Kenneth Schrader’s motto on his website rings true for this Missouri native. Racing and winning races are indeed second nature to this loving father of two and husband to Ann Schrader. Schrader, born on May 29 in 1955 at Fenton, Missouri, is a second generation racer in his family. Schrader recalls fond memories of his father tying a cable from the three year old’s go-kart to a post in the backyard of their house while going round and round in circles. He was hooked on cars ever since. To Schrader, racing is all he knows and what he was born to do. In an interview, he exclaimed that he would race everyday if given the chance.
He started racing sprint cars in Missouri and much of the various racing venues in the Midwest during the early 70s. In 1980, he was given the chance to race in the USAC’s stock car division and snatched the Rookie of the Year title. He went on to win the USAC Silver Crown Championship in ’82 and took home the top spot in the USAC Sprint division the next year.
Schrader then was given his big break in NASCAR when he debuted in 1984 with Elmo Langley’s help. Although he qualified for the 27th spot, he came in at the 19th spot which motivated him to press forward. In 1985, he joined forces with Junie Donlavey and had three tenth-place finishes with a 16th spot finish in points and was also named Rookie of the Year. He finally won his first career pole in 1987 at the TranSouth 500. The same year, he made his debut at the Busch Series at the North Carolina Speedway with the fifth place firmly in his pocket.
In 1988, Schrader won his first pole during his first race in the Daytona 500 which marked the beginning of a 3 year winning run. Although Schrader failed to qualify for the next race, he bounced back by bringing home his first career race at the Talladega DieHard 500 and was in fifth place again at the end of it. After he won his second Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he was awarded his first Busch Series win at the Ames/Peak 200. Throughout 1990 to 1994, Schrader had a few speed bumps but was able to catch up with the pack. He grabbed his third win at the Motorcraft Quality Parts 500, a career best points in win in 1994 with fourth place and another Busch Series win at Talladega.
Schrader survived through a horrific crash in 1995 at the DieHard 500 in the Talladega Superspeedway. He recovered and went back in full force with a twelfth position win in 1996. He won his last Cup pole in Talladega in 1999 and went on to have five top-tens in 2001 although he descended to the 19th spot in standing. It was also the year that Schrader was involved in the infamous car crash that took Dale Earnhardt’s life. Schrader was not able to finish up in a top ten spot in 2002, something that was virtually impossible after his first debut in 1984. He was back on track in 2003 when he added five more top tens in his already impressive list of finishes.
With 20 years of racing in NASCAR’s races, Schrader still has the same zeal and passion as he did when he first started out. Schrader still rips the tracks apart given any free time and he does not seem like slowing down. Scharder’s involvement with his Schrader racing entries also proves that he is far from out of the game. He enjoys every moment racing and does not doubt that he’ll still have a hand in racing for as long as he can.