One of the noted members of Sprint Car racing’s “Pennsylvania Posse” that proved to be a stiff challenge to any of the invaders that come into the Keystone State, Keith Kauffman (June 9, 1950) of Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, won over 300 races in 13 states and notched two of those victories in Australia. And he was always tough to beat not matter where he raced.
Kauffman began racing in 1970 and for the first 10 years of his Sprint Car career he was his own car owner. He then moved on to drive 32 different Sprint Cars, but is best remembered for his yeoman efforts in the rides that were field by EMPA Hall of Fame members Bob Weikert (No. 29) and Al Hamilton ( No. 77), and the Hardee’s-sponsored No. 880 of Roy Morral.
Kauffman took these cars to Victory Lane on many occasions – he had 84 wins alone in the Hamilton machine – and had great success at every track where he raced.
If one track suited his style of racing it was Port Royal Speedway where he won 130 races (128 in Sprint Cars and two in Late Models) and 13 track championships (1978-1981, 1984-1986, 1988, 1999, 2001-2002, 2004 & 2007). He is also a two-time (1978 & 2003) winner of Port Royal’s famed Tuscarora 50.
Kauffman also did quite well at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where he recorded 51 victories on the fast half-mile. He also set single-season records there in 1984 for the most victories (13) and the most top-five finishes (25). He won a pair of track championships (1984 & 1985) at The Grove in the Hamilton No. 77.
In 1984, Kauffman was also the champion at the half-mile Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway, where he won 11 career races, and at Susquehanna Speedway in Newberrytown, Pennsylvania, where he won 24 features during his career on that half-mile red-clay layout.
Kauffman was also the Sprint Car Speedweeks Champion in Ohio (1987), Pennsylvania (1996) and Western Pennsylvania (1997), and he won seven Florida Winter Nationals races.
In 2000, Kauffman – who was in the cockpit of the white, red and green Middleswarth Potato Chip No. 7 – shared the championship at the half-mile dirt Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway with Todd Shaffer. Iinterestingly enough, this was the last year that 410-cubic-inch winged Sprint Cars were a regular attraction at the track – a place where he recorded 12 feature victories.
The winner of a dozen races at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, Kauffman has frequently ventured away from his Pennsylvania Winged 410 Sprint Car base and scored 24 wins with the All-Star Circuit of Champions and eight with the World of Outlaws.
Kauffman also made 10 United States Auto Club Championship Dirt Car starts in 1982 and on September 11 he started and finished fifth in the Hoosier Hundred – the series’ biggest event – on the one-mile dirt track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis and was named “Rookie of the Race.” Then, on December 4 at the old one-mile dirt Nazareth National (Pa.) Motor Speedway, he had one of the most interesting experiences of his long career.
Due to a variety of circumstances, the 30 drivers entered in the Nazareth 100 randomly drew for starting their positions and Kauffman made the best of his third-placed start by quickly taking the lead in his No. 58 Radio Hospital entry out of Findlay, Ohio. Now in command, he then held the point for all 54 laps of a race that was halted due to darkness and that victory helped him to be named USAC Championship Dirt Car “Rookie of the Year.”
As most Sprint Car drivers reach their mid-50s they are more apt to be spectators at the track rather than front-running racers. But age is just a number to Keith Kauffman as in 2010 he raced John Trone’s Kinard Trucking-sponsored red and white No. 39, and in 2011 he was in the cockpit of Gary and Linda Heckman’s Heckman Tree Farm red No. 8H.