Story by RaceChaser Online Correspondent Steven Ovens – Photo Credit to TonyStewartRacing.com-
We all knew this day would come some day. We probably have just tried to suppress the idea for years that at some point, The King of the Outlaws was going to finally call it a career and step out of his famous #11. Well race fans, that day has come and we can’t suppress the idea any more.
Kinser made it official in an interview with the Valvoline Raceway/Sydney Speedway that he has decided that his 2014 season in the Tony Stewart Racing World of Outlaws machine will be his Farewell Tour. The tour will start in Sydney, Australia December 26th before coming back to the states in January to prepare for the 2014 World of Outlaws tour opener at Volusia in February. Kinser told the media that he wanted his lifetime tour to start in Sydney- a place where it all began for the 20-time World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars Champion.
“I haven’t thought much about it to tell you the truth, but I genuinely wanted to start the final season here in Sydney and finish it at Charlotte, North Carolina, in November.”
Some race fans may not know that Kinser got his early career breaks in Australia racing sprint cars sponsored by JPS and Commodore, cigarette companies. He ranks 12th on the all-time feature winner list at the Valvoline Raceway with 21 wins to go with several World Series Sprint Car tour wins in the ‘land down under.’
“My career is indelibly linked to Sydney and this will be the start of my lifetime tour to do my best on the racetrack and to say thank you to the fans that have been so loyal over the years,” said Kinser.
But what will we remember Steve Kinser for? For us race fans in the States, the dominance that Kinser showed on the World of Outlaws sprint car series will be what we remember. That kind of dominance is likely to never be seen again. Dominance only shown by the likes of John Force to the NHRA, Michael Jordan to the NBA and the New York Yankees to the MLB. Certainly TSR teammate Donny Schatz has a great start toward 20 championships but it’s not likely that he would reach that feat.
The shoe from Bloomington, Indiana has compiled legendary stats in his time on the tour. He started his first Outlaws race at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas on March 18, 1978. He was also one of the original Outlaws that led the charge when the World of Outlaws came to fruition in 1978. That paved the way for 576 A-Main feature wins with the WoO out of 2,056 career starts. That translates to winning 28% of the races competed in. Legend status.
What some newer dirt fans may not know about The King is that he has driven more than just sprint cars on the national level. On May 10, 1997 Kinser qualified 10th fastest for the Indianapolis 500 then later that night traveled to the Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana and won his 415th World of Outlaws A-Main event. He would go on to finish 14th in that Indy 500.
Kinser was also a part of the International Race of Champions (IROC) series seven times (1994-1996 & 2003-2006) that was popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s. His lone IROC win came at Talladega in 1994. He is also one of the only guys I know that went upside down in an IROC car in two races in a row in the same year. Probably not a record to be most proud of, but surely wasn’t a big deal for a guy who wheels a sprint car for a living.
As if some of those Hall of Fame records weren’t enough, Kinser is a 14-time National 410 Sprint Car Driver of the Year, 12-time Knoxville Nationals winner, 7-time King’s Royal winner at Eldora and a 12-time Gold Cup winner. The King has won every major Sprint Car race there is out there to win. He and his son Kraig are the only father-son pair to have both won the Knoxville Nationals.
Steve Kinser is an icon in sprint car racing. He has done everything that there is to do in sprint car racing. He’s done NASCAR and Indy and is adored by race fans across the United States and Australia. The King will be sorely missed when he hangs up his helmet after the 2014 edition of the World of Outlaws World Finals. ‘The King came, The King saw and The King conquered.’