For the 2nd year in a row, the entire sports staff at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is going to host a day long event on the day following Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament. This year, that falls on March 12th. The event will once again be hosted by the Oxmoor Center on Shelbyville Road, and will encompass a total of 6 hosts and 13 hours of sports programming. Plus, we will host a BRACKET CHALLENGE with a chance to win a super-nice Gorilla Basketball Goal, courtesy of Steepleton's. Below is the entire rundown of events, so feel free to head out to Oxmoor any time in the day and you will get your sports fix headed into tournament time:
7-10AM: The EarlyBirds w/ Drew Deener
10-12PM: KentuckySportsRadio w/Matt Jones
12-1PM: Lachlan Mclean on WKRD
1-2PM: Drew Deener on WKRD
2-3PM: Dave Jennings and Tony Vanetti
3-530PM: The Afternoon Underdogs w/Tony and Dave
530-6PM: Terry Meiners
7-9PM: Occupy Lachlan (the entire cast of hosts together on stage at the same time)
WHERE TO LISTEN ON THE AIR
Early Birds with Drew Deener
7-10AM (790AM WKRD)
The Tom Leach Show
9-10AM (1080AM WKJK)
KentuckySportsRadio with Matt Jones
10AM-12PM (1080AM WKJK)
Joe B. and Denny Show
10AM-12PM (790AM WKRD)
The Afternoon Underdogs with Dave Jennings and Tony Vanetti
3-530PM (790AM WKRD)
Sportstalk84 with Lachlan McLean
7-9PM (840AM WHAS)
“When I watched my Dad race at the Sportsdrome and Louisville.”
That is when Will Kimmel knew he wanted to race. His father cut his teeth at the Jeffersonville Sportsdrome in Southern Indiana, and then at the now closed Louisville Motor Speedway. He then watched his Dad become a Champion at Louisville and Charlestown Speedway. Now, as a father-son duo, they are trying to make Will a Champion. For the last decade plus, the Kimmel name has been synonymous with winning. Following the 2007 season, the crew chief/driver duo of Bill Kimmel Jr and Frank Kimmel started Kimmel Racing. While they were busy trying to achieve success with a largely volunteer team, Will was cutting his teeth at the grisly Salem Speedway. But it was 1998 when Will got his first taste of racing.
“I got started in racing in 1998 running Mini-Cup’s. Outside of my parents, I couldn’t have done it without Bob Peters. Bob is still involved with my racing today.” It was Bob Peters with Clarksville Schwinn Cycling that helped fund Will’s early years of racing. Will took to racing like a fish to water, but it didn’t come without a learning curve. “My first wreck? It wasn’t serious, but I wrecked at the Sportsdrome during practice day before the season. I was simply driving over my head.” Will would use lessons like this, and his father’s knowledge to accumulate 88 wins, two Valvoline Cup Championships and three MMRA National Championships.
It wasn’t simply show up and race with the Kimmel’s. At every level of competition in any sport, preparation is key. Bill, Will and Bob knew no differently. “Car preparation was huge and I learned that early. We had two cars everywhere we went, and two motors separate from what was in the cars already. Bob took it very seriously and that showed all the time.” After dominating the MMRA series (winning 21 of 23 races his final season), Will and Co. made the jump to Legends cars. Admittedly, this was a huge jump. Going from running full-throttle to learning brake pressure and throttle control would prove to be a grind. “We struggled the first half of the year and got better the second half, but we only ran 11 races that season.”
His first venture into a full bodied stock car wouldn’t last long. “My first time in a super stock was the fall of 2004. We tested at Salem and blew up after ten laps.” Will’s first full season in a stock car would be 2005, running the Super Stock class at Salem. With no expectations going in, Will came out with Rookie of the Year honors and runner-up in the points. “We didn’t know what to expect. Dad said it was all about seat time, and I was learning so much, so fast. We never changed so much as a spring.” In 2006 he would jump up and play with the big boys at Salem, racing in the wildly competitive Super Late Model division. He would be racing against the same guys his father raced against at Louisville in the 90’s. “2006 was an eye opener for sure. We won the first race I ever ran in a late model. The car was awesome, brand new, far past how good I was driving it. To run against Chuck Barnes Jr, Keith Gardner and Joe Williamson was intense. We raced hard. But I learned I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.” Will would take home Rookie of the Year honors that season.
In 2007, Will set his sights on winning the Super Late Model championship and he would do just that. This would add a 13th track championship to his career total. With his local objectives conquered, Will went into the winter not knowing what 2008 would offer. Uncle Frank had just won his 9th ARCA Championship and was setting sights on a brand new ARCA team with Bill. Will would get some seat time in ARCA cars from 2008-2011, most of them start and parks. Every racecar driver hates start and parks, but for smaller teams they are almost necessary. “Simply put, it keeps our owners points going and gives us a little money back.” But running races here and there in regional late model series and super stock races won’t pay the bills. Neither will start and parks. This is when Will realized he needed to do something.
“I had to start Kimmel Lawn Service in 2008 after working for a guy on ’07. Dad and Frank had started Kimmel Racing on their own money, and I couldn’t go there and work because they weren’t paying. Mom and Dad couldn’t just give me money so I started it to give me a little money before we left for the races and it just grew. Luckily I can do that during the week and race on the weekends. It’s a good deal because I’m making money and it helps keep me in shape.”
Starting, running, and building your own business can be a sign of a person’s character. It was this characteristic, and his abilities on the track, that matched Will up with a Nationwide team for the Kentucky race in 2011. For a brief moment, Will held the provisional pole and would wind up qualifying 15th. “The Nationwide car has more motor and drives better than an ARCA car, but it’s a handful in traffic.” Unfortunately, Will would get overly aggressive in Turn 3 early in the race, losing control of his #39 Crosley sponsored Ford. Contact with the wall would end his day.
To date, his best finish in an ARCA race was at Salem in 2011 when he ran 2nd to Chris Buescher. 2012 has proven to be a relaxing season compared to 2011. What made that possible was Frank’s departure this past winter. “There’s no tension, no drama and Dad gets to do what he wants to the setup before we get to the track. When we’re there, he makes the calls. Our program moves easier on race weekends because of that.” But with any father-son combination, there is a possibility for the two to disagree. “We both give it 110%, so we do get into it sometimes. But that’s just a part of it. 2012 has been great.”
The drama for Kimmel Racing in 2012 has been more under the hood than behind closed doors. Trying to stretch dollars this season, they have blown 5 motors so far. Two of those cost Will probable Top 5’s in the closing laps of races at Mobile and Springfield. But they have kept their heads up. “Our goals are simple. Keep going as long as we can and race when we can afford it. I don’t care where we race.”
When asked about his favorite win, it’s not hard to answer. “Rockingham. Kurt was fun to run against, it was clean, hard racing. We had a lot of fun and it was just a great day.” This win was the 2010 Polar Bear 150, a Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals race. Will would lead 148 of 150 laps, battling all day with 2004 NASCAR Champion Kurt Busch. Kimmel is quick to note that finishing 3rd at Daytona this season in ARCA was “on that same level.”
Running a lawn care business and a racing career leaves very little free time. But when Will does stumble upon a free weekend, his hobbies don’t take him far away from a racing environment. “I like going to rod runs, the drive in, going to a race or a truck pull. Or just a night off. But I’m always on the go. I can’t sit still.” It’s hard to sit still when your profession is driving 180mph. Ultimately it all comes down to one thing and Kimmel sums it up very well. “All I want to do it win.”
-By Daniel Farish