Sprint car driver Steele killed in Florida speedway crash

Author: AP
Published: Updated:
David Steele (Photo via WTSP / Manatee County Sheriff’s Office)

BRADENTON, Fla. A Sprint car driver remembered as “bigger than life” died during a race Saturday night.

David Steele’s left front wheel struck the right rear wheel of another car, causing Steele’s vehicle to go up in the air, spin 180 degrees and hit the retaining wall at Desoto Speedway, a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report said.

“He was just one of those drivers that people were drawn to, and a driver that every time he got on the track, you knew he was going to do something exciting,” said Jason Beckner, the announcer at 417 Southern Speedway in Punta Gorda, where Steele won his final race.

Medics attempted to treat him but he was pronounced dead. He was 42.

Steele was trying to win his 100th race in Florida, Desoto Speedway officials said in a post on Facebook.

NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne tweeted that Steele was “one of the best and such a good guy to hang out and have a beer with.”

Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series Director Rick Day remembered Steele for his humility and his stature on the track.

“He’s a standard that everybody shot for,” Day said. “When David showed up at a race, he was definitely the man to beat.”

Steele brought “tons of people” to racing, a sport with inherent risks, 417 Southern Speedway owner Joe Gentry said.

“There’s tons of safety stuff in place, but sometimes you still see this, and that’s the part that’s unavoidable,” Gentry said.

Steele was “kind of a short track hero,” a colorful character who was easy to love, Beckner recalled.

“David was bigger than life,” Beckner said. “He really was. He enjoyed this sport. He embraced it. He’s done amazing things in it and he would want us all to carry on.”

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson expressed condolences to Steele’s family after Larson won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series race at Fontana, California.

The 24-year-old Larson grew up watching Steele on “Thursday Night Thunder,” an ESPN series showcasing United States Auto Club (USAC) racing.

“Dave Steele was always the man when it came to pavement racing,” Larson said. “I got to watch him win a lot on TV. I didn’t know him personally very well, but I was lucky enough to be teammates with him one time at New Smyrna when I ran a USAC midget race there. He was a very quiet guy. I just remember it being an honor to be a teammate with him that night because he was so good at pavement racing. I knew we were going to be good, and we got the win. That was cool, to get to spend a little bit of time with him that weekend.”

Larson called Steele one of the greatest-ever USAC racers.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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