Starting his racing career at the young age of 15 years old, Brian imediately fell in love with R/C Racing. Throughout the late 1980’s, Brian raced as a local in the southern California area, racing at some of the most famous race tracks including RCHR in Newport Beach, CA. As a young racer, Brian began getting the respect of the best drivers in the industry including Team Associated’s Cliff Lett and the iconic Mike Reedy. Brian was taken in to the Team Associated family as a travel team racer where he made his presence known at events such as the Reedy Race of Champions, Florida Winter Championships and ROAR Off-Road Nationals.
Kinwald started to gain worldwide exposure in the early 90’s, finishing 2nd at the 1991 ROAR Modified Off-Road Nationals. From that point forward, Brian was a national threat winning just about everything on the West Coast and then his first ROAR Off-Road National Championship in the 2wd modified class at the 1992 event in Dallas, TX. Brian peaked for Team Associated in 1993 during the IFMAR World Championships in Basildon, England, where he won the 2wd class ahead of the legendary Joel Johnson, Craig Drescher and Masami Hirosaka.
For the 1994 season, Brian sent shockwaves throughout the R/C industry when he signed on to become the flagship driver for Team Losi and Trinity. Brian continued winning with the new combination and set a new standard for practice, vehicle setup and tire preparation while he helped the Team Losi XX buggy become one of the most succuessful vehicles on the track. Brian honed his skills as a tire builder often beating everyone to the punch with the best tire combination giving himself the reputation as the tire prep king. Throughout the 90’s, Brian kept on winning, adding 7 more ROAR National Championships in the 2wd modified class to his healthy resume as well as winning the first IFMAR World Championship for Team Losi in 1997 at the Ranch Pit Shop in Pomona, CA. Taking on the nick name the “Dirtinator,” Brian was untouchable in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
During the 2000’s, Brian broaded his racing, competing in 1/8th off-road events where he won another ROAR National Championship. Brian was intrumental in developing the Team Losi touring car and helped bring another successfully tuned platform to market. Brian’s influence isn’t just as a builder or driver as he also mentored several drivers during the late 90’s and early 2000’s who became national sensations and have enjoyed successful career’s of their own, including Ryan Cavalieri. Brian is one of the rare drivers to have a tire named after him after his development work turned into what has become the famous BK Bar tire. After his retirement from Team Losi, Brian took on a driver and development role with XFactory where he helped tune the unique mid-motor vehicle that enjoyed amazing success in the European market which urged many other manufacturers to start building mid-motor vehicles of their own.
Brian’s career came full-circle, when in 2011, he signed an agreement with Team Associated to once again race for the company in which he started with and won his first IFMAR World Title. During the same season, Brian began racing for JConcepts, reuniting with friend and former teammate Jason Ruona, for whom he has known for over 20 years. Brian has enjoyed tremendous success with the Team Associated and JConcepts team where he is specialzing in 1/10th off-road once again. Brian has won numerous events on the Scotty Ernst produced Short Course Showdown Nationwide Tour and has dominated several events including the SIGP at Competition Hobbies in Tucson, Arizona.
Brian raced in a special event dedicated to his race name “Dirt,” a specially formatted race called the Dirt Invert. Brian continued to develop tires and build one-off projects for JConcepts and Team Associated as his day-to-day assignments while he preps his “one of a kind” meticiously prepared cars to represent JConcepts and Team Associated.
Brian Kinwald Retrospective by Jason Ruona
Dude, you are dialed, rest easy.
Easily the most dedicated driver and hobbyist I’ve known. It’s been tough to put in to words the impact Brian has had in the RC community. Just seeing the outreach and stories already posted are mind boggling of how many lives he impacted, stories he’s created or individuals he’s influenced.
I believe what I most respected about Brian was, he never treated RC Racing or the vehicles as toys or downplayed the importance of the results or event because it was not a 1:1 scale. To Brian, it was racing and it deserved the same amount of respect as any other form, and for that, I’m truly grateful. Often times, it’s “cool” to trivialize the hobby, sport or results because the size of the vehicle or that it could be compared to a toy or game. To Brian, the only game was when he declared it “game over” on the results sheet.
When you spoke to Brian about vehicle setup, tire performance or anything technical, you would quickly find out, it was very serious. Then, you would speak about the mental aspects, technique and fundamentals of driving or style, then you would realize this was someone who thought without limits and really had a grasp on what it took to be successful.
When I look back and think about it, the racers liked being around Brian because he was a winner. Everyone likes a winner but it doesn’t always translate over to those that follow. But, what was unique about BK’s relationships, he also elevated the drivers and people around him to be better drivers and mechanics. Through his work ethic and leading by example, he brought up so many amazing drivers in their own right.
This guy was so famous in RC, it’s hard to describe. I’ve traveled around with a lot of great racers and had amazing opportunities with many of them. However, when Kinwald showed up in his prime, there was nothing like it. All eyes were on Brian and what he was doing from the moment he arrived to the moment he left. His impact in those days, his entourage, his vehicles, his tires, tire prep, he was his own race team in a sense. It wasn’t so much you were competing against Team Losi, Team Trinity…etc, you really were competing against #teamkinwald
A walk down memory lane with BK –
1991 Wow, it’s Brian Kinwald on the scene in Savannah, Georgia. Damn, this dude is fast, he almost won 2wd mod at the ROAR Nationals. I remember he would stand all the way at the end of the drivers stand, in the place where a disabled driver or wheelchair access was because he could stick the antenna straight out without being hindered by the railings.
1992 ROAR Nationals, won the triple mains in the 2wd class. Ok, this guy is the real deal, he won with precision and a monster desire. We had an extremely long break because of a computer problem. He watched them work on the track during the break and made adjustments while the track was changing before our eyes. Look, the whoops section is almost gone, I’m changing something. I really developed a friendship with him here during this race.
Read more HERE.
Rest In Peace my friend. #teamkinwald