Steve Kearney knows his place in the pecking order. Like the 75 or 80 other drivers who sign-in at the pit gate of Brockville Ontario Speedway on Saturday nights during the spring, summer and fall, Kearney shares a passion for the sport of stock car racing. It’s not his profession; just a hobby. The 41 year-old defines himself as a support division racer. The grandstands aren’t always filled with fans when he and his fellow street stock runners take to the track, but every racecar driver – whether they’ve been part of the game for years or just starting out – has followers and they’ve all paid to see the show.
Originally from Athens – but now living in Brockville – Kearney started working on racecars when he was about 15 years old. The machine he campaigns now began its life as a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass family grocery-getter that was transformed into a stock car by Doug Herbison, using a CSC main cage and a variety of handcrafted components. Kearney says one of his biggest thrills is running a hard race but admits that there are other interests that sometimes keep him away from the track.
“My partner Patti and I have a blended family with 3 kids between us,” said Kearney. “We all love the outdoors and look forward to our time together at the campground and fishing. I’ve worked hard to build and maintain a racecar that runs competitively with the teams who are at the track every week and I’m sure if I went out of my way to attract sponsorship support for the car, I’d be right there with them, but that’s not really what I’m about. I love racing, but I’m also trying to walk a fine line that’ll allow us to do a little bit of everything.”
For the 2012 season, Kearney – a process operator at 3M in Brockville – has come-up with an innovative idea that just might allow him to race and still spend some valuable time with his family. The quarter panels of his #22 street stock carries the message ‘U Can Camp’, while ‘Rent My Trailer’ appears on the car’s hood. He says the goal is to rent his travel trailer during the season to help off-set the cost of his racing program.
“Over the years, I’ve noticed some unusual sponsorship ideas. Patti and I talked about this during the winter and thought we’d give it a try,” said Kearney. “We don’t have a ton of money to throw around and whether or not it’ll be successful is hard to say. It’s just like making changes to the racecar. You never know what might help how the car handles or in this case, catch someone’s eye.”
Getting the car to the track is truly a family effort. The driver’s father Mike and mother Sharon do their part; while Patti and her daughter Danielle and Steve’s kids Brandon and Brittany pitch-in to make the sure the car is detailed, clean and ready to race when it rolls onto the track. A former recreational hockey player who traditionally wore #21, Kearney made the switch to #22 for his racing endeavours in an effort to make his luck behind the wheel a little better than it had been at the rink.
“I may have started a little bit later than some of the other drivers who are moving their way through the ranks and even though things aren’t always perfect, there isn’t too much I’d change,” said Kearney. “I don’t feel the need to move into a different division or run the car harder than I should to pick-up another position on the track. Having fun is what our team is all about and as long as we’re doing that, the #22 street stock will still be part of the show at The BOS.”
Prepared by: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications