Born on April 28, 1896 in New Holland, Ohio, McKinley Kirk was a successful farmer, livestock dealer, salesman, and banker and one of the sport's all-time leading drivers. He bought his first horse when he was forty-four and began his driving career in 1944 at the age of forty-eight. During his driving career, Kirk prepared and drove four world champions - Hodgen, Floating Dream, Pleasant Surprise,and Flaming Arrow. He owned or shared in the ownership of all the horses he drove. Kirk also became a track official, vice president and general manager at Grandview Raceway and a director for the Little Brown Jug Society. When he retired from his post on the Board of Directors of the USTA, he had served eight consecutive three-year terms. Kirk's chief fame may be as a Standardbred breeder. Recognizing the greatness of the 1974 Immortal pacer Belle Mahone and her daughters, he bought the old mare and began breeding her offspring to top stallions. Kirk helped establish the Belle Mahone Family which today boasts thirty-two horses in the 2:00 list. Although McKinley Kirk never drove more than 228 times in a season, his UDRS percentages were that of a professional. He'd been over .400 eight times and showed .532 in 134 starts in 1952. In 1961 his 91 outings produced a .607 percentage. With such results, his opponents never called him an "amateur." Kirk died on April 15, 1978.
Published in the Harness Racing Museum's 1998 Souvenir Journal