When Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, and Doug Wolfgang were competing in the same race during the 1980’s, it was almost unthinkable that one of them wouldn’t win it.
Kinser stuck to racing the full Outlaws slate most years of the decade, while Swindell and Wolfgang ran at other tracks as opposed to the entirety of the schedule.
It was a big deal when all of them showed up to the same race.
“When all of those guys were at an event, you could put (a lot of) money on one of those guys winning the race,” Brad Doty said, just 35 years after beating the trio.
Each took to the track trying to compete for a victory during the 1986 Pacific Coast Nationals at Ascot Park.
In fact, him and Bobby Davis Jr. just about made them, along with the rest of the field, look obsolete for a night.
“It made me more proud (of the win), and I know Davis Jr. was disappointed running second, but just knowing we’d kept those guys back was pretty pleasing,” Doty said. “It was just tough to beat those guys.”
Brad Doty, a Saturday night at Ascot, and a Memory that lasts Forever
The race itself was an instant classic, but how Doty arrived to what was the 1986 World of Outlaws Sprint Car season finale might have been just as impressive.
Going into the season, Doty was slated to race the No. 18 Gambler House Chassis car in a full Outlaws schedule.
The team was similar to that of a factory team in AMA Supercross. The company supplies the team with an unlimited catalog of parts available for trimmed down and sometimes free prices.
Days before the ’86 season was supposed to begin at Volusia, the owner of Doty’s car pulled his funding due to a divorce he was going through.
That left Doty and his crew chief, Kevin Woodruff, without a ride for ’86.
“Kenny Woodruff became the car owner and tried to keep it going,” Doty said. “Even back then it was pretty darn expensive.”
It was their only option to be competitive.
“By the time all of this fell through, it was way too late for me to find another ride,” Doty said. “Woodruff and I decided to stick together and make a go of it knowing the car would have to pay for itself, basically.”
Doty and Woodruff would attempt a run at the complete schedule on their own, all with the pressure of being competitive to make ends meet.
The Millersburg, Ohio native won the first race of the season, but had to replace a piston that was burnt following the opening race victory. Had they been with the factory team, it wouldn’t have been an issue.
“There was no other high dollar car owner that could spend the funds to really contend,” Doty said. “That’s part of racing. There’s always going to be those that can outspend others no matter what rules they make.”
They knew it was going to be difficult.
Halfway through the season, the team was feeling the pressure. Doty said even Woodruff would admit that he didn’t really have the funds to keep the car going.
Fortunately, for the duo, they got a call from Gambler House Chassis and a team owned by Fred Marks and Les Keppler.
The chassis company wanted the pair of Californian car owners to take in Doty in exchange for the car they were currently running in the series, driven by Jimmy Sills.
“They took the tank, the hood, the wings, and body panels off of the car that we were running and put it right on their race car,” Doty said.
Sills was let go, the Coors Light sponsorship was retained, and Doty would continue racing his No. 18 through to the end of the season.
The ’86 Pacific Coast Nationals
Doty and Davis Jr. would lead the field to the green flag that night at Ascot Park.
They were followed by Kinser, Swindell, and Wolfgang; however, the three never threatened to break up an eccentric battle for the lead.
Davis Jr. lead the first handful of laps before attempting to hold off a charging Doty.
By the time that battle reached its peak, the two were trading slide jobs at seemingly every turn.
“That was one of the best races that I’ve ever been in,” Doty said. “We passed each other four times in one lap.”
Davis Jr. was no slouch himself. He went on to win the World of Outlaws points championship in 1989.
But, this was Brad Doty at Ascot Park. He dominated there, winning the first two races of the 1987 season, – also both at Ascot – too.
“It’s not hard for me to answer the question of what my favorite race track was,” Doty said. “For a midwestern guy from Ohio it was pretty cool to be running there – let alone to be winning races.”
Doty would battle with Davis Jr. and eventually hold the lead whilst a caution came out.
That gave him the advantage over the No. 6 car.
Doty utilized the open track in front of him, nailing that restart and an ensuing one afterwards, and went on to win one of sprint car racing’s Crown Jewel events.
“Absolutely, it was the biggest win of my career,” Doty said. “It was one of the crown jewels of sprint car racing. It was a – at that time – a major event and if you could pull off a win there, you’d done something.”
That’s just what Doty had done that night.
He took down the entire field, along with three of the best to ever do it.
“Those guys were all in their prime and so to beat all of those guys, not to mention all of the World of Outlaws regulars and California’s best… that was a big win for me.”
The next season, Kinser would go on to win 46 feature events over the year – an unthinkable in today’s series.
Doty finished that year in second place, winning just four events compared to ‘The King’s’ collection.
“To beat him at any time was pretty unusual,” Doty said. “I saw a lot of the back of his race cars, so for him to see the back of mine that night was pretty cool.”
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