ORLANDO - Local speed enthusiast and ageless wonder Willard Kinzer won his third Wally on December 16 at Orlando Speed World Dragway. The weekend event was Carl Weisinger’s farewell to the racetrack that he had managed for 25 years. With this being Weisinger’s farewell race it also brings to mind Willard’s grandson’s race at Eldora Speedway in 2004. Brandon Kinzer won the UMP National Late Model race in October of 2004 as owner Earl Baltes gave his farewell to the Rossburg, Ohio track after 51 years of service.
Willard was the top qualifier in the 1/8 mile Small Tire X275 class which is quite a change from the 1/4 Mile 10.5W class he normally participates in. The Orlando track, because of the “wavy” surface, is a challenge to any driver to keep his car grounded at high speeds. This required a completely new tune and setup by Patrick Barnhill and Jeff Lutz on his 1989 Twin Turbo Mustang.
The announcer introduced Willard as he rolled up to the line as the 84 year youngster driving the “fastest car in the United States” only to correct himself by stating “the fastest car in the world” but, not taking any chances…correction again, “fastest car in the universe.” Willard was indeed the fastest car in his class that night in Orlando with his quickest time of 4.99s at 167MPH through the 1/8 mile. Willard was in the zone all weekend as he not only won every race but did so in part by having his 84-year-old reflexes provide him the best light against every opponent with the slowest reaction time of the weekend being a .089. Now, for anyone that doesn’t follow racing close, that means that the 84-year-old reacted in .089 (.034 was his quickest) of a second from a light changing from yellow to green, all this done on a .400 Pro Tree which requires instant reflexes to begin with. The .089 effort was his slowest reaction time. Guess he must has been day dreaming about his lovely wife Lucy.
Willard powered his Mustang through four races with the Championship race being the most exciting as he went up against the number two qualifier. The car lost traction off the launch and Willard had to get out of the throttle, get the Mustang back to gripping the pavement and finally ran his opponent down just before they tripped the light at the 1/8 mile mark.
Willard started the season winning his second Wally in Bradenton, Fla., early this year and finished up the season winning his 3rd Wally at Orlando Speed World Dragway. Not a bad year for the youngster.