Steve Kinser. Photo by Jack Kromer.
If you’re one of the people who skipped the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car race at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York on Monday, August 22, you can start kicking yourself. The greatest sprint driver in history, Steve Kinser, announced before the rain-postponed event that it was “likely” his last sprint car race ever. Kinser, 62, has been the subject of retirement rumors for more than two years now.
The numbers that surround his career are simply staggering. He holds 20 World of Outlaws season championships, a total of a dozen Knoxville Nationals titles, another dozen wins in the Gold Cup, a total of 577 World of Outlaws A-feature victories in a career dating back to the mid-1970s, plus an incalculable number of other wins in USAC, the All Stars, central Pennsylvania and weekly Indiana tracks that may never been accurately counted. His records are unassailable, and Kinser ranks unchallenged as the most prolific dirt track winner anywhere. He also boasts an IROC win, five NASCAR Sprint Cup starts, and a finish at the 1997 Indianapolis 500.
Racing at Volusia, Florida, in 2016. Photo by Paul Arch, courtesy World of Outlaws.
Kinser stunned the crowd while he was being introduced by Lebanon Valley announcer John Stanley, correcting him when Stanley said it was his final appearance at the high-banked dirt oval in West Lebanon, New York by saying that it was likely his final start, period. Kinser finished sixth in his final appearance, behind winner Sammy Swindell, 60, another outlaw spring legend in the twilight of his driving career.