To many of the fans who filled the grandstands and cheered for their racing heroes, the 1991 season was simply another year in which Steve Kinser dominated the nomadic World of Outlaws sprint car series that had been crisscrossing the nation since 1978.
Under the leadership of series founder Ted Johnson, the 1991 WoO season stretched from the Feb. 22 opener at Arizona’s Yuma Speedway to the Oct. 19 finale when the last checkered flag was waved at North Texas Speedway in Royse City, Texas.
Kinser, a hard-nosed, second-generation racer from Bloomington, Ind., won 36 main events that season en route to his 11th series title. He earned more than $425,000 in series prize money.
Now, 30 years later, history tells us the 1991 World of Outlaws season was actually about much more than Kinser’s continued domination.
A review of the top-20 drivers in the final WoO point standings from that year reveals a who’s who of sprint car racing, and the elite group comprises the deepest single-season talent pool in World of Outlaws history.
The list includes drivers who have raced at Indianapolis and Daytona, and been to victory lane at Charlotte and Talladega.
Fifteen of the 20 racers have been inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Six are World of Outlaws champions, seven have won the Knoxville Nationals and eight have visited victory lane at the Kings Royal.
Seventeen of the drivers have combined to win an amazing 2,010 World of Outlaws features.
Several of them are still active in sprint car racing, and a few of them are still driving.
Here’s a look at the top-20 drivers in the 1991 World of Outlaws point standings and a brief overview of their racing accomplishments:
1. Steve Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.: The King claimed his 11th World of Outlaws championship aboard Karl Kinser’s sprint car in 1991. His amazing stats include 690 WoO feature victories, 20 series titles and 12 Knoxville Nationals wins. He also raced at Indy and Daytona, and won an IROC event at Talladega.
2. Mark Kinser, Oolitic, Ind.: Driving for Ray and Jay Williams, Kinser had his best season to date in 1991. He went on to win two World of Outlaws titles while driving for his father, Karl Kinser. He totaled 203 WoO victories before quietly walking away from the sport in 2006.
3. Joe Gaerte, Rochester, Ind.: The son of engine builder Earl Gaerte was the picture of consistency during the 1991 WoO sprint car season, qualifying for every main event. He recorded 10 victories during his Outlaws career. Today, Gaerte is the team manager/crew chief for Alex Bowman’s open-wheel operation.
4. Stevie Smith, New Oxford, Pa.: A second-generation sensation who honed his skills on the tracks of central Pennsylvania, Smith was in his sophomore season with the World of Outlaws in 1991. He enjoyed a 31-year sprint car career that included 84 WoO victories before becoming a business owner.
5. Dave Blaney, Hartford, Ohio: Already a series champion, Blaney notched four WoO A-feature victories in 1991. He eventually moved to NASCAR where he made 597 starts across the three national series. Blaney recorded his 95th World of Outlaws victory in May of this year at age 58.
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