Ask Jeremy Huish to name his favorite race car driver and he won’t say Dale Earnhardt or Steve Kinser or Richard Petty.
It’s Steve King and for Huish and it was more than just a relationship between one of southwest Kansas’ most successful drivers and a fan.
Whenever King raced at his home track at Jetmore Motorplex, the young Huish would tell his favorite driver about conditions on the track. Huish would then go down to the pit area after the races and would talk to King; not about getting an autograph, but about why he made moves during his race. King would always take the time to discuss those moves with Huish.
“I’d spend all night with him,” Huish said. “We were real close. He would tell me everything with the car. I didn’t understand it then, but he’d still tell me.”
Steve King didn’t have any children when he passed away so the relationship between him and Huish was almost like a ‘father-son’ relationship with racing as a background. Huish said he thought of King not only as a teacher when it came to racing; but also as his second dad.
“He took me under his wing like I was his kid,” Huish said. “He got down on his knee and looked me ‘eye-to-eye’ to tell me stuff. He gave me anything he could.”
Ron Huish, Jeremy’s father, said the family knew his son was interested in being a race car driver and honored that King took an interest in Jeremy like a father would his son.
“It was incredible to have someone that was that well respected, such a part of the community and a inspirational race car driver to adopt my son and take him under his wing means so much to us,” said Ron Huish. “Every boy looks up to his father; but to have someone who your son looks up to and to have your son look up to someone that revered to take an interest in my son was a gift from God.”
One of the saddest days for the Huishs and the entire Jetmore community came on Aug. 10, 2006, when King died from injuries in a wreck during a sprint race at the famed Knoxville Nationals in Iowa.
“It was pretty hard,” Jeremy Huish said. “We hadn’t started racing quite yet and he never saw me race in a go-cart. That was a pretty hard time.”
Huish knew what number to put on his cars when asked by his parents as he would start his go-kart career: ‘88J’ in honor of King with his first name initial as an addition. Huish’s parents went to the King family — who had retired the number — to see if they would mind if their son could use their number.
It was a easy decision for the King family.
They allowed Huish to have the 88J for his go-carts; and then gave permission to allow the driver to have the number when he moved up to 305 sprint racing despite retiring the number after Steve’s death.
“I knew Steven was Jeremy’s idol,” said Danny King, Steve’s father. “I retired the orange paint, the flames and the number. It was an honor that they wanted to remember Steve this way.”
Jeremy Huish has had a few scares during his short career in a sprint car including being uninjured after a rollover that had his ride turn over four times. Huish said he felt King’s presence in the car during the wreck.
“He is definitely in the car with me,” Huish said. “There have been times when crazy (things) have happened to me and I feel he’s in there trying to help me and pull me through things that happen. He and God are in there with me.”