Steve Kinser draws curtain on remarkable career

Steve Kinser is to retire from his phenomenal Sprintcar career

Steve Kinser is to retire from his phenomenal Sprintcar career

Steve Kinser, the most successful Sprintcar driver in history, has run his final lap after announcing his retirement at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York State.

Indiana-native Kinser, 62, leaves an incredible legacy with 577 World of Outlaws Feature wins, 20 Outlaws Championships and 12 Knoxville Nationals Championships – more than any other driver.

News of his retirement came during the All Star Circuit of Champions meeting where, ironically, one of his fiercest rivals Sammy Swindell won from Kinser’s son Kraig.

The official Twitter account of Kinser confirmed the King of the Outlaws was about to complete his last laps Monday night US-time by tweeting “Help Salute ‘The King’ as he takes his final laps… Use hashtag to bid farewell to the greatest to hold the wheel.”

Kinser’s team boss and owner of the All Star Series, Tony Stewart was on hand at Lebanon Valley and warmly greeted Kinser after his announcement.

For the best part of 40 years, Kinser has been at the pinnacle  of Sprintcar racing, taking 876 Sprintcar feature wins around the world and he has been the driver that has inspired hundreds of young racers across three generations throughout North America, Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to his exploits at Knoxville and as a foundation competitor in the World of Outlaws Series, he has seven King’s Royal victories and 12 Gold Cup wins on his CV.

In 1987, he amassed an astonishing 44 feature race wins of the 67 Outlaws events, securing a string of 12 race wins in succession and winning 24 of the last 26 races on the tour.

Kinser with Tony Stewart at Lebanon Valley

Kinser with Tony Stewart at Lebanon Valley

Kinser was one of the famed drivers from various disciplines featured in the International Race of Champions (IROC) Series, starring seven times and he taking a race win at Talladega in 1994.

Kinser attempted to qualify for nine NASCAR premier Series events – two in 1993 and then seven in 1995. He didn’t strike fortune in ‘93, however driving in a car owned by NHRA legend, Kenny Bernstein qualified for five NASCAR events in 1995, including the Daytona 500 where he finished 40th. His best result was 27th at Rockingham, North Carolina.

He would head to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with long time sponsor, Quaker State and finish 14th in the 1997 Indianapolis 500, his only IndyCar start.

Kinser was very much one of the pioneering drivers of the Sprintcar era in Australia, becoming a regular feature on Australian clayways throughout the 1980s and 1990s with support from the likes of JPS and Commodore cigarettes – the liveries becoming iconic pieces of Australian motorsport history.

In 1986, he turned his hand to a Speedcar at Western Sydney’s Liverpool Raceway and promptly won the prestigious Australian Speedcar Grand Prix.

Kinser-CharlotteHe would win his 22nd and final race at Valvoline Raceway in Sydney in 2013 in typical Kinser fashion. That would see him remain 12th on the overall feature race winners list at the Granville speedway. He would also take a number of World Series Sprintcars wins

One of the grandest honours bestowed on the undisputed King of Sprintcar racing was being rated among the 25 greatest drivers of all time in an peer voted poll alongside the likes of Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Don Garlits, Emerson Fittipaldi and Michael Schumacher, being declared the ‘Michael Jordan of Sprintcar racing.’

Whilst stepping back from the full-time rigours of racing over recent years, his son Kraig Kinser is still racing a heavy Sprintcar schedule each season.

The retirement of Kinser has brought an end to a career unlikely to be matched in the discipline again.

Steve Kinser stats

Age: 62
Born: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Lives: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
WoO Feature Wins: 577
Feature wins at Sydney Speedway: 22 – 12th on all time winner’s list
Best WoO Point Standings Finish: First (20 times: 1978-80, 1983-88,
1990-94, 1998, 2000, 2002-05)
Competed in the first career World of Outlaws (WoO) race March 18, 1978 at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas.
Has won every major sprint car race during his racing career.

12-time Knoxville Nationals champion.
14-time National 410 Sprint Car Driver of the Year.
19-time American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-American honoree.
14th in the 1997 Indianapolis 500. Qualified for the race May 10 and that evening won the 415th WoO feature of his career at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind.

40th in 1995 Daytona 500
7 appearances in in International Race of Champions (IROC) Series – 1994, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 – One race win – Talladega 1994
He and son Kraig only father-son duo to have won the Knoxville Nationals

World of Outlaws

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

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


5 starts

1995 Debuted in Daytona 500 (40th)


1 start

1997 Indianapolis 500 (14th)


Feature wins at Sydney Speedway: 22 – 12th on all time winner’s list

1986: Winner Australian Speedcar Grand Prix

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