Series Manzanita spotlight - Steve Kinser

One final time: Kinser looks to add to legacy at Manzanita Speedway It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 32 years since the first time that Steve Kinser raced at the legendary Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. It's even tougher to ...

One final time: Kinser looks to add to legacy at Manzanita Speedway

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 32 years since the first time that Steve Kinser raced at the legendary Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. It's even tougher to fathom that this Saturday night (March 28) will be the final time that the 20-time World of Outlaws champion will have the opportunity to compete at the blazing fast half-mile located on the corner of 35th & Broadway, as the series makes their final visit to the historic track in the desert.

Kinser made his debut at Manzanita in 1977 in the famed Western World and picked up his first win at the track two years later in a World of Outlaws event. He would go on to race over 60 times at the track over the years, both in a winged and non-wing sprint car and has over 50 career Top-10 finishes at the track.

"I've always enjoyed running there," said Kinser. "I've been racing there since the late 70's. It's always been a good race track for us and I've had a lot of success there. I've always enjoyed going to that area and racing, but I guess nothing lasts forever. That's just sort of the way it is."

Kinser has a total of 21 wins at Manzanita dating back to 1979. Among those are seven wins in the Western World, which he won for the first time in 1982. His most recent victory at the track came in 2005, en route to his record 20th championship aboard the Quaker State Maxim. He has a total of 11 victories in World of Outlaws action, including A-Features, preliminary features and a couple in the former Slick 50 Winter Series that was held at the track in the early 1990's.

"The Western World wins have to stand out most," he noted of his victories at the track. "I don't know how many of those I won (seven), but I won them both with wings and without wings. I just always enjoyed racing there."

In the early days of his career, along with the Knoxville Nationals, the Western World at Manzanita was always one of the highlights of the season for Kinser, as the best sprint car drivers from across the country converged on the desert half-mile to wrap up their respective seasons. He had many battles with fellow legendary drivers en route to winning the famed event.

Kinser won his first Western World over two Arizona legends who are also the two winningest drivers in a sprint car at Manzanita, Lealand McSpadden and Ron Shuman, who along with Kinser are members of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Four of his wins in the Western World came over Shuman, with two others coming over three-time World of Outlaws champion and longtime rival Sammy Swindell and one over Stevie Smith, who is among the Top-10 all-time in World of Outlaws victories.

"The Western World back in the late 70's and early 80's was one of the biggest races there was, especially when they had all the non-wing cars there," said the native of Bloomington, Indiana. "It changed a little bit over the years, but it still ranked right up there with all of them."

Kinser, who has visited countless tracks in his legendary career from coast-to-coast as well in Australia, Canada and Mexico, ranks Manzanita right up there with the famed Knoxville Raceway, Eldora Speedway and Williams Grove as the most storied tracks on the circuit.

"I hate to ever lose race tracks, especially half-mile tracks," shared Kinser. "I really enjoy running the half-miles a lot. It seems like you lose tracks now, it's some of the half-miles. I guess over the last 10 or so years there have been quite a few half-miles and 3/8-miles built, but you still miss tracks."

There has been three generations of the Kinser family that has competed at Manzanita over the years. Along with Steve, his father Bob has raced at the half-mile and finished fourth in the very first Western World in 1968 and most recently Steve's son Kraig also added his name to that list, competing a handful of times at the track with the World of Outlaws. Both Steve and Kraig will take to the track this weekend in the series final visit to Manzanita, as each seeks to add their name to the history books as being the last World of Outlaws winner at the track.

"That track has all the history behind it, many years before I started going there," the second generation driver explained. "I can remember my dad (Bob Kinser) going out there and racing in the 60's. There have been a lot of great race drivers that have had the opportunity to race there."

Kinser enters this weekend's finale at Manzanita second in the World of Outlaws championship standings, just 32 markers behind three-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz. Kinser leads the series with seven Top-10 finishes in eight starts, as he seeks his first win of the season and chases his record 21st title.

On Saturday, March 28 at Manzanita Speedway, General Admission tickets for adults will be $30, with general admission tickets for children ages 7-11 just $15 and kids 6-under will be admitted free into the general admission section. Reserved tickets for the race are $32 and $35. For ticket information call the track at: 602-276-7575 or visit www.manzanitaspeedway.us.

-credit: WoO

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell
Teams Williams