Mercer Island’s Rogers speeds to karting championship

‘It can get pretty physically demanding,’ he said of the sport.

When he’s positioned behind the wheel, Kieran Rogers gets a rush when hitting top speeds with his high-performance motorized karts during regional and national competitions.

The Mercer Island High School senior driver recently notched the Pacific Grand Prix Motorsports winner series championship in the senior division (ages 16-35), Lo206 engine class in Kent.

In those races, Rogers, 18, rolled to victory at close to 60 mph, but he’s reached speeds of near 80 mph in engine class 100cc national races as a member of the Rolison Performance Group team.

While speeding along the tracks within an inch of the ground and sometimes pulling close to two g-s around the corners, Rogers said, “It can get pretty physically demanding.”

Rogers, who also has a 125cc engine Rotax kart that can hit close to 90 mph, began karting seven years ago and got into serious mode about the sport a few years later.

“Honestly, I’ve been into cars my whole life. I had a huge Hot Wheels collection when I was young and I was super into cars, so when we found out about karting, I couldn’t resist. I had to give it a go, and it stuck,” said Rogers, who won a pair of junior championships in recent years.

In his first year of national competitions in 2022, Rogers won a heat in his initial event in Las Vegas while powering through the rain, something he’s familiar with in the Pacific Northwest. It was a rewarding experience to make a splash out of the gate, he said.

Those national races are fun and intense and feature heaps of talented drivers, he added.

“It’s a blast. Not only do I love driving at the limit, I also love competing against the best in the country. That has always been my passion,” said Rogers, who will soon mix car racing into his driving arsenal.

The Reporter asked Rogers a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life:

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

It is kind of related to cars, but driving on the street can be a bit of an issue, or driving on the highway (laughs), especially when people are hogging the left lane. I just see things that people do in real life, or say, on the road, that don’t make sense to me, since I’m a racer, you know?

If you could go to dinner with one person, who would that be?

I would say Ayrton Senna, a Formula One world champion. (He died in 1994.)

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” (filmed in Seattle, it is told from the perspective of a dog whose owner is a racer).

What’s a skill that you would like to learn?

Probably learn multiple languages. Also coding and programming are very important skills in today’s world.

What super power would you like to have?

Super strength or super stamina. I’m pretty into fitness and I just think that would benefit me a lot, especially being a racer. Racing is very physical, so I think I would definitely have a leg up on the competition.