Kevin Berte – Driver


By Chad Meyer

Like many Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame inductees, 1986 proved to be a seminal moment for Whittemore, Iowa’s Kevin Berte. “I was never a racer before, but when the Algona track reopened in 1986, Bill Berte and others were building cars. It was something to do, so we built one, too. I suppose you’d call them Econo Stocks or Street Stocks. The track was desperate for cars, so they let almost anything race that year.”

Berte raced Street Stocks through 1988. “It seems to me that once they created two separate classes (Hobby Stocks and Street Stocks, with hobby stocks at the time being the upper racing division), we got going better,” Berte recalls, posting his first two-career feature wins that year.

Throughout early and mid-1990’s Berte became a force to be reckoned with in what became the IMCA Stock Car class. “1989 was when we built what I would call our first real race car. It was an Oldsmobile Cutlass, with an Olds motor. Everyone said we were nuts for doing that, but we made it work.”

Complete records for 1989 are hard to find, however, Berte went on win the season championship race at Algona that year before collecting his first of four track championships at the Kossuth County track.

Berte’s mastery of the Stock Car division at Algona and surrounding tracks started in 1991 and continued through 1994.

“In ’91 we started traveling more and we raced a lot. Our biggest win came that year, winning the [IMCA] Supernationals [at Boone Speedway]. It wasn’t as big as it is now, but we won our heat, qualifier and main event. We got lucky, though. I was leading the main and I started to take it too easy. I think it was Randy Havlik who passed me and I was second when he had trouble late. I was told he broke an axle and I was able to pass him back.”

Berte says that 1994 was his biggest year, in terms of feature wins. It came at a cost, though. “We won a lot, but it was all we could do to keep motors in the car [due to the engine claim]. We started the year with five motors ready, but that wasn’t near enough and it burned us out.”

That same year, Berte came up one spot shy of winning the IMCA Stock Car National Championship. “We ended up winning track titles at Algona, Fairmont and Alta. Had we set out to really win the national points, I think we could have done it. But we kept getting claimed.”

The 1994 national points came down to two events. The first was Berte finishing behind Bobby Greiner, Jr. at Belmond during their season championship event late in the year. The second was a race in late September in Kansas that sealed the title for Greiner. “We didn’t go that race. We were tired and felt it wasn’t worth the money it would take to race one more time.”


At the end of 1994, Berte told everyone he was finished. The demands of starting farming and a family didn’t leave much time for racing. “I said I was done, but one day that winter, Wayne Hansen called and said I’m buying you a modified. I told him no, but later felt that if he was willing to buy the car I’d give it a try.”

Berte raced that IMCA modified for a year and half, winning at Jackson (MN) their second night out. “We got second in points at Algona and won a couple races there in 1995.”

1996 brought Berte a chance to score his biggest modified win, but it wasn’t meant to be. “We finally had a good run at Britt during Night of 1000 Stars. We maybe had a chance at winning, and were passing cars.  But we ended up in a bad wreck and that was it. I told them it wasn’t worth fixing the car and I quite racing. I just didn’t have the time to do it anymore.”

Though his career ended at that point, Berte’s career stats are impressive. He won an estimated 96-career feature wins, including an unofficial count of 41 wins at Algona, ranking him seventh all-time there. Notable accomplishments at Algona include earning the 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994 stock car point titles. Berte won the 1991 and 1996 Kossuth County Fair races plus the 1991 and 1992 Gene Schattschneider Memorials and the 1992 NCAR Nationals. In 1994, Berte scored the first-ever MAC Tools Winner Series event, which was held in Algona.

Berte also won season point championships in 1992 and 1994 at Alta plus the 1994 title at Fairmont. He was the winner of the 1991 Fall Nationals at Fairmont. He was the stock car winner in the Hawkeye Challenge race at Boone in the early 1990’s. Berte also won multiple MAC Tools Series events for stock cars, including one at Alta in 1994. At Alta, he claimed the annual Dick Simpson Memorial in ’94 and he holds a Frostbuster win at Webster City.

Today, Berte continues to live and farm near Whittemore with his wife Tina.