look at what you have achieved in your career at this point," he reflected, "but it's definitely not the sort of thing you think about too much. It just gives you a refresher and make you realise just how long you've been in the category.
“I'm probably not thinking too much about that. I'm more focused on thinking about the championship position I've got in front of me, which is something I'm really excited about. To be fifth in points at this early stage for the new team is a great success in itself. The Jack Daniel's Racing crew and everyone within Kelly Racing is extremely excited about our position and excited about where we're heading in the future, with the development items we've got in planning and just our future plans in general."
Although still relatively young in age, Kelly has amassed one of the most impressive records in V8 Supercars in his career to date, which has been exclusively in Holden Commodore machinery.
He won back-to-back Bathurst crowns with Murphy in 2003 and 2004, before going on to win the 2006 V8 Supercar Championship Series title with the Kelly family-owned HSV Dealer Team. Now driving for Jack Daniel's Racing as part of the all-new Kelly Racing operation, he is competing alongside older brother Todd for the time as full-time team-mates, although the pair have teamed up twice in their career for endurance races, finishing second at both Sandown and Bathurst in 2006.
Kelly Jr has previous form at Symmons Plains, taking a race win at the short and demanding circuit in 2004, while Todd - who will start his 124th event in Tasmania - won the first race at Symmons Plains last season, taking the first V8 Supercar race win for Jack Daniel's.
The full list of other drivers to reach the 100-round mark in the 50-year history of the Australian Touring Car Championship is as follows:
John Bowe, Mark Skaife, Peter Brock, Glenn Seton, Dick Johnson, Tony Longhurst, Russell Ingall, Larry Perkins, Steven Richards, Craig Lowndes, Greg Murphy, Paul Morris, Garth Tander, Steven Johnson, Jim Richards, Jason Bright, Jason Bargwanna, Cameron McConville, Colin Bond, Todd Kelly, Steven Ellery, John Faulkner, Murray Carter, Jason Richards, Brad Jones, Paul Radisich, Mark Larkham, Paul Weel and Allan Moffat.