TOLEDO, Ohio (Dec. 5, 2017) -- Wausau, Wisconsin's Kevin Cywinski caught the racing bug early on. And like so many, he was introduced to the sport through his parents.
"My dad raced both snowmobiles and stock cars," said Cywinski. "He was probably a better snowmobile racer than a stock car driver; but I got that (racing) mainly from him. I watched him do a lot of snowmobile racing. And when I started racing, he spotted for me all my life, from my ASA days to when we were running Trucks (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series)."
Cywinski added that growing up watching the likes of Dick Trickle also influenced him early on. It didn't take long to learn that he wanted to give it a try. Cywinski was barely a teenager when he started racing stock cars.
"I started off at 14 years old. Started racing street stocks on dirt at Marshfield, Wis., Yellow River Speedway. I ran dirt for a couple years then we started running on the asphalt at State Park Speedway. Then we started racing all over the central Wisconsin area…raced the Central Wisconsin Racing Association…won the CWRA championship in '86. That was points between four tracks."
When Cywinski started making a name for himself across Wisconsin, more doors began to open.
"I got to know Gene Coleman of Coleman Racing Products. We were racing in the Red White & Blue racing series then he gave me the opportunity to run ARTGO full-time out of his shop."
Then another opportunity opened up when fellow Wisconsin racer Matt Kenseth went south to start his NASCAR career.
"Matt drove for Scott LaFavre in ASA. But when Robbie Reiser got hurt in a Busch car, Matt went straight to the Busch Series…that's how his NASCAR career got going. When Matt went south, I got the ride in LaFavre's ASA car. We won the Rookie of the Year in '96, then won the '97 championship. Then I moved south."
And that's where Cywinski hooked up with Wisconsin's Bob Brevak (1990 ARCA National Champion).
"I ran with Brevak in the Truck Series for a few years, then I moved back home."
Cywinski not only moved back home, he revived his ASA program, finishing second in national championship standings his first year back in 2000. Then after finishing 5th in 2001 and 3rd in 2002, Cywinski won back-to-back ASA championships in 2003 and 2004, joining only Mike Eddy, Mark Martin and Butch Miller in becoming the only drivers to win at least 3 ASA titles. During ASA's tenure (1974 - 2004), it was the most prestigious late model tour in the country. Other ASA champions include Rusty Wallace, Dick Trickle, Bob Senneker, Johnny Benson and Johnny Sauter.
As ASA ownership changed over its twilight years, Cywinski was looking for a change and started dabbling in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards in 2004. He began fielding ARCA cars for Country Joe Racing and driver Joey Miller. Toward the end of '04, Cywinski had a car ready for Miller to make his ARCA debut at Nashville Superspeedway in mid-August. Miller responded with a victory in his first start, leading the final 11 laps to win the 200-mile race. In 2005, Miller ran the full season for Cywinski, winning four more races at Berlin, Gateway, Nashville and Salem, and finishing second in championship standings behind Frank Kimmel.
Liking the results, Cywinski was ready to step up his ARCA program.
"I rented the shop (Country Joe Racing) for a few years, then I bought the team and decided to move south."
And the rest, as they say, is history. Cywinski set up his Win-Tron Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina and never looked back. And for the last 10-plus years he's been fielding top-notch equipment for several race winners including Blake Bjorklund (Salem 2006), James Buescher (Daytona 2009), Matt Merrell (Berlin 2011) and Brandon McReynolds (Talladega 2012). Cywinski also fielded the cars that Mason Mingus drove to a second-place championship finish in 2013, behind 10-time champion Kimmel.
Cywinski likes what he sees in regards to the direction the ARCA Racing Series is headed and admits the competition is more fierce than ever.
"I've been in this series pretty-much full-time since 2004 and this year is the strongest I've ever seen it, on a competition level…without a doubt. And from what I'm hearing, it's only going to get stronger. I'm excited. This new body…the new engine has really evened the playing field. For us old school drivers, it's great to be here and see what's going on. It makes it really fun."
Cywinski's Win-Tron Racing team finished 4th in national championship standings in 2017 with Bluffton, S.C.'s Gus Dean behind the wheel of the No. 32 GREE Cooling Products Toyota. Dean is expected to return with Cywinski's team full-time in 2018. Both Cywinski and Gus Dean will take the stage this weekend in the 65th annual ARCA championship awards banquet in Indianapolis Saturday night.
Cywinski lives with his wife Traci and two daughters, Cara, 16, and Marina, 14, in Mooresville.