30 Years of Winning at Eldora Speedway for Steve Kinser In 1978, a young driver went Eldora Speedway, with just one start at the storied half-mile under his belt, and began to promptly rewrite the record books each time he visited the famed...
30 Years of Winning at Eldora Speedway for Steve Kinser
In 1978, a young driver went Eldora Speedway, with just one start at the storied half-mile under his belt, and began to promptly rewrite the record books each time he visited the famed Ohio track. That driver was Steve Kinser and 30 years later, he is still winning at Eldora and rewriting the history books each time he takes to the track.
Kinser, the 20-time Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion, won his first race at Eldora in the series inaugural 1978 season on May 21. Ironically it was also his first A-Feature win with the series. He would follow that up with another win at the track on September 3 of 1978, again with the series. This began a streak of 11 consecutive seasons in which he would be victorious at Eldora Speedway. In his first 26 starts at the track, Kinser earned a Top-10 finish in each and every one of them with most of those being Top-Five performances, including a string of four consecutive wins in both 1979 and 1980.
"I remember running there in 1978 in the Outlaws first season and having a lot of success there," said Kinser, who pilots the Q Oil Maxim. "We've definitely had a lot of success there over the year and I always have enjoyed racing there."
During his career, Kinser has won in 25 different seasons at the track, which is now owned by fellow Indiana native and two-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart. Most recently, Kinser was victorious last year in the Knight Before the Kings Royal, leading all 30 laps in a dominating performance. Prior to the 2007 season, the track was resurfaced and also reconfigured, giving drivers an added challenge, to a track that was already one of the most demanding on the entire World of Outlaws circuit.
"It's a race track that you can race on when it gets kind of slick, and get up next to the wall," Kinser explained. "It's a track that you can do some racing on and some passing on. It's always a fun place to go race at. The track has made some changes over the years, but it's still Eldora and it's still a great place to race at."
Kinser has had unprecedented success at Eldora Speedway over the last 30 years, winning nearly one-third of all the A-Feature events he has competed in at the track. Along with 33 A-Feature wins with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, he also has visited the winner's circle at Eldora with the All Star Circuit of Champions, the United States Auto Club (in both non-wing sprint cars and Silver Crown cars) and in a number of unsanctioned events. He has six wins in the $50,000 Kings Royal to lead all drivers, along with two victories in the $100,000 Historic Big One, as well as triumphs in the Eldora Nationals a number of times, in addition to wins during Ohio Speedweek and in the Four Crown Nationals.
"It's always been one of my favorite places to go," noted the native of Bloomington, Indiana. "Probably one of the reasons is that it's not too far from home. The race track itself has a lot to do with it, as well as all of the history behind it. There have been a lot of great race drivers, non-wing drivers, and stock car drivers that have all run there. They have had a lot of good races there over the years."
With the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series celebrating its 30th Anniversary this season, Kinser recalled the year that it all got started and the uncertainty that everyone involved faced, beginning at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas. He fondly remembers running a number of races that season at Devil's Bowl and Eldora, and picking up a number of wins along the way.
"We didn't really know what we were wading into," Kinser explained. "A guy by the name of Ted Johnson came up and wanted a small entry fee to start the thing and said he would keep point standings and pay $10,000 at the end of the year. We really didn't know if it would be anything or not. We all gave him our 20 or 40 bucks or whatever it was and signed up and took off from there and we ran the whole year."
Kinser would go on to win a series best 11 A-Feature events that year and would pick up the inaugural series title over Rick Ferkel by 54 points. Since then, Kinser has amassed an astonishing track record including 20 World of Outlaws titles and 543 A-Feature wins, to go along with many preliminary feature wins. He has won races from coast-coast, as well as in Australia, Canada and even Mexico. He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa in 2005.
Looking back at the sport over the last 30 years, Kinser points to a couple of the areas that have seen the greatest changes. One thing that has not changed over the years is the level of competition with the World of Outlaws which again this season will be second-to-none, as there are currently 20 drivers following the series full-time.
"It has changed quite a bit," Kinser said of sprint car racing over the last three decades. "The biggest part of it is the development and the parts keep getting better and better, especially the motor parts. Everything just keeps getting better and the cars keep getting faster."
In his career, Kinser has 57 total wins at Eldora Speedway and will have six opportunities to add to that total this season, as the World of Outlaws will compete four separate times at the track in a total of six races, beginning this weekend with two full nights of action.
The winningest sprint car driver in history has competed well over 170 times on the legendary half-mile, claiming victories in nearly a third of those starts. Last season at the track, in addition to winning the Knight Before the Kings Royal, Kinser had four Top-10 finishes in five starts. He has nearly 150 Top-10 finishes at Eldora in his career.
"I think a lot of it is the number of laps that we have run there," he noted of his success at the track. "In 1978 we ran a lot of races there with the World of Outlaws. Between there and Devil's Bowl (Speedway in Texas) we ran a lot of races. We probably ran each of them five or six times, with a lot of other races in between. I think the amount of laps (at Eldora) helped a lot, as well as watching races there before I started running there. That has had a lot to do with it."
On Friday, April 11 at Eldora Speedway tickets for those 16-over will be $25, with tickets for those ages 12-15 just $12, with children 7-11 only $6 and kids 6-under will be admitted free of charge.
On Saturday, April 12 at Eldora Speedway tickets for those 16-over will be $25, with tickets for those ages 12-15 just $12, with children 7-11 only $6 and kids 6-under will be admitted free of charge.