Friday, June 2, 2017

Steve "The King" Kinser Born In Bloomington, Indiana - June 2, 1954

June 2, 1954
Steve "The King" Kinser
Born in Bloomington, Indiana, USA.
He became a World of Outlaws driver in 1978. He won twenty World of Outlaws championships and 577 "A" features. He has been described as the best sprint racer ever by both columnists and even his rivals. He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2005. ESPN named him the 25th on their top drivers of all-time in 2008. On January 26, 2017 Kinser was named to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He has also raced in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, the Indy 500 and the International Race of Champions.

In 1987 he won 46 features, including 12 in a row, and 24 of the last 26 events. He has won the Knoxville Nationals a record 12 times, the Gold Cup Race of Champions 12 times, and the Kings Royal at Eldora 7 times. Kinser left the World of Outlaws in 2006 to compete with the National Sprint Tour series, but returned to the World of Outlaws for the 2007 season. With his win on Saturday May 12, 2012 at the Williams Grove Speedway, Steve became the oldest driver ever to win a World of Outlaws main event at the age of 57.

During his many tours of Australia racing Sprint cars, Kinser won many feature races and drew large crowds wherever he raced, but on January 4, 1986 he swapped his Sprinter for a VW-powered Midget (called a Speedcar in Australia) and won the 38th Australian Speedcar Grand Prix at Sydney's Liverpool City Raceway. Kinser began touring Australia in 1979, before returning many times during the 1980s and 1990s, generally teaming with his brother Randy in Gambler chassis Sprint cars distinctively sponsored by cigarette companies, including the black and gold of JPS, and the sky blue and white Commodore brand. In 1985/86, Steve Kinser headlined a four driver tour of Australia which included his brother Randy and cousins Mark and Kelly. The JPS sponsored Kinser's virtually cleaned-up on their 1985/86 Australian tour, winning races at the major speedways in the country against Australia's best drivers including multiple Australian Champions Garry Rush, George Tatnell and Max Dumesny.

Kinser has been selected several times to compete in the International Race of Champions, winning a race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1994. That year he also finished a career best 6th in IROC points.

In 1995 Steve landed a NASCAR Winston Cup Series ride, as drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein hired Kinser to drive his #26 Quaker State Ford. He was released after only five starts, with a best finish of 27th and average placing of 35th.
In 1981, a 26-year-old rookie, Kinser failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 when his month was ended by a practice crash. He returned in 1997, qualified 20th, and finished 14th as a 42-year-old rookie in a Dallara-Oldsmobile. It was his only Indy Racing League start.

His family is also involved in racing, as his younger brother Randy Kinser and cousins Kelly Kinser and Mark Kinser, who was also a championship winning driver on the World of Outlaws circuit. His son Kraig Kinser races for Steve Kinser Racing in the number 11k World of Outlaw sprint car. Kraig won the 2005 Knoxville Nationals. He has two other children, Stevie and Kurt. His second cousin Sheldon Kinser competed in the CART series and raced in the Indianapolis 500 six times. Steve is the son of Bob Kinser.

Steve's third cousin Karl Kinser  was his car owner from 1978 to 1994, and was crew chief for Steve and Randy's cars on their frequent tours to Australia in the 1980s. Karl has been the winning car owner and mechanic for 16 World of Outlaws championships and 12 Knoxville Nationals wins. Karl was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Even though Karl is his third cousin, Steve Kinser often joked to reporters that the pair weren't really related.
Kinser was a high school wrestler. He finished second in state as a junior, and won state as a senior. Both of his sons wrestled in high school, the youngest Kurt also won state as a senior, capping off the Bloomington High School South team's excellent season. Kurt wrestled at Indiana University, competing at the 149 and 157-pound weight classes, and later became a professional mixed martial artist.

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