November 21, 2006: Strike settled. Put down the picket signs and get back to work. The only champion that the National Sprint Tour will ever know, “Danny The Dude” Lasoski, and the eternal King of the Outlaws, Steve Kinser, will contest the 2007 World of Outlaws championship. All is well with the American majority.
See Steve become unhappy. See Steve take cars elsewhere. See Steve lose money. See Steve come home.
The question is not why NST died, but why it existed at all? No one, least of all Kinser, was able to aptly explain, though his attorney came close.
Basically, a giant disconnect developed between WoO traveling teams of 2005 and its front office. As its centerpiece, Kinser wanted more control of his destiny. But just like in 1989 when the only other strike occurred, Steve suffered the false impression that everyone would follow. Only half did. And two halves never make a whole.
Guys like Donny Schatz and Terry McCarl listened to the grievances, discussed the option of separation, and realized that splitting ranks was a knee-jerk reaction.
Their disgruntled friends were supposed to be showered in Petty cash. Two people who would not know a sprint car from a champ car, Richard Petty and no-drivin’ son Kyle, backed the new group. Flew everyone to Dover and had ‘em scouting houses on Lake Norman. Yet two months later, Pettys washed their hands of the whole mess. NST (it was NSL then) should have ended there, except the end came too late for Fred Brownfield to get his WoO dates back. So he kept it going.
Brownfield was a great guy. Did a lot of great things for a lot of deserving people. Had he lived, this NST epitaph may never have been written. But the fact that he was a great man does not disguise how he kept NST alive purely out of personal need, not for any grand vision for the sport in general.
Sunday on Speed TV when Dave Despain asked if NST would have lived if Fred had done the same, the answer was classic Kinser “definitely probably” double talk.
Steve’s return to the World of Outlaws was certainly influenced by Quaker State, his sponsor of 12 years. How could they look at the 2007 WoO television package and allow him to push their oil in a rival series with no TV, no sponsor, and no president?
Another factor to Kinser dropping it like a burned match is that by restricting himself to NST, Steve found himself behind in Big Money meets at Knoxville and Eldora. Again, this mirrored 1989 when Doug Wolfgang ran all races, Steve stayed loyal to USA, and was whipped by Wolfgang all summer.
It was supposed to be different this time. We were not to compare it to ‘89. Surely, Steve was smarter this time. Experience had to teach him that establishing a new sanctioning body could not be done in a single season. He had some sharp minds in his corner. Yet one year was all the trouble it was worth to him.
Another parallel from 1989 is that the World of Outlaws became stronger because of the United Sprint Association. The late Ted Johnson had become complacent, but never took his group for granted again. When he sold the club, its new owners took for granted that they would be seen as saviors who could feed the constituents anything (or tell it nothing) and everyone would just continue on down the road. They now know better. NST was a big “wake up” call to DIRT Motorsports.
Kinser will bounce back. He’s The King. But what about Jason Meyers? Jason Sides? Shane Stewart? Brian Paulus? Tim Shaffer? Kerry Madsen? Their teams operated at a loss in the hope of a brighter future. In the end, all they got were two years with no tow money, and one year with no point money.
And what of Becca Anderson? Brian Carlson? Dion Hindi? Bill Rose? They joined the WoO trail last year largely because of the NST void. All signed up for 2007 tow money. Will they continue to receive their per diem if they continue to miss A-mains? Or will tow money be restructured to reward the returnees?
Big Picture consensus is that Kinser and Lasoski knocking the bottom out of NST is good news to race fans, who suffered a diluted product in 2006. Lasoski wasted no time switching his Sedalia date back to a WoO sanction. Tulare Thunderbowl, which opened and closed NST, also returns to the WoO calendar.
Kinser wants us to believe that his return to The Outlaws was Ted Johnson’s dying wish. Just as he wanted us to believe in USA, NST, and the idea that he was just another face in the crowd when he was really pimpin’ promoters, sponsors and officials.
Race fans should simply admire Steve Kinser’s unequaled skill behind the wheel, stand in line for T-shirts to help his poor wife recoup souvenir sales, but do not believe his words. He sold out his friends in ’89, and he did it again in ’06. Shame on those who trusted him.
"TURN AROUND; MATE !"