It’s life in the fast lane for Brier race car driver Jaden Kelly

Brier’s Jaden Kelly climbs into her #24 VW Rabbit GTI mini stock prior to the start of the July 8 racing program at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe.

Most Sunday mornings you will find Jaden Kelly helping out in the nursery room of Brookview Church where parents drop off their newborns, infants and toddlers before heading off to the church sanctuary for worship. While the serenity of the nursery room can occasionally be disrupted with the sound of a fussy or crying baby, the room is often quiet and peaceful, with no more than the sounds of a creaking rocking chair or murmurs of a sleeping infant. 

Jaden’s still and tranquil Sunday mornings at the Brier church are very different from where the 24-year-old spends many of her Saturdays during the spring and summer — the raucous venue of local high-octane auto racing, Monroe’s Evergreen Speedway.

At more than 75 mph, Jaden Kelly races past a dust cloud made when two competitors’ mini stocks drive off the back straightaway of Evergreen Speedway’s 3/8 mile track and crash on July 8.

Jaden drives the #24 mini stock for the JET Racing team, racing a modified VW Rabbit GTI to speeds of more than 75 miles per hour around the oval tracks of the Monroe racing facility. The racing is fast, loud and for Jaden, a level of excitement that she loves.

“The competitiveness is probably the best part,” Jaden said, “because I know all the other racers. We’re all — mostly — good friends before a race; after a race sometimes we can get a little heated. But I love racing with all these people.”

Jaden is just in her second year of racing — “I never did go-karts, never did midgets,” she noted. So while Jaden is still fairly green when it comes to maneuvering a race car around a track at high speeds, she does have a pair of teammates that have plenty of experience competing in mini stocks at Evergreen Speedway: her parents Erik and Tracey Kelly.

Jaden Kelly autographs a photo of her and the Jet Racing’s #24 VW Rabbit GTI for a young fan. Jaden said she wants to be an “inspiration” for kids – especially girls – who may want to become racers someday.

“They got married in ‘92 and then they decided their thing was going to be racing cars,” Jaden said. “They raced in the 90’s together. They both had mini stocks and would race against each other.”  

“So I’m really a second-generation racer,” Jaden added.

The three Kellys, plus Jaden’s boyfriend Kierdan Cheetham and some family friends, make up the JET Racing team, the J-E-T for Jaden, Erik and Tracey.

Among the stickers on the back bumper of Jaden Kelly’s #24 mini stock is a stack of chocolate chip cookies; Jaden is affectionately nicknamed the Cookie Queen due to the seemingly endless supply of cookies shared by the JET Racing team on race nights.

The family was racing a Hornet classification race car in 2021 with a different driver when Jaden was invited to take a try at driving it. “I would take that car out for a couple laps (of practice),” she explained. “I kind of got the hang of it and got an adrenaline rush from taking it out.”

Then, before the start of the 2022 season, the Kelly’s noticed a mini stock was for sale in the area. “My mom really wanted it and it just kind of worked out and we got it,” Jaden said. 

With that purchase, the younger Kelly’s racing career in the #24 Rabbit GTI was given the green flag and the JET Racing team was firmly aligned: Jaden driving the car, dad Erik handling most of the pit work and mom Tracey spotting during races, promoting the team on social media and baking a big supply of chocolate cookies to bring to the track on race days.

With her mom’s dedication of having a never-ending supply of chocolate chip cookies in their pit, Jaden has a now-well-used nickname around Evergreen Speedway: the Cookie Queen.

Jaden’s rookie season last year was a big success as the 2017 graduate of Mountlake Terrace High School finished seventh out of 26 racers in the season-ending points’ ranking. ”It was mostly due to just finishing races,” she admitted.

Jaden believes an intentionally cautious approach out on the track led to her outstanding first season. “It was just me driving — driving at first. Driving and racing are two different things,” Jaden explained. “When I first started I was just driving it. I was learning everything, letting people go way fast by me.”

Even though she drove cautiously last year, Jaden confessed that her time behind the wheel was nerve-wracking. 

“At first it was really scary,” she said. “After a lot of races I would come back and be crying because I was so stressed out. There was so much happening. I think my very first practice I came out of one of the corners and I hit the front wall and it popped my tire and it scared me a lot.”

Now in her second year piloting the #24, Jaden says she is much more comfortable in the driver’s seat and as a result is becoming more aggressive on the track. “Now I’m actually racing right next to someone, finding the spot to get right by them,” she said.

Jaden Kelly watches as a young fan climbs into the driver’s seat of her #24 VW Rabbit GTI during a fan meet-and-greet time prior to the start of the July 8 racing program at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe.

As Jaden is pushing harder this year for better finishes in heat races and main events, she finds herself mixing it up more with competing race cars. That inevitably has led to being in more on-the-track accidents.

“Crashing is scary,” Jaden admitted. “I had a really bad crash earlier this season. So it was actually one of the practices where someone was spun in one of the corners. I didn’t see it because I have a very limited view … I didn’t react well and I spun right into him.”

Jaden was OK after that incident and has escaped unscathed physically after a couple more crashes this year. But the collisions — plus some engine, clutch and overheating issues — has the #24 outside the top 10 in accumulative driver points so far this season. 

Despite more race DNF’s (did not finish) than last year, Jaden and the JET Racing team aren’t discouraged. Jaden raced to a fifth-place finish in the mini stock main event on July 8 — her best finish of the year — and the team still has four more race dates before the mini stock season ends on Sept. 9.

For Jaden, who also attends classes at Cascadia College and tutors at Edmonds College, racing has become a big part of her life. And she hopes to continue going fast and making noise at Evergreen Speedway for some time.

“I definitely want to keep going as long as I can,” she said.

To follow Jaden Kelly and the JET Racing Team, click their Facebook page at

Jaden Kelly / JET Racing remaining 2023 mini stock race schedule (all races at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe)

– Friday, July 21 (Day One of Summer Showdown weekend)

– Saturday, Aug. 19 (Part of Napa Auto Parts ARCA 150 program)

– Saturday, Sept. 2 (During Evergreen State Fair, part of Figure 8 Mania program)

– Saturday, Sept. 9 (Part of PRCBD Championship Night 1 program)

— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski

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