By Mike O’Leary
April 24, 2011 – The green flag for the eleventh consecutive King of Indiana Sprint Series (KISS) is less than two weeks away. Racers have been working all winter, track preparations have been busy for months, and fans are anxious for the season to get rolling. KISS racing has become a traditional harbinger of spring, and now we can officially say that it is just around the corner.
For decades, dirt sprint car racing has been acknowledged as one of the toughest forms of American motorsports. Clearly the rich history of Indiana’s sprint car wars has helped build the reputation that the KISS series has gained for old fashioned, bare knuckle, wheel-to-wheel competition. The format is simple: six races at six different tracks. Each feature race rewards the winner that night with a good payday and pays points toward the championship. Then after the final checkered flag, the champion is crowned King of Indiana’s sprint cars and recognized after that as among the best of the best.
With Bloomington Speedway opening the racing curtain on Friday, May 6, the 2011 schedule reflects some date juggling by the tracks. Jon Stanbrough held a stranglehold on the KISS races at the Bloomington quarter mile oval from 2006 through 2008, until Chris Windom captured the 2009 event. On May 6, the racing starts with a clean page and several dozen drivers will strap into their machines with the goal of standing in Victory Lane 30 laps later.
A week later, the KISS contingent will travel to the northeastern part of the Hoosier state to do battle at the Gas City I-69 Speedway. Stanbrough was victorious at the Gas City oval in 2007 and 2008, but the past two seasons saw Bryan Clauson and Dave Darland capture thrilling wins. While some could be put off by the Friday the 13th race date, the busy pit lane will guarantee a full compliment of racing action.
The following weekend, Lawrenceburg Speedway hosts the Saturday night KISS party. The interesting thing about KISS history at Lawrenceburg is that after five years of competition, no one has won more than once. Before Brady Short collected last year’s victory, Stanbrough, A.J. Anderson, Brandon Petty and Californian Nik Faas celebrated triumphs. Situated along the Ohio River, only minutes west of Cincinnati, May 21 will be a big night for Lawrenceburg Speedway regulars and KISS followers alike.
Haubstadt, Indiana’s Tri-State Speedway is the next stopping point for the KISS series, on Sunday, June 19. The site of Justin Marvel’s victory during the inaugural season of KISS competition, Daron Clayton scored back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008, with Brady Short and Jeff Bland Jr. joined the KISS winners list at the past two events. Deep in the state’s southwestern corner, just outside Evansville, Tri-State is another oval that attracts a strong contingent of racers from outside Indiana’s borders.
Less than an hour’s drive south from the capital city of the Hoosier state, Paragon Speedway opens a doubleheader weekend wrapping up this year’s KISS tour on Saturday, June 25. While Paragon has been the site of the season finale in recent years, this time the facility sets the table for the concluding round. Jon Stanbrough and the Fox Brothers team has three consecutive wins in KISS competition at Paragon, but each event has demonstrated the enthusiasm of Paragon’s regular racers.
Topping off a big weekend of racing, the 2011 KISS series concludes the next night, Sunday, June 26, at Kokomo Speedway. After the final laps are run and the points counted, a new King Of Indiana Sprint car racing will be crowned. Known as one of the toughest ovals in the Midwest, Kokomo is the only other track on the KISS itinerary that hasn’t had a repeat winner. Stanbrough collected last year’s victory, and before him, Billy Puterbaugh, Hunter Schuerenberg, Shane Cottle, Mat Neely and Kent Christian registered wins.
KISS isn’t a touring series as each track is responsible for conducting the event in accordance with their track rules and the guidelines agreed-to by the promoters. Drivers draw for heat race starting positions, and features will be 30 laps. KISS events pay $2,500 to win and $250 to start the feature. The B-Main pays $50 to all starters who do not transfer to the feature. The $3,600 point fund awards the top five point finishers, with $1,000 going to the 2011 King of Indiana Sprints.
2011 KISS SCHEDULE
May 6 Bloomington Speedway
May 13 Gas City I-69 Speedway
May 21 Lawrenceburg Speedway
June 19 Tri-State Speedway
June 25 Paragon Speedway
June 26 Kokomo Speedway