By Gary "Hammerdown" Costa
Q&A with California Sprint Car ace Kevin Kierce
Kevin, how ya doing!?
Kevin: Great! Just eating chocolate, that s my addiction, well, chocolate and adrenaline!
How did you get into this deal?
Kevin: Well, my Dad was CRA rookie of the year in 1963, so I was sorta born into it. When I was 19, my brother owned a car, and wanted to sell out. So, my dad and I partnered up and bought him out. My first race was the Don Peabody Classic at Ascot in 1984. I was rookie of the year runner up in 85, and we ran most of the 86 season as well. Then I drove for a couple of different people in 87 & 88, and didn t drive again until Ventura in 1995. In 97 I started driving for Ray Swann. Since then Ray and I have become like family.
Are you ready to get the elbows up!?
Kevin: I'm ALWAYS! Ready to get my elbows up!
Where do you plan on running this year? What are your plans?
Kevin: Well we started 05 in Tucson on Jan 1st, we will run the inaugural SCRA 360 at Tulare in Feb. We will run all of the VRA races. Perhaps a couple USAC/CRA races at Ventura with our 360, and of course as many 1/4 midget races that we can make with my 14 year old son.
As a driver, what goes through your head during the off season?
Kevin: For the first three or four weeks its very relaxing, BUT! By the sixth week I can't wait to get back at it.
Do you reflect on the previous season and what you could have done differently?
Kevin: Not so much on the previous season, but, every Monday I have a large list of things I would have done different the previous Saturday night.
Ventura is a racy little joint, what do you do to find the fastest way to get around there?
Kevin: Great question. I think the coolest thing about Ventura is how much it changes throughout the night. Even throughout a main event it changes drastically.
The racing looks so intense there. At times it looks like guys go where only Eagles dare to fly!
Kevin: Ya gotta do what you gotta do!
What do you do to mentally prepare yourself to go out there and give it all you've got?
Kevin: I think being a good driver is almost a way of life. I think if you are smooth and patient in your street car, it will reflect in your racing. I need to ride the bike or jog a bit more than I do now. And, If I'm racing Saturday, I wont even have a beer with dinner Friday night. I just think you need to be as sharp as possible. At the track, I actually sleep in the car in the staging lanes.
OK, you're under red flag conditions, you're sitting in second with 2 to go. What are some of the thoughts that would be going through your head?
Kevin: Who s third? Is he running high or low, am I faster then he is? Is VRA gonna let my crew chief out to adjust on the car? Is the beer on ice? And, who s the sexy blonde in the top row of the grandstands in turn one?
What's your opinion on the going's on with the 360s right now. Do you feel their needs to be more cooperation between associations? K
Kevin: I like the whole SCRA thing, with SCRA, the owners and drivers have a say in the rules. I would like to see something similar with VRA. I don t think that we could stand anymore associations at this time. I DO feel that the associations need to cooperate at least a little bit. I understand that you can't run a whole season and not have conflicting dates but, it seems that sometimes they intentionally schedule against each other, and I think that is just stupid.
If you were President of a racing club, what rules would you implement or drop?
Kevin: WOW, it's really easy for all of us to second guess the whole issue but! I think that the rules that are in-place are pretty damn good. I just think I would ask the owners and drivers for their input, maybe even put a couple issues to vote.
If I were your car owner, I had unlimited funding, where would we run and why?
Kevin: You say "we". I am honored to think I would be your driver. I think we would start out at the Chili Bowl. Then, the USAC/CRA season opener at Perris, then we would have to take the Silver Crown car to Phoenix for the Copper Classic, then the VRA season opener, of course we would be in Indiana for the entire month of May, you know with rookie orientation and all. Should I keep going???
What track have you not ran, but are itching to?
Kevin: As crazy as this might sound, Tulare. I've never even seen the place, but ask me again on Feb. 26th.
You won "The sexiest" driver contest a while back at The Wagsdash. Would you say that's your biggest thrill to date?
Kevin: As fun as that was, it's tough to beat the excitement of jumping out of an airplane at just over 2 miles above the earth. ( I have almost 1,000 skydives)
Just messing with you Kevin! Anything else you would like the fans to know about you?
Kevin: Just that I am as big of a sprint car fan as anyone out there, I've just got a great seat to see the action up close.
Who are your sponsors? Anyone you would like to thank?
Kevin: Direct Tire, Metropolis Disposal, J.F.K. Co., Burbank Speed and Machine, Schroeder torsion bars, Cinema Vehicle Services. I'd like to thank my car owner Ray Swann, my other car owner Gordy Gilbert, My new partner in my new sprint car Bruce Collie. My crew, Justin (my son), Hunter, Felix, John, Russ, and George.
Kevin, thank you and good luck this year!
Kevin: Thank you Hammer, and I would like to wish everyone a GREAT 2005, and invite all of the fans to stop by our trailer after the races, for a soda, a picture, a t-shirt, or just to say hi.