A title in which he would probably not respond to is King. However, that is just what he is. M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park, Calif. leads nearly every statistical category of the Featherlite Southwest Series except one. Champion. Although he lays a...
A title in which he would probably not respond to is King. However, that is just what he is. M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park, Calif. leads nearly every statistical category of the Featherlite Southwest Series except one. Champion.
Although he lays a crooked smile when asked about winning a championship, anyone who takes the time to listen to his wisdom will quickly understand the desire that burns deep within this 22-year racing veteran.
Kanke started racing Late Models on the dirt half-mile of the old Ascot Park Speedway in 1980. With numerous victories and the 1983 track title to his name, Kanke set his sights on the pavement in 1985, spending time racing at both Saugus Speedway and Mesa Marin Raceway. After successful stints in Modifieds and Sportsman cars, Kanke turned to the Featherlite Southwest Series in 1987.
While running his family owned trucking business, Kanke raced the series when he could and in 15 seasons he has started 186 races. His career statistics include 26 Bud Poles (series record), 19 wins (2nd all-time), 78 top-five and 106 top-ten finishes. He was the first man in series history to break the $300,000 mark in career winnings; he currently has won more than $360,000 to date.
Kanke has six top-ten final points' finishes with his best finish of second coming in 1998. This season he is poised to collect his first championship as he sits second behind leader Eddy McKean. The event at PIR in November will be the classic shootout for these steel cowboys, pitting the wiley veteran against the excited newcomer.
"When I get discouraged, my wife pushes me harder then I push myself," Kanke offered. "I have had years when it just has not gone my way and Chris is there motivating me. I have learned not to race for points, I just race to win."
Kanke has certainly done just that. He is the guy that everybody looks for on race day and measures themselves against. When asked who set the standard for him, Kanke says that is easy. "Dan Press is the toughest competitor I ever raced against," Kanke said. "That guy was fierce and he never gave you anything. I went to school plenty of times."
Nowadays, it is Kanke that is schooling the younger drivers. He might not relish the role of "mentor", however, all the drivers look up to and follow him.