Catching Up With Former NOSA Sprint Champion Kevin Jopp
More than two decades after his driving career ended, Kevin Jopp still has the urge to race.
“I would crawl in one today fit I could,” he said. “If I couldn’t do it justice, I would have the common sense to get out.”
A retired mechanic living in Grafton, N.D., Jopp raced for 20 years, mainly out of the Stephen, Minn., and Grand Forks areas. Jopp was the 1996 NOSA Sprint champion, and was inducted into the River Cities Speedway Hall of Fame in 2012.
It was the winning purse from a demolition derby that opened the door for buying a race car for Jopp. He started out in the street stock class before moving into the late models.
He raced nine years in the late model, but his goal was to eventually race a sprint car.
“I wanted to do that when I first got into racing,” Jopp said.
He spent a decade in the sprint cars, He was the 1996 NOSA Sprint series champion and had five wins in the series overall before retiring.
“It was fast. I like to go fast,” Jopp said. “It was a different car, but it fit my driving style. The sprint car (tracks) were super tacky. You had to pitch them in the corner.”
Kevin Jopp was inducted into the River Cities Speedway Hall of Fame in 2012. His brother, Roger, who served as his crew chief, was also inducted into the RCS Hall of Fame. He credits his brother and Steve Nyberg for their work on his race cars.
During his racing days, Jopp didn’t mind lending a helping hand to fellow drivers.
“If somebody had problems I’d help them,” Jopp said.
And that’s perhaps what Jopp misses the most about racing — the camaraderie.
“It’s the people, the competition,” Jopp said. “There wasn’t too much fighting, and I liked that. You could rub a little bit and sit down and talk afterwards. That’s what I miss about it — people remember you and it’s just incredible.”