BENTONVILLE — A soft cast stretched from Daniel Kinard’s right hand to his elbow.
The 16-year-old Bentonville High student is a thrill-seeker who walked away from football to focus on a sport many would consider insane — motorcycle road racing — where competitors race street-type bikes at speeds of more than 180 miles per hour.
SCHOOL Bentonville High
NOTABLE Races street motorcycles in the Central Motorcycle Racing Association. … Started riding motorcycles at the age of three. … Rides a Kawasaki Ninja 300. … Presented with the Mark Sneed Go Racing Award last fall.
April 6-8^Cresson, Texas
May 18-20^Hallett, Okla.
June 15-17^Angleton, Texas
July 27-29^Cresson, Texas
Aug. 17-19^Cresson Texas
Sept. 14-16^Hallett, Okla.
Oct. 5-7^Avondale, La.
Oct. 26-28^Angleton, Texas
Although competitors are as well-protected as they can be with heavy leather boots, a full leather racing suit, helmets and gloves, broken bones come with the territory.
Except in Kinard’s case.
“I hurt it in my driveway just fooling around with my friends and I flipped over the handlebars of my BMX bike,” Daniel said. “I fractured it. The doctor said I’d be out 6-8 weeks.”
His father, Danny Kinard, could only shake his head and laugh.
Daniel Kinard has been racing motorcycles since the age of 5, learning from his dad, who is also a motorcycle racer. Daniel started riding motorcycles at the age of 3, and his dad saw early that his son had the daredevil factor it takes to race.
“I’ve got pictures of him when we were living in Bella Vista,” Danny Kinard said. “We’d go into a parking lot and set up cones. He was on an electric motorcycle and we’d have people actually stop by and watch him.”
Daniel Kinard moved from parking lot obstacle course racing to full-on competitive racing by the age of 5. He quit racing for a time and turned to football, but about two years ago he got the racing bug again and decided to focus his full attention on that.
“I was burned out on football because I had played it so much,” Daniel Kinard said. “I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. I always wanted to race.”
Both agreed that the time and financial commitment to motorcycle racing are considerable. Danny Kinard estimates that the family spends around $25,000 per year to cover the cost of a bike, equipment and travel. Rainbow Cycle and Marine in Rogers is Daniel Kinard’s primary sponsor and provides things such as a large trailer that not only transports Daniel’s bike and equipment but also is their weekend home as they sleep in the trailer.
Before making the leap into racing, Danny Kinard had to make sure that his son was totally committed to the sport.
“He’d been wanting to get back into it and I told him we’re not getting back into this unless you’re really hungry,” Danny Kinard said. “Because it is a lot of money.”
Daniel Kinard helps cover the cost of his racing with an after-school job, helping his father, who also owns a construction company. He does clean-up and odd jobs for the company.
He competes in the Central Motorcycle Racing Association league. Because the races are road races, there are not a lot of tracks in the region, so most races are in Texas, Oklahoma and New Orleans.
A typical weekend sees the Kinards head to the race location Thursday evening. Daniel Kinard will have multiple practice sessions on Friday to test and tune his bike. Races are Saturday and Sunday. The CMRA league has races once a month. Even practices are time-consuming as the Kinards have to travel to Tulsa to find a track to practice on.
“We like this because it’s a father and son thing,” Danny Kinard said. “I was racing when he was little and he grew up with it. It just seemed to be something we could do together.”
Daniel Kinard rides a Kawasaki Ninja 300 bike that has been extremely modified for road racing, his father said, adding that by the time the bike is finished they have about $10,000 invested in it.
“We pretty much take it down to the frame,” Danny Kinard said. “So all the suspension is different, the bodywork is completely different. There’s some motor work done to it. The only thing that’s really stock is the frame.”
Last fall, Daniel Kinard was awarded the “Mark Sneed Go Racing Award” at the CMRA banquet in Dallas. The award is named for a former racer who died in a house fire and is given to an up-and-coming racer to help with the cost of expenses.
Daniel Kinard hopes to have his cast off and be back on the track by the April CMRA race in Texas. Although he had a crash last year in Tulsa where his bike slid out from under him at around 80 mph, he doesn’t let that bother him.
“I just find it to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I don’t really think it’s that scary. It’s only scary when things start moving around. We’re protected, so I don’t worry about that.”
He may need to suit up for his driveway BMX tricks.