Jun 30, 2014
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There may come a time when four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. turns over his Kansas Speedway pole awards to his grandchildren.

But for the foreseeable future, Hornaday isn't about to let go of his pedal cars, a unique pole award in motorsports.

"I've got them in my trophy room and I've got the flags and the trophies with them," said Hornaday, who has won three Kansas poles. "Maybe I'll let (the grandkids) have them when I'm done, but I like having them in the trophy room. They're completely different than the other awards. They're pretty neat trophies."

In fact, Hornady has his sights set on winning more.

"I need two more because I've got five grandkids and I'm going to have a race with them," he said.

Kansas Speedway officials have presented the pedal cars as pole awards for all events since the first race here in 2001.

But, former director of public relations Stann Tate said that the tradition started almost by accident.

"I remember it was right before the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race when we opened up and we didn't have a pole award," Tate said.

He remembered there were pedal cars on the property left from another project and quickly came up with an idea.

"I said, 'Let's grab one of those cars and we're going to give that out,'" Tate said. "We put stickers on it and we ended up giving the pedal car as a pole award."

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Ryan Newman captured the track's first pole, and the pedal cars almost immediately became a hit.

"Pole awards can be fun or they can be boring," Tate said. "I thought we needed to do something really fun that hopefully every time people see it, and, the driver thinks of it, they'll think of Kansas."

He thinks that goal has been achieved.

"It became really fun because every driver kept saying, 'I want to win the pole here because I want one of those cars,'" Tate said. "So many guys, whether it was the IZOD IndyCar Series or if it was NASCAR or it was ARCA they all got a really cool pedal car, and they all literally gleamed when they saw it. It was like a kid on Christmas.

"And, the question always was, 'Do I get to keep it?'"

Some of racing's biggest names have taken home the Kansas Speedway pedal cars, and, have found a variety of uses for their prize.

"We've been fortunate enough to win three poles at Kansas, and the pedal cars have been a big hit with my nieces and nephew," said Kasey Kahne. "They enjoy driving them around my shop and it's a lot of fun watching them have a good time with those."

Matt Kenseth agreed. "You like to try and collect any trophies that you can, but, certainly when there's a unique trophy like the pedal car Kansas Speedway gives you for winning the pole, it's really cool," Kenseth said. "Especially since I have two little girls. They like getting fun trophies like that and were eager to drive the car around."

Hornaday has taken a ride in the pedal car.

"The first two times I won it, I actually got in it and my wife pushed me across the garages to the hauler," he said. "There's some prestige there. I know (Kevin) Harvick's won one and he's got it up in his office. I've seen it up there.

"A lot of guys don't give them away. A lot of guys keep them because they're pretty cool."

Tate is proud of what the pedal=car tradition has become.

"I wanted people to think, 'I'm going to Kansas Speedway, that's where they give out those cool awards for the pole,'" he said. "It kind of created a little bit of history and a little bit of tradition. We had no tradition, being a brand new track, and we wanted something that just said Kansas Speedway - 'this is fun and kind of unique.'

"Guys really come out and embraced it, and felt like it was something they wanted to vie for instead of just wanting to be on the front row."