Racer, team owner/manager, racing instructor and author Kas Kastner passed away April 11 at the age of 92.
His career in the automotive industry spans more than half a century, encompassing team management of Formula 5000, Can Am and Indy car teams for independent companies that included Kastner-Brophy Racing, as well as Roy Woods Racing.
Well known in the vintage racing community — especially among the Triumph faithful — Kastner started the USA Triumph Competition Department for the Triumph factory in the early 1960s, and became legendary for his pursuit of power increases for the Triumph cars with long experience in engine dynamometer testing.
After receiving numerous requests at that time for information about preparing Triumph cars, Kastner wrote a series of preparation manuals, organized according to model, distributed by the Triumph factory during the 1960-1972 era of production car racing. The manuals are still looked upon as the “must read” for any enthusiast preparing a Triumph for competition. He was also involved in the design, manufacturing and sale of performance components.
The annual Kastner Cup vintage race event, hosted by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) and the Friends of Triumph, includes an award presented to a Triumph competitor based on criteria set by Kastner when he and Joe Alexander established the event in 2003.
“Kas and I were co-founders,” Alexander said. “I proposed the series to him after the 2002 50th Anniversary of Triumph in Competition event at Mid-Ohio. He thought it was a great idea, and the rest is history. Although we worked with various chair people over the years, Kas and I were always the producers. It will be my honor to stand in his place at Portland in selecting the next Kastner Cup Recipient and act as Grand Marshal.”
Three elements go into selecting the recipient: a driver’s competitive results on track, car presentation and attitude and interest in vintage racing. This year’s event is July 23-25 at Portland International Raceway.
Alexander said Kastner requested a couple of weeks ago that they meet.
“We continued to have business and project plans that needed to be addressed,” Alexander said. “More importantly, we knew it was time to say goodbye.
“Last week we spent three intense days going through a life time of memories,” he continued. “In 19 years, we never had much time when at the track to discuss things on a personal level while we were putting on the Kastner Cup Series. That all changed last week. What a remarkable life.”
Kastner also served as Motorsports National Manager for Nissan of North America from 1986 through 1990 before becoming Vice President of Operations for Nissan’s new research and development facility in Vista, California.
In that role, he and his team were responsible for the design, development, construction and racing of the Nissan prototype cars in the International Motorsports Association (IMSA) series of road racing events. During this period, he led the team of Nissan Prototype cars to four consecutive Drivers Championships for Geoff Brabham and three consecutive Manufacturers championships for Nissan.
Information about services or memorials is forthcoming.
Our RACER colleague Marshall Pruett also wrote a story remembering Kastner which can be found here.