After a solid rookie season in OSCAAR Pro Sprint competition, Steve Belfry is one of the drivers returning to the division in 2018.
“I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel soon,” he said. “I really enjoyed racing in my first season last year. I tried to race everyone clean, stay out of trouble and be consistent. But now with a season under my belt, I will be more aggressive this year for sure. I know how my car will handle and most of the tracks layouts now.”
Entering his second year of racing, Belfry says the goal is try and finish well at each track, while completing the season in the top-five in points once again. However, he recognizes it will be a challenge, given the “number of cars in the field this season, and all the talent behind the wheel.”
For his rookie campaign, Belfry was strong on a weekly basis, scoring seven top-10’s en route to placing fifth in the year-end standings.
“I have to say I was a little nervous racing last year,” he admitted. “The previous season I ran a few hundred laps in Glen Blaker’s No. 25 car. I saw what happens if you don’t respect the car, when I watched someone crash a car hard into the wall. So I was a little hesitant climbing behind the wheel of a brand new car last year, trying to get a feel for it before I really pushed it. I just want to make sure I can go to work on Monday like everyone else.”
Looking back on his rookie campaign, he says the biggest takeaway is getting to know how to set-up one of the Pro Sprints.
“There are so many adjustments to make, you just have to be patient and not try too many things all at once,” he said. “Being able to go to some tracks to practice and what minor adjustments to make, and how the car reacts to those, both good and bad.”
For Belfry, he got his start in racing at the age of 18, after being introduced to it by a friend and helping on his pit crew. He spent years at the short track level, before spending years working for a CASCAR team for a couple years.
“Then I met Ted Greenwood,” Belfry recalls. “What can I say? If it has a motor, he wants to race it. He got me involved in kart racing. I raced for a few years at the Mosport Kart club. I have always liked anything that goes fast. Cars, snowmobiles, ATVs.”
Despite being involved in racing for years, his first Pro Sprint race last season stands out as the most memorable to date.
“We missed the season opener Peterborough as the cars were not quite ready,” he recalled. “I was able to practice a couple of days at Flamboro before our first race there. During the race, I had a major mechanical malfunction that caused me to hit the wall hard. It rang my bell pretty good for a few days after. I thought someone had hit me from behind sending me up into turn 1 wall. But when we inspected the car, we noticed a loose and a broken bolt. So needless to say, I checked every nut and bolt for the remainder of the season.”
Belfry and the Pro Sprints will open their season at Sunset Speedway on May 20 as part of Spring Velocity, which has him excited being his home track.
“We did lots of practice laps last year there and it is close to home, so hopefully we can get a good turnout and support from friends and family,” he said.
There are high hopes entering the season, simply based on the number of drivers building cars and having pre-registered.
“I think from the shows we put on last year, the crowds, and track owners see how superior we are to the other series (we all know which I am referring to),” he commented. “We generally have everyone finish races and not have carnage every night we race. A lot of racers may look at them like some kind of toy, but I think we surprised a lot of people with how fast these cars run and crashing hurts just as much. Also, we seem to be gaining interest from USA tracks and racers as well, which is fantastic.
“It is unfortunate that Canada does not really support any type of racing programs to the level they have in the USA. You can race just about anything there on any given night. We are headed in the right direction for sure.
“We have a lot of talented drivers, which makes for the fast, clean racing that the fans like to see. Everyone puts a lot of hard work into their cars, to make sure they are ready to race each week, and we all help each other to make sure we can continue to race at the track if we break. It is nice to be able to do something we all love each weekend without having a huge investment tied up.”
Before the 2018 season kicks off, though, Belfry will be one of the drivers with his car on display at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo. Taking place at the International Centre from March 9 through the 11th, the event brings together some of the best looking cars and racecars for fans to look at, along with industry experts available for autographs and stage discussions.
By: Ashley McCubbin