Regardless of whether one is a professional wrestling fan, they are likely familiar with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as one of the most iconic names in WWF/WWE history and even for his work outside of the ring. He added another chapter to the latter on Saturday when he made his desert racing début in the Valley Off Road Racing Association‘s Prospector 250 in Yerington, Nevada.
Racing a Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000 appropriately numbered #316 with Shane Kisman as co-driver, Austin finished seventh in the eight-car Sportsman UTV class with a total time of four hour, forty-eight minutes, fifty-four seconds. Class winner Bennett Thuener was slightly over an hour ahead at 3:47:15.
Austin was the last in his category to complete all four laps (the professional classes did six versus two fewer for Sportsman entries), overcoming an early rollover in which he flipped onto the driver’s side just eight miles into the race before support crews got him back on his wheels.
“About a couple laps in, I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m just trying to finish the race. Don’t beat yourself.’ That was what I was thinking,” said Austin after the race. “I got to thank Shane and the guys for putting me in the car. They did a heck of a job. It’s my first ever race I’ve ever run and I had an absolute blast.”
The effort was prepared by Kisman and Class 1 Motorsports run by Daniel Keyes; Kisman’s son Zachary won in the Pro UTV Normally Aspirated class. While Austin has driven a UTV recreationally, the race marked his first time doing so in a competitive environment.
“I got squirrelly a couple times and was able to maintain my composure after that first rollover,” he continued. “I told [Shane], I said, ‘I might roll this thing again but I’m not going to roll it right here again,’ and I proceeded with caution every time I went through there. It was amazing. Shane was telling me before I started doing racing a lot of these guys drop out because breakdowns and things happen. I thought I put us out of the race six to eight miles in. It really is amazing, the strategy, the guys here in the pit working with the crew, this is an amazing thing to watch.”
“I had the time of my life to get a chance and run, watch, test paint, do whatever, I highly recommend it because I had the time of my life.”
Now inducted into the off-road racing community, Austin was more than open to doing it again, quipping that even “if I could go out there to ride a tricycle, I’ll be back.”
“I always thought back in my competitive days when I played football, baseball, when I got into wrestling, ‘Hey man, are these drivers really athletes?’, because they’re driving a car, in this case a buggy,” he continued. “Yes. These guys are grade-A, A+ athletes. Make no mistake about it. Just the time and precision that some of these guys are driving, the physical and mental part, there’s a couple of times where I just got out of it mentally and I got off course and I got a little cattywampus. If you take your focus off, if you let your guard down one split second, you can get in real big trouble, and I got in trouble a couple times. I got another load of respect for these guys who drive these buggies and everybody who maintains it.
“I’ve been riding Side-by-Sides in recreation for a long time. To come out here and do this, these guys and gals who drive are awesome.”
Crossovers between pro wrestling and motorsport are surprisingly plentiful, especially for NASCAR at the apex of its popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s. “Hardcore” Bob Holly, whose first WWF persona “Spark Plug” was a NASCAR driver-turned-wrestler, raced stock cars himself at Mobile International Speedway and won the 1993 track championship. Vice versa, Hermie Sadler is a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series race winner who also starred in TNA. In the off-world realm, former WWE wrestler and UFC champion Cain Velasquez competed at the Mint 400 in March.