Newman head groundskeeper combines drag racing, photography

Sep 03, 2020

One of the things people find at Newman University is a variety of interests and special hobbies among students, faculty and staff.

Though many may know Darrin McKim as the university’s head groundskeeper, they may not know he was previously seen on several tracks racing his ’69 Camaro.

It all began when he was just 9 years old.

“My granddad was a racecar driver and my dad was a flagman. I didn’t get a chance to race like my grandpa, (but) I got into drag racing. My racing was on a quarter-mile drag strip and grandpa’s was a dirt track.”

His grandpa was an accomplished racer having been presented with some incredible opportunities.

Robert McKim, Darrin McKim’s grandfather.

“My grandfather carried over to Big Car racing, and the next step from Big Car was an Indianapolis 500. He had an opportunity to drive out in Oklahoma (for an Indianapolis 500), but at the time he had a big family, so he had to take some time to think about whether he wanted to do that.”

Aside from the opportunity to race in an Indianapolis 500, McKim’s grandfather participated in many smaller events.

“He made his own history driving stalk cars back in the late ’40s in Abilene, Kansas. At that time, he had an old mobile and drove to the racetrack with some family, dropped them off at the grandstand, then fixed the car up and drove everyone home in it that same evening.”

Carrying on his grandfather’s legacy, McKim went on to race at tracks in Great Bend, Manhattan and even the Kansas International Dragway.

Now a retired racer, McKim picked up photography as a means of capturing the excitement of racing off the track. He also takes his daughter along, as she has a shared interest in the family hobby.

Photo of McKim’s daughter blended with photo of her great grandfather.

“Nowadays I do a lot of photography stuff for 81 Speedway here in town and Belleville. My oldest daughter and I take a vacation to Belleville at the end of July, where they have a big half-mile race track. That’s where my daughter’s great-grandpa is in the hall of fame. I got her hooked on some family history, and now she’s a race fan too. We actually used a sprint car for my daughter’s senior pictures.”

McKim said he has met some great people in his 23 years at Newman and he loves the campus as well as the friendly atmosphere.

While he continues working to maintain the beautiful landscape of Newman, it’s possible his daughter will become the next of the McKim racers.