Racer Keck has an active pastime

PLYMOUTH — It’s no secret that many of today’s senior citizens are leading active lives, but former Plymouth resident Denny (Dennis) Keck brings a new meaning to the term active.
At age 65, he spends much of his time competing on the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) circuit and with his 1990 Corvette. He’s been racing on the circuit for the past seven years.
Keck graduated in 1965 from Plymouth High School and within five years had made his way to Wheatland, Wy.
“I always like the wide open spaces,” he said. But his love of his hometown brings him back for a visit one or two times each year. “I didn’t forget where I came from.”
Although he considers himself semi-retired, Keck keeps his longtime auto repair business going in Wyoming. Keck says he keeps enough work going to keep racing.
Keck said he used to race in the Plymouth area in the 1960s and loved to take his 1965 Olds to a track in Osceola. He said, “I guess I never got it out of my blood.”
Now he travels across the country to race tracks. This year he has competed in such places as in Phoenix, Ariz.; Denver, Colo.; Topeka, Kan.; Pomona, Calif. (placed in the top five at the world finals); LasVagas and or course, Indianapolis.
In Indianapolis last Labor Day, he was competing in the Nationals after racking up enough points throughout the year’s competition to qualify.
“I plan to keep racing as long as I can pass the physical,” he said.
Competitors are required to pass a physical every two years. “I have friends who are 75 and 80 who continue to race,” he said.
One of Keck’s biggest fans is his wife Eileen. Eileen, who works as a secretary/receptionist at a power plant in Wyoming, travels with her husband as much as possible. According to Denny, they often take trips in their 1944 two-door sedan. They also own a 1927 Model T Roadster, 1965 GTO and a 1957 Chevy.
Keck advises other seniors to stay active as well.
He said, “They need to fill their lists of things they have always wanted to do that either time or money kept them from doing and just go for it. It can start at 65.”
He has also managed to pass on his enthusiasm for life to his sons Rick and Steve and his seven grandchildren. He said he started Rick in motocross racing when he was 10 and he continues to race. Steve ended his racing to devote his time to his five children. However, Keck says the kids have motorcycles and do trail racing.
Keck said had taken up motocross during his earlier years in Wyoming since they didn’t have drag strips, but eventually had to give it up.
“I just got too old,” he said. “It’s a young man’s sport and very physical.”
Keck said he loves coming to Plymouth to see his two sisters, Nancy Keck Smith and Sue Keck Wagoner Geist. Two brothers, Gary and Greg, are deceased.
Denny, son of Johnny and Dorothy Keck, said many people still remember his father as a banjo/guitar player.
He is proud of his two years in the Marine Corps and his 23 years in the National Guard. Keck said, “We’ve been blessed.”
Sue Geist said, “I keep telling Denny that when you are 65 you’re supposed to slow down, but he just wants to keep going faster.”