Looking Back at Kofoid’s Time in Midgets Before Becoming an Outlaw

Buddy Kofoid Trent Gower

By Alex Nieten
CHILLICOTHE, OH (May 23, 2024) – The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars will be joined by some open-wheel companions this weekend (May 24-25) at Atomic Speedway. The Xtreme Outlaw Midgets presented by Toyota are also set for two nights of action at the Chillicothe, OH oval.

The pair of evenings will mark the seventh and eighth times the two Series have converged since Xtreme was born in 2022.

Even when Sprint Cars and Midgets aren’t competing on the same card, the worlds are often intertwined. Sprint Car drivers occasionally test their talents in a Midget, especially at the Chili Bowl Nationals, and sometimes Midget drivers like to strap some wings and four extra cylinders on.

For one current full-time World of Outlaws driver, a stint in Midgets elevated his career and helped guide him to The Greatest Show on Dirt. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid cut his teeth in Sprint Cars from his early teenage years in California. Even when he moved to Ohio to broaden his horizons in the sport, Midgets weren’t on the radar. And then an important message appeared on his phone on his way to a Sprint Car Race at, oddly enough, Atomic Speedway.

“I think I was actually on the way to Atomic for either an All-Star race or a FAST show,” Kofoid recalled. “And I got a text on Twitter from Jack Irving from TRD (Toyota Racing Development) saying, ‘Hey, give me a call Monday’ basically. I knew who it was, and I was like ‘Oh my god. I wonder what this could be about.

“I called him, and we talked Monday. And right before he hung up, he said Keith (Kunz) and Pete (Willoughby) from KKM (Keith Kunz Motorsports) will be calling you. And then he hung up.”

The call proved to be life changing for the then 17-year-old. KKM brought Kofoid on to test the waters in a Midget late that year, and he promptly won a local race at Jacksonville Speedway along with picking up a pair of POWRi podiums.

The following year Kofoid tackled his first full USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget campaign and finished fourth in points. Then in 2021 and 2022, Kofoid claimed back-to-back USAC championships, becoming the 12th driver to do so. His 13 wins in 32 races during the 2022 season established a new record for highest winning percentage in a year (40.63%). He’s also won a pair of Chili Bowl prelim Features (2022 & 2024) and finished runner-up in this year’s finale.

“I think first and foremost running for KKM, I couldn’t have run for a better team,” Kofoid said of his Midget success. “With Mobil 1 and Toyota, who I’m happy to still be with to this day, having them in my corner and their knowledge and ability and everything, I think that helped speed up my learning curve.”

The time in Midgets not only developed him as a driver, but it also established connections leading him to where he is today. The 22-year-old is navigating his rookie campaign with the World of Outlaws with Roth Motorsports and Toyota Racing Engines under the hood. Connecting with KKM set him down a fruitful path with Toyota.

“Toyota has changed my life, for sure,” Kofoid said. “I’ve gotten to do things that I’d never done before and that I never thought I’d be able to do because of Toyota and Mobil 1… Toyota, they work harder than any manufacturer in the world. If there’s a problem, they get it fixed and want it done right. And they won’t be done until it’s perfect.”

The speed with Toyota power has continued in the Sprint Car for Kofoid. His debut campaign with The Greatest Show on Dirt has been nothing short of a success. He’s taken the Roth Motorsports #83 to 18 top 10s in 21 races including a current streak of 16 in a row. The Californian has podiumed on seven occasions this year including a win at Attica Raceway Park.

And even though he’s moved into racing Sprint Cars full-time, Midgets will always be important Kofoid. They helped shape him. They established important connections he’ll always value. Kofoid might be with the World of Outlaws now, but he has no plans on fully giving up Midget racing. Especially with a Golden Driller chip on his shoulder.

“I’ll run Midgets as long as I can, especially Chili Bowl,” Kofoid said. “I feel like I’m close to being able to win it. And that’s kind of, in my eyes, the last thing on my bucket list as far as Midgets that I feel like I need to check off to be really proud of what I’ve done in Midgets. Pete and Keith and Toyota have said whenever I want to run a Midget, I’ll have a place at KKM.”

The rookie World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car season for Buddy Kofoid continues this weekend at Atomic Speedway (May 24-25) alongside the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series. Then the tour heads to Fremont Speedway on Monday, May 27. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.