Mickey Kempgens competes regularly with the BG Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series, racing winged pavement 360 sprint cars throughout the state of Florida.
Kempgens has found considerable success with the series that was founded just prior to the 2016 racing season. To date, Kempgens has four career SSSS feature victories and over 30 total pavement sprint car feature victories in the Sunshine State.
Kempgens would probably be a SSSS series champion by now if he had elected to put his full effort toward the championship chase. However, he has never focused on chasing championships in his sprint car career; a career that started in 2008.
Kempgens has made the decision to put his primary focus on his family and vinyl graphics business, Team MK Graphics, as the SSSS schedule is very demanding. The season begins in January and concludes in early December.
But when he straps into a sprint car, Kempgens is as focused on the task at hand as any other racer.
DOB: – December 6, 1981
HOMETOWN: – Tampa, Florida
SERIES: – Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series
SPONSORS: – PCS Racing, Team MK Graphics, Hurricane Race Cars
Kempgens’ introduction to racing occurred when he was 12 years old, after a casual conversation with his father, Ted.
“Dad asked me if I wanted to go race. I said, ‘Sure, why not,’ and he bought a quarter-midget” explained Kempgens. “I went out first race and set a new track record, started last and won it, was protested, and later found legal all in the same night.”
The seed was planted after that first outing and he was hooked.
Kempgens would continue to run quarter-midgets until he was 13. His father had started the Fast Truck series in Florida and had rental trucks. He got his chance to drive one of those full-sized trucks at the tender age of 13 when a renter failed to show.
“We were at New Smyrna Speedway for Speedweeks and he said, ‘Hey go jump in that truck,’ and I jumped in it. I started 24th and finished sixth or seventh that night, my first night in a truck.”
College would see Kempgens’ racing efforts scaled back and shift in different directions for a short spell. After graduating he tried late models, road racing and modifieds. While racing modifieds, he was introduced to sprint cars thanks to a good friend and fellow racer.
“While I was running modifieds, I was crew chief for Ray Bragg on his sprint car. One night he couldn’t make it and they put me in the car. From that point on, I’ve been hooked on sprint cars.”
By 2010, Kempgens was racing sprint cars full time and finding success. He won his first feature with the Central Florida Wingless Sprint Series at Citrus County Speedway and went on to claim the series championship that season for legendary Florida car owner George Rudolph in the famed purple No. 68.
Rudolph has played an instrumental part of Kempgens career thus far.
“I started winning a lot when I started driving for George (Rudolph),” Kempgens noted. “He asked me to drive for him when his regular driver, Troy DeCaire, couldn’t make it. The day he asked me to drive I ended up winning the race and went on to win three or four more non-wing races that season. I also got my first winged win with George at DeSoto Speedway that year.
“George has literally been one of the best influences in my sprint car career. He is a wealth of knowledge. He is really one of the smartest men I’ve ever met in sprint car racing.”
When Kempgens looks back at his racing career thus far, he admits it’s far from over. He has a goal he has yet to accomplish.
“I want to win the Little 500,” Kempgens noted matter-of-factly. “If I could run one race a year and it was the Little 500, I would really be happy. I really, really, really, wanna win that race.”
Statistics show that the odds of a future Little 500 win may be in the works.
To date, Kempgens has six career Little 500 starts, with two top-five finishes in that time.
Kempgens feels car owner Doug Kinney and chief mechanic George Rudolph have given him everything he needs to be successful at the Little 500 and, with a little luck, he may achieve his goal.