VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. — Another World of Outlaws season is under way and things seem to be changing there.
The 20-time champion Steve Kinser is going through a part of his career that he’d rather not. Reality might be closing in on him.
Steve will turn 59 years old in June. He has had the most remarkable career than any other racer in the history of this sport. Time has come for people to be checking the numbers on his birth certificate and not the win column.
So far this year Steve is 12th in Outlaws points with just two top-10 finishes and no top fives. It’s sad to see what is happening to the King of the Outlaws. It happened to A.J. Foyt and Richard Petty and every other driver. These men could beat anything in their time but age.
One wonders how much longer Steve will strap in to a fire breathing sprint car. A man with endless pride, I’m sure this time of his life is painful. There is no doubt the desire is still there or he wouldn’t be out there.
Today’s race drivers are able to compete much longer than years ago. Sprint cars were seldom driven by anybody over age 45. Both Sammy Swindell and Fred Rahmer, who are past age 50, recently scored victories.
The World of Outlaws is the most grueling series in racing. They race over seventy times a year and tour the country from coast to coast three times.
All races are run on dirt. Some tracks are rutted with holes. There is little protection from flying missiles the cars churn up. Steve Kinser has always been “hands on,” helping work on the race cars in motel parking lots. He owns the team his son Kraig drives.
He hasn’t been Outlaw champion since 2005. He won but four times last year. He has set records that cause many a head shake. He has 574 “A” feature wins along with his 20 national championships. He has scored wins at over 125 different speedways.
Through this long career, Steve has been a good guy. All of his peers from the various eras he has raced respect him. Almost everybody likes him. He has had few dustups, mostly with Swindell. They have raced wheel to wheel together virtually thousands of times.
One would think he would be burned out just from all the traveling. He has been at it since the Outlaws debuted in 1978. He has not made any remarks about retiring but it probably is coming faster than he desires.
His father Bob raced into his 60s. They have good genes in the Kinser family. But we must realize there will come a day when he when he won’t be out there anymore.
The last thing Steve Kinser wants is for us to feel bad for him. He should be appreciated for all those great races he gave us. He is facing a major change in his life and career. No matter what he does we’ll know he’s around.
This is the time to give him an extra cheer for he has done.
After all, how many “Kings” are there really?