Steve Kinser

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Steve Kinser
Kinser in the 1980s
Born (1954-06-02) June 2, 1954 (age 63)
Bloomington, Indiana
Achievements 20 Time WoO Sprint Champion
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career
5 races run over 1 year
Best finish 49th (1995)
First race 1995 Daytona 500 (Daytona)
Last race 1995 TranSouth Financial 400 (Darlington)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0
IndyCar Series career
1 race run over 1 year
Best finish 44th (1996–1997)
First race 1997 Indianapolis 500 (Indianapolis
Wins Podiums Poles
0 0 0
Kinser's 2007 World of Outlaws sprint car at the King's Royal race
Kinser in a 2006 IROC race at Texas

Steve "The King" Kinser (born June 2, 1954, Bloomington, Indiana), is a professional sprint car racing driver. He has won 20 championships in the World of Outlaws (WoO) series, and currently drives the No. 11 Bass Pro Shops car. Kinser left the World of Outlaws in 2006 to compete with the National Sprint Tour series, but returned to the World of Outlaws for the 2007 season. ESPN named him the 25th on their top drivers of all-time in 2008.[1] On January 26, 2017 Kinser was named to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.[2][3]


Kinser was a high school wrestler. He finished second in state as a junior, and won state as a senior. Both of his sons wrestled in high school, the youngest Kurt also won state as a senior, capping off the Bloomington High School South team's excellent season. Kurt wrestled at Indiana University, competing at the 149 and 157-pound weight classes, and later became a professional mixed martial artist. With his win on Saturday May 12, 2012 at the Williams Grove Speedway, Steve became the oldest driver ever to win a World of Outlaws main event at the age of 57.

World of Outlaws career[edit]

He became a World of Outlaws driver in 1978. In 1987 he won 46 features, including 12 in a row, and 24 of the last 26 events. He has won the Knoxville Nationals a record 12 times, the Gold Cup Race of Champions 12 times, and the Kings Royal at Eldora 7 times. He won twenty WoO championships and 577 "A" features. He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2005. He has been described as the best sprint racer ever by both columnists and even his rivals.[4][5] As of August 2016, Kinser is done racing.[6]

1986 championship sprint car at Williams Grove
Steve's 2013 car in the pits at the Beaver Dam Raceway.

Other racing accomplishments[edit]

In 1981, a 26-year-old rookie, Kinser failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 when his month was ended by a practice crash. He returned in 1997, qualified 20th, and finished 14th as a 42-year-old rookie in a Dallara-Oldsmobile. It was his only Indy Racing League start.

During his many tours of Australia racing Sprint cars, Kinser won many feature races and drew large crowds wherever he raced, but on January 4, 1986 he swapped his Sprinter for a VW-powered Midget (called a Speedcar in Australia) and won the 38th Australian Speedcar Grand Prix at Sydney's Liverpool City Raceway.[7][8] Kinser began touring Australia in 1979, before returning many times during the 1980s and 1990s, generally teaming with his brother Randy in Gambler chassis Sprint cars distinctively sponsored by cigarette companies, including the black and gold of JPS, and the sky blue and white Commodore brand. In 1985/86, Steve Kinser headlined a four driver tour of Australia which included his brother Randy and cousins Mark and Kelly. The JPS sponsored Kinser's virtually cleaned-up on their 1985/86 Australian tour, winning races at the major speedways in the country against Australia's best drivers including multiple Australian Champions Garry Rush, George Tatnell and Max Dumesny.

Kinser has been selected several times to compete in the International Race of Champions, winning a race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1994. That year he also finished a career best 6th in IROC points.

In 1995 Kinser landed a NASCAR Winston Cup Series ride as drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein hired Kinser to drive his No. 26 Quaker State Ford,[9] but released him after only five starts after a best finish of 27th and average placing of 35th.[10]

In 1997, Kinser made his Indy 500 debut, finishing 14th after a late race accident in Turn 4.


His family is also involved in racing, as his younger brother Randy Kinser and cousins Kelly Kinser and Mark Kinser, who was also a championship winning driver on the World of Outlaws circuit. His son Kraig Kinser races for Steve Kinser Racing in the number 11k World of Outlaw sprint car. Kraig won the 2005 Knoxville Nationals. He has two other children, Stevie and Kurt. His second cousin, 1x removed Sheldon Kinser competed in the CART series and faced in the Indianapolis 500 six times. Steve is the son of Bob Kinser.

Steve's third cousin Karl Kinser (Mark Kinser's father) was Steve's car owner 1978 to 1994, and was crew chief for Steve and Randy's cars on their frequent tours to Australia in the 1980s. Karl has been the winning car owner and mechanic for 16 World of Outlaws championships and 12 Knoxville Nationals wins. Karl was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Even though Karl is his third cousin, Steve Kinser often joked to reporters that the pair weren't really related.

Motorsports career results[edit]

World of Outlaws[edit]

  • 1978: Champion – 11 wins.
  • 1979: Champion – 23 wins.
  • 1980: Champion – 28 wins.
  • 1981: 3rd in points – 23 wins.
  • 1982: 2nd in points – 13 wins.
  • 1983: Champion – 18 wins.
  • 1984: Champion – 19 wins.
  • 1985: Champion – 15 wins.
  • 1986: Champion – 18 wins.
  • 1987: Champion – 46 wins.
  • 1988: Champion – 27 wins.
  • 1990: Champion – 27 wins.
  • 1991: Champion – 36 wins.
  • 1992: Champion – 31 wins.
  • 1993: Champion – 19 wins.
  • 1994: Champion – 29 wins.
  • 1995: 9th in points – 18 wins.
  • 1996: 4th in points – 10 wins.
  • 1997: 3rd in points – 5 wins.
  • 1998: Champion – 6 wins.
  • 1999: 3rd in points – 11 wins.
  • 2000: Champion – 10 wins.
  • 2001: 3rd in points – 6 wins.
  • 2002: Champion – 20 wins.
  • 2003: Champion – 25 wins.
  • 2004: Champion 17 wins.
  • 2005: Champion – 20 wins.
  • 2006: 2nd in points (NST) – 5 wins.
  • 2007: 6th in points – 10 wins.
  • 2008: 3rd in points – 7 wins.
  • 2009: 4th in points – 2 wins.
  • 2010: 3rd in points – 9 wins.
  • 2011: 3rd in points – 9 wins.
  • 2012: 5th in points – 4 wins.
  • 2013: 8th in points – 2 wins.
  • 2014: 8th in points – 1 win. "Last fulltime season"
  • 2015: 19th in points - 0 wins.


(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Winston Cup Series[edit]

American open-wheel racing results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Indy Racing League[edit]

Indianapolis 500[edit]

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team
1997 Dallara Oldsmobile 20 14 Sinden Racing Services


External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
World of Outlaws Champion
Succeeded by
Sammy Swindell
Preceded by
Sammy Swindell
World of Outlaws Champion
Succeeded by
Bobby Davis, Jr.
Preceded by
Bobby Davis, Jr.
World of Outlaws Champion
Succeeded by
Dave Blaney
Preceded by
Sammy Swindell
World of Outlaws Champion
Succeeded by
Mark Kinser
Preceded by
Mark Kinser
World of Outlaws Champion
Succeeded by
Danny Lasoski
Preceded by
Danny Lasoski
World of Outlaws Champion
Succeeded by
Donny Schatz