Kinser Camping Without Friend in Elma

August 25th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Kinser Camping Without Friend in Elma

ELMA, Wash. – Every year since 1996, Steve Kinser has camped at Elma, Wash. in late August.

That will be the case again this week as Kinser and the other drivers in the National Sprint Tour race at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 25 and 26.

When Kinser parks his motorhome inside the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds property, he pretty much knows who else will be parked around him.

“There’s just something about being there and being with the fans,” Kinser said. “It is really special. You can just about tell who’s going to be parked where, because people park in the same place every year.”

One person Kinser particularly enjoyed camping with over the years was his good friend Fred Brownfield, who brought the 410 racing weekend to Elma for the first time in 1996.

Brownfield, a Washington racer turned businessman and promoter, took over promotions of the track’s weekly races in 1998, and started the National Sprint Tour last December.

In 2003, Brownfield began an extensive renovation of the county-owned facility. By the time Kinser swept the late August weekend in 2004, the track had been transformed into one of the premier dirt tracks in the country, widely praised by all who visited.

On June 16, Brownfield was struck and killed on the Elma track while lining up cars for a race. Brownfield’s death was a huge loss to many, including Kinser.

“I always look forward to going to the Northwest,” Kinser said. “But it won’t be the same this year. We always camped with Fred and Debbie. I’m sure I’ll still enjoy Elma, but I’m also sure when I get there it won’t be the same. Kind of like how the rest of the year hasn’t been the same.”

The eyes of the tough Sprint car “King” well up when mentioning Brownfield, just as they did in June when NST competitors observed a moment of silence in their first race since Brownfield’s passing.

“It’s hard not to think about it,” Kinser said. “We spent quite a bit of time traveling with Fred. It’s definitely going to be different.”

Kinser, who along with Guy Stockbridge, Lonny Parsons and Don Lamberti purchased the assets of the NST from Fred’s widow Debbie, doesn’t know what his emotions will be like once he gets to Elma.

“It will be hard to say,” he said. “I’ll see Debbie. I’m sure she’ll be at the track.”

Kinser had success at the track before it was reconfigured, and has had even more success at the track in the last couple of years. He swept the weekend in 2004, won last year’s preliminary night feature and was second in last year’s Saturday finale.

As someone who remembers what the facility was like before 2004, Kinser is still impressed by the changes.

“The track is unbelievable,” he said. “It’s not even the same race track from what it was. Fred did a lot of work on it, and fixed it up real nice.”

Though he is locked in a tight points battle with Danny Lasoski, Kinser said this time of year is more relaxing due to the Knoxville Nationals being over, cooler nights and a relaxing trip to the Northwest.

“We enjoy racing,” Kinser said. “Racing is a little more relaxing this time of year. We have friends on the West Coast we spend time with on the swing. (Wife) Dana and I enjoy it.

“It’s a combination of everything,” Kinser added. “We drive to it every year. That’s enjoyable for us to do. You can’t get much further away than there.”

The Elma weekend kicks off Thursday with a Northern Sprint Tour show, which is always one of the best races of the summer in the Northwest.

Kinser will be joined on the track Friday and Saturday by fellow National Sprint Tour drivers such as Lasoski, Tim Kaeding, Jason Meyers, Jason Sides, Washington native Jason Solwold, Paul McMahan, Shane Stewart, Brian Paulus, Dean Jacobs and Kerry Madsen. Travis Rilat, Jonathan Allard, Washington native Chad Hillier and Stevie Smith are also expected to be on hand, along with local weekly racers.

Besides the racing, plenty of other activities are going on in Elma, including a parade on Saturday.

For more information on Grays Harbor Raceway, visit For a list of events being put on by the Elma Chamber of Commerce, visit and click on the ‘Outlaw Days Festival’ link on the left.

Following Elma, the NST next races Aug. 29 at Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore.