Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Ind., sprint car racing's first million dollar winner, will open defense of his World of Outlaws series championship for winged sprint cars when the traveling circuit opens its 1986 season next Saturday and Sunday at Ascot Park.
The program will mark the first time that the World of Outlaw series has ever kicked off on the West Coast and the winner of Sunday's main event will take home the biggest opening prize ever offered--$10,000 of the $55,000 purse.
Money is something Kinser knows how to make on the rugged World of Outlaws circuit that takes the participants to almost every part of the country during the season which will also end at Ascot Park in late October. The 31-year-old Hoosier, the star performer of the first family of sprint car racing, is coming off a series record season in which he earned $247,690 along with his sixth World of Outlaws season championship.
Kinser is one of only 46 drivers to have topped the $1 million mark in career earnings in United States motorsports events. But he is the first driver ever to reach the seven-figure mark solely by racing sprint cars.
You would think that more than 100 races would be enough for one season. Not for Steve Kinser.
When the season finished last October, Steve led a "Clan Kinser" invasion of Australia. Joining Steve were his cousin and car owner, Karl, two other cousins Mark, who will compete this weekend, and Kelly and his younger brother Randy.
For the Ascot opener, Steve will be aboard his familiar Karl Kinser-prepared No. 11 Gambler, but there will be two changes this season. One is a new sponsor, Coors, and the other is that they will be using their own engines instead of the creations of Earl Gaerte, who has supplied the Kinser powerplants for the past several seasons.
Set to challenge Kinser will be the largest traveling contingent in the history of the World of Outlaws, headed by two-time champion Sammy Swindell of Bartlett, Tenn.
In their last meeting at Ascot, Kinser led most of the main event only to have Swindell slip into the lead in the late laps on go to victory before the largest crowd for an auto race in Ascot Park's history.
Joining Sammy Swindell will be a trio of drivers who hail from the Memphis area, his younger brother, Jeff, Bobby Davis Jr., and Terry Gray.
Other series regulars who will compete in the two-day program include Ron Shuman of Tempe, Ariz.; Bobby Allen, Hanover, Pa.; Mark Kinser, Oolitic, Ind.; Brad Doty, Fredricksburg, Ohio; Rocky Hodges, Des Moines, Iowa; Danny Smith, Danville, Ind.; Dave Blaney, Hartford, Ohio; Jac Haudenschild, Millersburg, Ohio; Jimmy Sills, Sacramento, Robby Unser, Albuquerque, N.M., son of Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser and Craig Keel, Weedsport, N.Y.
Heading the group of non-World of Outlaw regulars are both the Southern and Northern California champions plus a pair of drivers, who between them won three United States Auto Club national championships last year.
They are Eddie Wirth of Hermosa Beach, the California Racing Assn. champion, and Brent Kaeding of Campbell, Calif., the Northern Auto Racing Club title winner. Joining them will be Ricky Hood, another Memphis, Tenn., product who won both the sprint car and Silver Crown (championship dirt cars) title in USAC and Chuck Gurney of Livermore, Calif., the USAC supermodified kingpin. Other entries include Rick Ungar, yet another Memphis, Tenn., driver who will be driving a California car and Greg Wooley of Oklahoma City.
Each program will consist of time trials, heat races a B feature and main event. Qualifying trails start at 12:30 a.m. with the first race at 1:30 p.m.