Dave Steele already has a reputation for being a great driver – and it’s a reputation that’s well earned. The midget car driver already more wins than any other driver when it comes to USAC competitions held at the Phoenix International Raceway. Steele has as many as 8 PIR wins under his belt.
But that isn’t enough for Dave. Next Thursday he’ll be returning to the racetrack to compete in the 33rd ‘Copper World Classic’. He’ll be racing in both ends of the event, which will be presented by Fast Signs, and he’ll be hoping to increase his already amazing number of wins. Why does this Tampa, Florida, driver seem so unbeatable? According to Steele, it’s because he’s been around a long time. “I guess you could call me one of the oldtimers,” he commented in a recent interview, “I’ve raced there for 15 years now and it seems like I always have the best equipment, so that helps.” Apart from 15 years of midget car racing, Steele has also taken part in an Indy Racing League event and a NASCAR Nationwide practice session. The combination of skill, experience and good car parts seems to be an unbeatable one, and Dave Steele may well manage to improve on his existing record without too much difficulty. Steele already has five Silver Crown trophies and three Midget trophies. He has also won eight of the past 12 USAC races held at PIR and has set both the 1-lap track qualifying records.
When Steele takes to the Phoenix International Raceway in a few days time, he’ll be behind the steering wheel of car #91 in both the midget and Silver Crown races. In the midget race, he will be driving a Toyota/Oakley Beast Pink Toyota which has been entered by Nine Racing (Laguna Beach, California), while his Silver Crown car will be a West Coast Roofing/Classic Corvettes Beast/Speedway Engines car which has been entered by Bruce Nicholas. Steele remarked: “We just finished the Silver Crown car so this will be the first outing and we’re looking forward to that.” While some may feel that using an unproven car when setting out to win may not be the best idea, Dave Steele seems confident that his driving, his cars and his team members will all come out tops yet again.
Eighteen-year-old racing phenomenon Joey Logano is about to take one of the biggest steps of his career – racing in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series in the No. 20 Home Depot Camry as part of the Joe Gibbs Racing team. Logano is already quite used to racing with people who are much older than he is and he is looking forward to the challenge.
In a way the move is the climax of a dream he had when he was just a child. In 1997, at just seven years of age when he was dominating Quarter Midget races, Logano said that his dream was to one day race regularly against Jeff Gordon who was his favorite driver at the time. That dream will officially become a reality as of 2009.
Logano has come a long way since his early childhood days of racing. By the time he was just eight years of age, he was competing against kids that were sixteen and up in Quarter Midget racing. When he was 9, he set a new record by becoming the youngest driver to compete in Legends Car racing. As if that wasn’t enough, Logano went on to race professionally against adults and driving full-size Late Models by the time he was twelve. Then, at fifteen, he won his second USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. Shortly after that, Joe Gibbs Racing won the bidding war that allowed them to sign up the youngster with their team. They have since been grooming him for success and feel that he is now ready to tackle the Sprint Cup Series.
Since turning 18 in May earlier this year, Logano has been competing in NASCAR’s second tier Nationwide Series. The move has given him the perfect preparation to now join the Sprint Cup team. And the timing couldn’t be better: Tony Stewart in leaving Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season to become an owner/driver with Stewart-Haas Racing. The move provided an opening that Joey Logano will fill and the youngster is already looking forward to it. Commenting on the change, Logano said: “It’s a dream come true. I couldn’t really ask for anything better.” He also remarked that he was “cool with pressure” and felt that he could handle the increase in pressure that he was sure he would experience in his new role.
Hayward and San Leandro are certainly no strangers to the auto racing scene. This small corner of East Bay has been burning rubber on the racetrack for more than fifty years. While people continue to cram themselves into speedways around the country few people give much thought to the history of this legendary sport.
If you want to change this trend and learn more about the history of auto racing in the East Bay area, the Hayward Area Historical Society Museum is the perfect place to get yourself acquainted with the past. This museum, which is located in downtown Hayward, has just launched a ‘Start Your Engines‘ exhibit, which explores the auto racing history of the surrounding area. Few people today realize that auto racing was once king on the San Leandro flatlands and the Hayward Museum’s new exhibit recreates all the excitement of stock car, roadster, hardtop and midget racing in those early years of auto racing. While today this area is jam-packed with homes and businesses, between 1931 and 1955 it was the home of the Oakland Speedway (later the Oakland Stadium). Despite difficulties, the Speedway remained open during the Great Depression and it continued to carve a name for itself even after the AAA pulled out of the West Coast. In its day it was known as the “fastest dirt mile in the Nation”. This was the place where locals came to watch the biggest names in auto racing compete with locals for top titles and prizes. One of those big names was Tom Motter. Motter is now an auto racing historian who’s first hand experiences no doubt give his books an exciting edge. His books about Oakland Speedway and Oakland Stadium are currently on sale at the museum’s gift shop for those who would like some additional reading. The Oakland Speedway was finally replaced with the Oakland Stadium in 1946 after a grandstand fire and the fuel and rubber rations of WWII brought the old speedway to a close. The new track had a 5/8-mile paved oval combined with a quarter-mile oval and was every bit as popular as its predecessor.
Visitors to the museum are usually surprised to learn that the Bayfair Center shopping mall was once the location of the top auto racing stadium in the area. After the Oakland Stadium was torn down to make way for the shopping mall, youths between five and sixteen years of age continued to compete on quarter-midget tracks in Hayward for almost 30 years. Among them was the Rice family who are now famous for their quarter-midget racing cars. Many enthusiasts may feel saddened that very little of this once great legacy remains in Hayward, but a visit to the museum can certainly help to ease that feeling. A life-sized side-view cardboard cut-out of a 1915 Ford race car provides visitors with a great photographic opportunity and the museum’s shop has all the additional information and keepsakes you could want.
Berlin Raceway‘s 58th season is set to begin on Saturday night at the .438-mile oval race track, which is located in Marne, Michigan. Raceway officials are expecting this years racing season to be bigger and better than ever before, with drivers arriving from both local divisions and visiting traveling series, a corresponding car count increase and subsequently more fans making their way to see all the great racing action from the stands. Already all five of Berlin’s local racing divisions are jam-packed with competitors and the resulting action should be great.
The Berlin Raceway has already received a record turn-out of 91 cars for the first test-n-tune of the season, which took place last Saturday. The practise run enabled drivers to run their cars on the track for the four-hour open practise session to enable them to make any necessary adjustments before the season gets underway. A second and final test-n-tune took place on Thursday and the track will officially open for the season on Saturday, April 12.
There will be plenty of action this season with the De-Jay Slick Truck Pro Stock, the top-level Coors Light Late Model, the Engine Pro Super Stock and the Instant Cash Advance Sportsman divisions of the racing series. And that is just for the first week! The second week, starting April 19, will feature the all-new Burnips Equipment 4-Cylinder division – a much cheaper division that will allow even more promising rookies to take to the speedway. However, the main events that everyone is looking forward to are the ASA Series, the ARCA Series, “The Chet”, the Boyne at Berlin and the Open-Wheel Extravaganza. The Open-Wheel Extravaganza will include Auto Value Super Sprints, ISMA Supermodiefies and a triple sanctioned midget event. Other races include the Short Track Trucks, the Wolverine Outlaw Midget Series, the Vintage Racing Organization of America and the open-wheel Auto Value Super Sprints.
There will also be plenty of family-friendly fun in the form of fireworks, free kids nights, school bus races, food and drink specials, trash can bowling, the faster pastor race and number of amateur races. Fans from fourteen years of age and up will be allowed to enter the pits on race days this year, so youths will be able to enjoy a special treat. Why not book your ticket now to make sure that you don’t miss out on this spectacular four-week racing extravaganza? Tickets are on sale now and can be bought online or at the raceway, as well as at the Fifth Third Ballpark box office.
If you are a racing fan you likely already know all about midget car racing. Many racing car drivers start out their professional careers with midget cars or at least quarter midget cars and this form of race car driving can be exciting. Of course, it does not quite have the sponsorship or coverage of NASCAR or F1 events, but it certainly does have a large following of fans and racers of all ages.
Midget cars can basically be described as small racecars with four-cylinder engines that weigh only about 1000 pounds and which are capable of reaching high speeds despite their size and the weight they carry. They are not specifically used by midgets but rather are used by average-sized drivers despite the vehicle’s size and weight. Midget cars are fully equipped with roll cages and other safety features since their size and speed can result in dangerous accidents. They are raced over relatively short distances and are often used in indoor arenas and there are a number of spectacular annual midget car racing events which are held all over America. Often racers from other forms of racing participate in midget car racing events for entertainment and recreational purposes.
In a similar vein, Quarter Midget racing is also very popular. Roughly ¼ of the size of a full size midget racecar, this form of racing is restricted to youths since it would be difficult if not impossible for a full-grown adult to fit inside such a vehicle – unless, perhaps, they were a midget. Drivers are aged between five and sixteen and these aspiring race car drivers usually race on small banked ovals. They may race on dirt, asphalt or concrete and there are relatively few quarter midget racing tracks in America. Between eleven and eighteen years of age, a driver may choose to drive a half midget which is about half the size of a midget car. Half midgets have a single cylinder engine which can be as big as 250cc in size and may also compete in a variety of events.
For youngsters, racing midget cars is a great way to get into the sport of auto racing. For skilled drivers, midget cars are the best way to unwind and have fun on the weekends. For fans, midget car racing is plenty of fun. No matter which way you look at it, midget car racing is a great way to spend a weekend.