Brother Clayton Ketcher (Columbia) races to compete while balancing college and time with his chapter.
The camera pans across Watkins Glen International, affectionately known as “The Glen,” on a sunny summer afternoon. The pack of Mazda MX-5s move in a two-wide formation down the road course that has hosted Formula 1, NASCAR, and IndyCar races for decades. It’s considered to be the Mecca of North American road racing with segment nicknames like The Boot, Heel, and Chute.
On this sunny day in June of 2023, Clayton Ketcher (Columbia) is strapped into his Number 19 car, white livery with a green racing stripe. The video footage is deceiving, as it almost always is for motorsports. The only sign that these relatively lightweight machines, almost 1,000 pounds lighter than a NASCAR car, are moving at over 100 mph is the high-pitched screeching from their engines, a trait that led spectators to refer to them as a pack of angry bees.
The cars begin to finish their formation lap and head toward the green flag, marking the start of the race. They tighten up. The clock is set for 45 minutes. You’d be lucky to squeeze a textbook between the bumpers of the leading four cars.
“Are you ready to be entertained,” says the broadcaster.
Into the first corner, several cars go three-wide.
“Oooh there’s a spin!”
And then chaos.
Hailing from Sacramento, Calif., Ketcher grew up loving cars. Unlike the racing dynasty families that seem to dominate motorsports, Ketcher’s family had no experience with it.
“I did my own research and kept seeing that all of these drivers got started with karting. I basically bugged my parents until they finally let me give it a try.”
All of this would seem like a lot for any 21-year-old, but it becomes even more impressive when you consider that Ketcher is also a full-time student double majoring in German and Economics.
When he moved across the country to New York City for college, it was his father’s fraternity experience that inspired him to consider joining a fraternity.
“While it wasn’t an expectation that I join a fraternity, I had grown up hearing about the friendships he made and the experiences he had. I wanted that too, and during recruitment, the Sigma Nu guys were who I clicked with the most and felt comfortable being around.”
And how do the Delta Gamma Chapter (Columbia) brothers react to Ketcher’s racing career? Nothing short of positive.
“The chapter brothers are stoked about it and super supportive. It’s a pretty rare sport to be involved in so they always want to learn more. It’s been really heartwarming to see my brothers take such a keen interest in what I’m doing, but also in me as a person and the passion I have for it.”
It’s pretty common that Ketcher will get texts from brothers going into a race weekend or comments on his Instagram.
Sigma Nu also helps provide a brotherhood for Ketcher outside of racing.
“Sometimes sports can be an echo chamber, so it’s nice to have guys I can just be me around and not be a driver. We all have unique interests and hobbies, and we’re all interested in what each other are doing.”