A late arrival to the party compared to most, Mike McKinney didn’t climb behind the wheel until he was 18-years old, but quickly made up for lost time. From competing in street stocks on a weekly basis to battling for national championships in modifieds in just a handful of years, McKinney’s near immediate ascension was a marvelous journey that made the Illinois native one of the best modified racers in the country.
His career took off in 2011 as the then 18-year old McKinney went street stock racing and snagged five feature wins in his freshman campaign, good enough to finish third in LaSalle (IL) Speedway points and 21st overall in the UMP DIRTcar National Stock Car ranks. In 2012, McKinney came back with a burning passion for his newfound love and made some history on his way to collecting multiple championships.
He scored the UMP DIRTcar Stock Car National Championship, becoming the youngest driver in history to do so at the age of 19. Along the way, McKinney earned 18 main event wins and took the track title at LaSalle and won the UMP DIRTcar Stock Car Northern States title.
Taking the next step in 2013, McKinney went modified racing and enjoyed the challenges of a fresh start against new competition. He found victory lane once and earned Kankakee County (IL) Speedway Rookie of the Year honors, while also becoming the highest rookie in UMP DIRTcar Modified National points. A handful of victories came in 2014-15 before a breakthrough season in 2016 carved the path to even bigger successes in 2017-18.
With 17 main event victories in 2016, McKinney placed tenth in UMP DIRTcar Modified National points, won the UMP DIRTcar Northern Illinois championship, and earned track titles at Fairbury (IL) American Legion Speedway and Kankakee.
In 2017, another top ten finish in the UMP DIRTcar National points awaited McKinney, who ended his campaign with 12 victories. Most notably, he scored the American Modified Series win at Fairbury and broke through for his first-career UMP DIRTcar Modified Summer Nationals triumph at Kankakee.
The 2018 campaign marked the biggest and best season of McKinney’s eight-year career. He won 20 main events with strong performances in Crown Jewel events such as his second-place effort at the Gateway (MO) Dirt Nationals and third-place podium at the Mega 100 at Tyler County (WV) Speedway. His stellar year propelled him to a close second-place points finish in the UMP DIRTcar Modified National Championship chase. He also finished second in Summer Nationals points, due in large part to his surreal stretch of eight victories in the month-long tour.
Heading into 2019, McKinney will be taking a step back from full-time racing as the Bell Athlete becomes a Bell employee. Accepting the position of Racing & Technical Support Manager with Bell Racing, McKinney relocated to Indiana and serves as key component to the thriving success of Bell’s Indy Pro Shop in Speedway.