by Tommy Goudge (February
8, 2013) – Drivers and teams from Ohsweken Speedway are hard at work getting ready for the 2013 racing season, which is now less than 4 months away. Chris Steele took a break from those preparations to reflect on his 2012 Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Car championship, and look ahead to 2013.
Steele’s 2012 Sprint Car championship came in just his third season competing in the division. The 25 year old driver also won the first two Sprint Car features of his career in 2012, while also competing in selected 358 Modified events at other area tracks. This season, he will try to become the first repeat Sprint Car champion at Ohsweken since the division began weekly competition in 2008.
CHRIS STEELE - FAST FACTS
Birthdate: December 25, 1987
Hometown: Fenwick, Ontario
Occupation: Dental Technician
TG: “What is the origin of your #80?”
CS: “Really there isn’t much meaning behind the number. In my go-karting days my number was 60. When I moved up to Mod Lites, the car we bought came with the number 100 on it. To save on decal costs, we kept the graphics and number on it. I wasn’t too keen on 100, so the following year I switched to 80, half way between 60 and 100.”
TG: “You are the fifth different champion in the five seasons of weekly Sprint Car racing began at Ohsweken. Why do you think we haven’t seen a repeat champion, and what will you need to do to become the first one?”
CS: “It seems that every year the previous year’s champion always has a string of bad luck. Hopefully I can break that trend, and be the first two-time Ohsweken Sprint Car champion. Staying out of the wrecks and being consistent are a must if I want any chance at being the first repeat champion.”
TG: “We hear a lot of clichés in the sports world about ‘learning what it takes’ to win, and become a champion. What did you learn about yourself and your team last season?”
CS: “One thing I learnt about myself last year was that I still have a lot more to learn about Sprint Car racing. I am, however, surrounded by a great group of friends who happen to also be my competitors. Without their help I would not be where I am today, and I am greatly appreciative of everything, even though we were all involved in an intense championship battle.”
TG: “Many drivers in your area are excited about the 358 Modifieds coming back to Ohsweken in July. Will you try to do double duty in both the Modified and Sprint Car that night, and if so, how will you have to adjust your driving style?”
CS: “Everyone is very excited about the addition of not only the Modified show, but the Sportsman show as well. I have yet to talk to Pete Cosco - my Modified car owner - about racing at Ohsweken. If he wants to bring the car I will certainly race it. The Modified takes a lot more finesse with the gas and brake pedal to keep the wheels underneath you at all times, whereas the Sprint Car is more ‘balls to the wall’.”
TG: “The Sprint Car championship at Ohsweken came down to the last lap of the last feature in 2012. What were you thinking about while you and Glenn Styres were racing wheel-to-wheel for the title?”
CS: “To be honest I was quite shocked that I was able to catch Glenn and actually pass him. He was super fast last year, and hard to keep up with. After I got by him, it seemed like the race was never going to end. I could see Dain (Naida) right in front of me, but getting by him didn’t seem like a priority at the time. I was so happy to see those checkered flags.”
TG: "If money were no object and you could race anywhere, what would you choose?"
CS: “To be honest I most likely wouldn’t change a thing. Maybe I would travel some more, but for the most part I am happy with what we have in this area.”
TG: "What is something most fans wouldn't know about you?"
CS: “Most fans probably wouldn’t know that I make teeth for a living. My parents own Niagara Dental Arts in St. Catharines, and provide service to many dentists in the Niagara Region.”
TG: “You have always been fast at Ohsweken. What is it about the track that suits your style?”
CS: “I don’t know if it’s the track that suits my style, or if it is just the raciness of the track that makes me fast. I think my previous experience with the Modified has really helped me in the Sprint Car. Modified racing teaches you to search the race track from top to bottom to find the most grip. Because Ohsweken is so wide, there is a lot of track to work with, and room to find the best grip possible.”
TG: "Which activities and hobbies occupy your time away from the track?"
CS: “Unfortunately I do work a lot to pay for this addiction called racing, but when I’m not working I can usually be seen with my girlfriend Sami - Movies, traveling, friends...the usual things boyfriends and girlfriends do.”
TG: “You’re one of many younger drivers in the Sprint Car division at Ohsweken. Why do you think there are so many of them, and what do you think it means for the future of the division?”
CS: “Maybe it has to do with how desirable Sprint Cars are to drive? Who wouldn’t want to drive a Sprint Car? I think the future looks good for the division. The younger guys will most likely be around for a long time, which will strengthen the division and Sprint Car racing as a whole.”
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About Ohsweken Speedway: Founded in 1996, Ohsweken Speedway is a 3/8 (0.375) mile clay oval owned by the Styres family, and located in the village of Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada. Ohsweken's weekly racing program runs from May to September, featuring Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Cars, Thunder Stocks, HRW Automotive Mini Stocks, and Bombers, while the season finishes each year with the annual Canadian Sprint Car Nationals. Ohsweken Speedway has also been a yearly stop on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series schedule since 2007.
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