Dover Motor Speedway is honoring the life and legacy of longtime track historian George Keller, who passed away Friday after a long illness. He was 76.
Keller was one of two Dover employees known to have attended all 100 of the track’s first NASCAR Cup Series events, dating to Richard Petty’s six-lap triumph in the Mason-Dixon 300 on July 6, 1969. To date Dover Motor Speedway has hosted 104 NASCAR Cup Series races, one of only 10 tracks in the country to have hosted 100 or more Cup Series events.
A Pennsylvania native, Keller first moved to the Dover-area in 1969 after earning a job as a history teacher at Dover High School. That same year he also began working for what was then known as Dover Downs International Speedway in various capacities.
In addition to his love of racing Keller was also a record-setting scholastic coach as he led Dover High’s golf teams to 14 state championships, including seven consecutive titles from 1991-97.
On race days across more than half a century, Keller did everything from deliver champagne to the winning driver in Victory Lane to driving sponsors and fans around the Monster Mile in the pace car during pre-race ceremonies to serving as a pit road reporter.
In a Delaware State News profile in 2019, Keller also revealed the origin story of the track’s famous nickname – the Monster Mile.
“One of those Southern drivers after one of those 500-mile races, thoroughly exhausted, extremely dehydrated, crawled out of the race car at the end of the race and as he was keeling over from exhaustion was heard to have said, ‘That track is nothing but a monster,’” Keller said.
“Hence, Miles the Monster.”
Keller was officially named Dover’s track historian in 2008. In that capacity he greeted fans who purchased special packages in Victory Lane on race days and regaled them all with countless stories of long-finished races and long-retired drivers.
Also in the off-seasons Keller led thousands of fans on hundreds of track tours, showing them landmarks such as the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza, the Monster Bridge, Victory Lane and the NASCAR Cup Series garage.
Keller’s tour efforts were honored when he was named Kent County Tourism’s Person of the Year in 2015.
From 2009-2019, Keller also penned the popular “George Keller Remembers” column in each race weekend’s souvenir program, which looked back on an important race or top driver in the track’s history.
“George’s contributions will always be part of the story of Dover Motor Speedway,” said Mike Tatoian, Dover’s track president and general manager. “His love of motorsports was transparent every day and he treasured sharing racing stories with our staff as well as countless Monster Mile visitors. The entire Dover Motor Speedway family is proud to salute his legacy and sends its well wishes to his friends and family during this time.”
A service and celebration of life will be held beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26 at Bally’s Dover Casino Resort in the Diamond Room. Viewing and internment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made online in honor of George Keller to Speedway Children’s Charities, the official charity of Dover Motor Speedway. Please list George in the “in memory of” field at https://www.speedwaycharities.org/donate/. Checks can be mailed to: Speedway Children Charities, Attn: George Keller Memorial, 5555 Concord Parkway South, Concord, NC 28027.