Today’s inductee into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame is a two-time Champion at Lakeside Speedway and a two-time Champion at Savannah Speedway. He was always a sportsman at the track and oh what great talent! I give credit where credit is due, the idea behind this inductee was from a Racinboys discussion. This inductee was born in 1961 and died young in 2000. He was the same age as his racecar number at his passing.
When the Kansas City area went asphalt in 1989 this driver also changed to asphalt competing in the Late Model Division at Lakeside and I-70 Speedway. This driver was competitive with less equipment than most of those he was in competition including the Late Great Hall of Famer Larry Phillips, Hall of Famer John o’ Neal Jr., and future Hall of Famer Jeff Klem. This inductee would compete on the asphalt with the same tires two to three weeks at a time when most teams were putting on a new set each week.
He was Lakeside Speedway’s 1982 and 1983 Street Stock Champion and 1983 and 1985 Street Stock Champion at Savannah Speedway. At Savannah he was recognized like many of us would recognize Hall of Famer Larry Phillips, everyone wanting his autograph. He was a sportsman of the sport without ever winning the Central Auto Racing Boosters Sportsmanship of the Year Award.
According to his crew they never heard him swear, whether at the shop working on the racecar, in accident at the track, or the time the tow vehicle had engine problems on the way to a race at White City, Illinois. He was also known for reciting scripture and studying the bible while working on the racecar.
He got his start by attending the races at Riverside Stadium. He witnessed former school mate Tim Karrick in competition and thought well if Tim could race so could he, so he purchased his first race car, a 1967 Chevelle.
He learned his trade by working on his racecar. The landlord of his shop was okay with his business but did not want any racecars around the shop. However, he explained to the landlord his racing paid her rent, so she relented and actually came to like racing. Her first impression of racers which was common at the time was they were a bunch of deadbeat people, she learned otherwise as have many over the years.
This Hall of Fame Inductee did not like spicy foods such as tacos or Italian food such as spaghetti, no garlic, no onion, he did like pizza, but his preferred food was hamburgers. His widow to this day keeps a corner of her basement as a tribute to her husband.
He was ornery as most racers can be and sometime this comes in various forms, whether over engineering the rules or displaying items in the shop which would cause people to talk! The part in the shop was a hydraulic weight jack which caused many at to the track to accuse him of running an illegal part. When checked it was not there! He would also run an under the dash oil can which he could open a petcock and make his engine smoke. One time though the whole can dumped creating a huge ball of smoke and doused his shoes, but it kept him from being claimed that night.
This inductee won the Pepsi Challenge at the original Lakeside Speedway four years in a row. After the fourth win he was challenged (disqualified) for running a radiator and a heater core which was tied to the Petty bar in the racecar. Per his crew he had been running this all four years and the rule read must run OEM type cooling system. NASCAR Representative and Racingkc.com Hall of Famer Jim Wilson agreed with this driver the way the rule was written he was legal.
This driver was known for clean driving, not giving anyone the bumper to get past. However, one time he did put a donut on Hall of Famer Doug Richard’s door. Doug was known for trying to grab a spot or two during yellow flag laps and sometimes he got away with it. This was before such things as raceivers in the cars. Doug tried pulling up and passing this driver and instead he got a door donut and did not get this driver’s position. As a side note to this story, when Hall of Famer John O’Neal had his serious accident at I-70 Speedway in 1997, Doug Richards called all the drivers together and led a prayer for John. The stories that are shared about behind the scenes actions are always fun, always appreciated, and the reason I enjoy doing these write ups and inductions!
This inductee helped his crewman get started in racing. He wanted his crewman to understand the language and what a driver sees and feels on the track. After all this crewman was his spotter on the asphalt. Many of those in racing need to experience either a ride along or the actual experience of driving a racecar.
His crewman competed in the Pony Stocks and we all share the story of the racecar which kept doubling in price. We bought a Pony Stock which Diana raced for two years for $600, sold it to the crewman for $1,250, who sold it for $2,400, which was then sold for $4,000 before we lost track of the 1976 Mustang II.
This inductee competed on both dirt and asphalt. On dry slick dirt he was extremely hard to beat and often ran reverse stagger (taller tires on the left) to make the car work. He competed at Riverside Stadium, Lakeside Speedway (original and current locations), White City, Illinois, Savannah, Central Missouri Speedway, Bolivar, and Lebanon Speedways. In 1993, when Lakeside flooded, he and his crew would travel on Friday to Bolivar and race, spend the night at his Dad’s cabin at Pomme De Terre Lake, race Saturday at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, then Sunday get up and go to the local Church of Christ, spend the afternoon on the Lake, and return home that evening.
His last dirt win was in a Late Model at Central Missouri Speedway. This win came on very dry slick track where everyone was looking for traction. Late in the race his car hooked up but was running on 7 cylinders. With less horsepower he was able to pass everyone and take the checkered flag. After the race his engine was claimed only to discover a push rod had come up through the valve cover.
In 1999, this inductee was diagnosed with urachal cancer which is of the umbilical cord, 1/3 of us have a portion of the umbilical cord remaining from birth. This cancer spreads from there to the bladder. Hall of Famer Ron Hartford was visiting this inductee in the hospital and informed his crewman/spotter Mark Gaither that the inductee wanted to see him. A few hours after Mark’s visit the inductee passed.
The racer we have been discussing is none other than Kenny King. Today, we induct Kenny King driver of the #39 racecar to the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.