For 20 years he drove nothing faster than a tractor while playing Emmerdale farmer Andy Sugden.
Now Kelvin Fletcher has upgraded to a £200,000 supercar after swapping the Dales for the race circuit.
In an exclusive interview today, the 33-year-old star tells how, after leaving the Yorkshire soap last summer , he is pursuing his other passion.
A million miles away from the sleepy village of Emmerdale, where he played Andy for two decades, Kelvin now lives life in the fast lane as a professional driver.
Taking to the track four years ago, Kelvin says the need for speed has always been in his blood.
“I’ve always been a risk taker and I love anything with an engine,” he said. “My dad was a mechanic and I wanted to be one too.
“Even when I started acting I still wanted to work in a garage. I was obsessed with cars. I would tinker under the dining room table, pretending it was a car. There’s stories of me going to bed with a spanner when I was a kid.”
After quitting Emmerdale last year looking for a change, he focused on rising up the racing rankings. Competing in the British Touring Cars league last year, he moved to the British GT this year.
Explaining his switch from TV to track, Kelvin said: “I was a motorsport fan growing up. Cars, bikes, F1.
“At the ripe old age of 28 I decided to give it a go. Me and my dad bought a classic Mini and went club racing. I ended up winning the championship.
“I’ve signed professional contracts. It’s certainly snowballed and it’s a dream come true. I was lucky because sponsors were willing to back me because of my profile.”
But he says being a well-known face can be a disadvantage – as other drivers see him as a threat. “I’m going against people who have raced since they were seven years old.
“I’ve got a target on my head. I’m that guy off the TV so the eyes are on me a little bit more. I sometimes feel like I’ve got a harder job than most, but I’m progressing.”
Now driving a specially adapted £200,000 Nissan GT4, Kelvin says the hazards of driving such a powerful motor doesn’t faze him.
“The dangers don’t really cross my mind. They probably should but, weirdly, when you’re at a race weekend, the safety aspect there is key.
“Motor sport is dangerous but you’re in a controlled environment, you’re all going in the same direction, there’s no lamp posts or kerbs, you’re alongside competent drivers and you’ve got more seatbelts than anything.
“I feel safer racing around a circuit than I did on what was my daily commute to Emmerdale on the M62.
“I think my mum and dad have reservations when I’ve had a near-miss or a bit of contact but it’s the last thing you think about as a driver.”
With the backing of wife Liz Marsland, who he married in a lavish ceremony in 2015, he says the whole family, including their daughter Marnie, 15 months, come to support him when he races.
But even though he hits high speeds on the track, Kelvin says he “drives like Miss Daisy” in his £3,000 Vauxhall estate at all other times.
“Until a year and a half ago I’d always had Ferraris and Porsches and then when I was leaving Emmerdale and had a family on the way I thought let’s calm it a little bit,” said the dad of one.
“I sold all my toys and I was left with my work horse, which my dad actually bought for me. It’s an estate so it’s good for a family. It couldn’t be more boring.”
And he insists he takes it easy on the open road. “I drive like Miss Daisy, I’m all about miles per gallon,” he said. “I drive slow on the roads. I always stick to the speed limit, I’ve got a clean license.
“There’s that many hazards on the road, it’s about getting from A to B in the safest, most economical way. I do my racing on the weekend, which gets it out of my system.” Looking to the future, Kelvin has got big plans. He wants to win the British GT next year – and also work on expanding his family.
“Fatherhood is amazing. It’s everything and more,” he said. “We’d love to have more children. We’re in a good position to start working on a bigger family. I’ve got my estate car already so I’m good to go. I want five kids.
“I was somewhat worried before having Marnie whether I could have that bond with a daughter. Marnie has transformed my life and she’s the best thing.
“If all else fails, if I don’t go any further with racing and I can’t get another acting job, I would happily be a stay-at-home dad.”
He insists he hasn’t ditched TV for good – and is planning to fly his family to LA for pilot season next year.
“We’ve already made plans for America. I’m going over in January for meetings but I will also look at places to stay.
“I’m in talks with some production companies in LA and have some great projects to look forward to next year.
“It’s exciting times. As an actor, I feel like I’m in a good place. Hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later that I pop up back on TV.”
As for the prospect of an eventual return to Emmerdale, Kelvin’s not giving much away. “Emmerdale is and always will be in my DNA,” he said.
“But whether I’m going back… Let’s just say the people who are convinced I am have a crystal ball that I don’t!”
At the moment Kelvin’s sights are set firmly on the racetrack and his LA ambition: “The dream is for the racing and acting to work side by side.”
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