The World of Outlaws ran their first race in March of 1978. Two months later, Steve Kinser won his first WoO feature.
Don Mack, one of the River Cities Speedway managing partners and a member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, raced against Kinser back in the late 1970s.
“I must have raced against him at least 50 times,” Mack said.
How fast was a young Kinser?
“He was fast out of the box,” Mack said.
And Kinser is still fast.
Kinser is in his final season with the World of Outlaws, which will race tonight at River Cities Speedway. The 20-time WoO champion is in the midst of the Outlaws “Salute to the King Tour” as he’s chasing a series title for the final time in his career.
Kinser has had one win this season and is seventh in season points.
Collection of checkereds
The Bloomington, Ind., driver has won every major sprint race in his career and is still competitive at age 60.
He’s logged 577 career WoO wins and has won the prestigious Knoxville Nationals - the Super Bowl of sprint racing - 12 times.
“Whoever thought he’d win over 500 features?” said Mack. “That’s just unreal.”
Kinser likes racing at RCS, a quarter-mile bullring that is one of the smallest race tracks on the Outlaws’ circuit.
“It’s just a fun place to race,” said Kinser. “We’ve had some good cars up there over the years. Don (Mack) and all of his people do a great job with that track. The place is packed with fans and it always seems to be a good show.”
He’s won twice at RCS, the second being one of the closest finishes in WoO history.
In August of 2011, Kinser and Donny Schatz - teammates for Tony Stewart racing - staged a classic finish in the 40-lap feature.
The two exchanged the lead nine times during the final eight laps, with Kinser edging Schatz for the win. The race still ranks as one of the best 40-lap WoO features in series history.
“We’ve had some great races up there,” said Kinser. “Won a few and lost a few. I know we had a good race with Donny there a couple of seasons ago and then, the next year, I thought I had one and Kraig (Kinser) went and drove around me. It’s just a place where you don’t know who is going to win until that checkered flag drops.
“You almost always seem to have a chance. Even if you don’t qualify great, you can race your way forward. As a driver, that’s all you want.”
Schatz leads the pack
Schatz leads the WoO series as the circuit prepares for its first of two shows this season at RCS.
The Fargo driver has a six-point cushion on Daryn Pittman, last season’s champion, and a 45-point edge on Joey Saldana, who won the inaugural WoO event at RCS in 2007.
Schatz is aiming for his sixth WoO season title. He has three WoO wins at RCS, the most by any driver. Craig Dollansky, not running full time with the Outlaws this season, also has three.
“We’re having a pretty good season,” Schatz said. “We need to get better and, honestly, River Cities has been a really good track for us to judge where we are.”
With a heavier-than-usual car count at RCS this season, there could be approximately 40 sprints on hand for tonight’s show.
The winner of the 40-lap feature will take home $10,000.