Thursday, May 12, 2016

Born to be a dirt racer

(NOTE: This story was written in 2008 for a short-lived publication, The Racing Journal.)

Steve Blackburn: Born to race
By Tom Gillispie
TRJ Editor
PINE HALL — Steve Blackburn remembers going to races as a boy and telling his dad that he wanted to race. His dad said he couldn't afford for Steve to go racing.
"My dad worked and had four kids beside myself," Blackburn said. "He said there were more important things.
So he didn't start racing until he got into go-karts at 18. He and wife Amy married then, and daughter Ashley was born when Blackburn was 20.
"I worked two jobs for six years to be able to race," he says.
His first real car was a modified four-cylinder Ford. He's been racing Super Late Models since '06.
He did miss a couple of seasons starting in 1999, he says, when he and Amy had twins Brandon and Jessica, who are now eight. Ashley will soon be 15.
Blackburn says Amy is totally behind his racing — "She supports me 110 percent," he said. Same with his sponsors and his car owners. Actually, car owners Don and Herbert Way were a belated blessing; he had lived near them in Greensboro growing up.
"Don and his dad (Herbert) own a construction business in Greensboro," Blackburn said. "His dad used to race years ago, then he got interested again."
But Herbert wasn't going to race.
"(Herbert) wanted to put me in the car to drive," Don Way added, "but I said, 'No, get Stevie to drive it.' "
So it's worked out for Blackburn and the Ways.
"We want to give his dad a special thanks for making it possible for us to race," Blackburn said.
Herbert Way wasn't at the track Saturday, and he missed some good racing.
Blackburn finished sixth in the first 25-lap Super Late Model race. In the second Super Late Model 25-lapper, he tried to pass for the lead on the outside, lost ground and fell back to fifth before rallying for the victory. In the Crate Late Model race, he was in a wreck and finished 18th.
His black Super Late Model car was brand-new, and it was just its second time at the track. So Blackburn was thrilled.
"Oh, yeah, it was a real good night," he said with a smile in his voice."
But not all nights are that great. Take opening night this year at 311.
"I had no power steering," he explained as he waited to qualify last Saturday. "I knew when we unloaded; we brought the wrong (power-steering) pump. When I wanted to turn left, it wanted to turn right."
Blackburn did pretty well that night, considering the handicap, so he had sore arms and another good story to tell.
He races a lot at 311 — he won two Late Model titles there — but he's also raced at Clary's Speedway in Brinkleyville, Oak Level Raceway (now Fork Mountain) and Wythe Raceway in Virginia, Fayetteville Motor Speedway, Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C., Wayne County Speedway in Pikeville, Thunder Valley (now Cleveland County Speedway) in Lawndale, Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, and The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway.
And he's had his adventures beyond racing with the wrong power-steering pump. He raced Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer last year, with Bowyer winning.
"I battled him for the win, but I dropped a cylinder," Blackburn said. "It just wouldn't go."
He also raced Sprint Cup drivers Carl Edwards — "I won that race," he said — and Casey Mears in '06; in fact, he loaned Mears his second uniform so he could race. Fortunately, they're the same size.
All in all, it's been a dream hobby for a guy who works during the day as a supervisor for a printing company in High Point. And he doesn't even have to work two jobs.
"I've been busy at it," he said. "It's a passion of mine."

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