Dillon Steuer showed the confidence and nerve of a seasoned racing veteran, reeling in the car in front of him for the lead and holding steady the final 10 laps for the win in the Modified Crates division at Riverhead Raceway Saturday.
But Steuer is far from an expert; he’s not even street legal.
The 14-year-old from Bohemia and Oakdale-Bohemia Middle School has only raced at Riverhead a handful of times and won his first race at the track last time out. The son of Chuck Steuer, a former two-time NASCAR Modified champion at Riverhead in 1996 and 2006, Dillon said he always was meant to race.
“It was pretty awesome, there’s nothing like winning,” said Dillon, an 8th grader. “I grew up there watching my dad for a long time and I finally got a win there. It was always something I wanted to do. It was cool because it’s different than being in the stands. From the minute I wake up, I’m always looking forward to getting to the track.
“Any time you’re out there you do your best to hit your marks and reel them in if you have to or pass them. You do whatever it takes to win. You’ve got to have confidence.”
Dillon said he’s the youngest racer in the division and the second youngest person is about 20 years old, but he holds his own against more experienced competition. He added that it’s special to be in the same winners circle he used to run to from the stands when his father raced.
“He was at race tracks since he was born,” said Chuck, 48, also of Bohemia. He said his son has raced against adults on dirt tracks for two years upstate and in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. “I was racing and he was out in the stands; he paid attention and learned by watching. He competes pretty well.”
Chuck, who has 19 career wins in the NASCAR Modified division at Riverhead, said he decided to stop racing two weeks ago and only focus on his son’s career. He added that the decision wasn’t difficult because he has more time to bond with his son through racing and working on cars.
“It feels better to me when he wins than when I won,” Chuck said. “Everybody’s driving the same sized car so I don’t think it matters how old the kid is inside, as long as he can handle himself out there.”
Added Dillon: “It’s really awesome because you realize how young you are and how much longer you could be racing. I don’t really think about what they think of me, I just do my best.”
Shawn Solomito, Islip - 228
John Fortin, Holtsville - 214
Vinny Biondolillo, Farmingville - 208
Howie Brode, East Islip - 208
David H. Brigati, Calverton - 201
Go Kart Expo, NASCAR Modifieds, 50-lap Late Models (time trials), Blunderbusts, Super Pro Trucks, 30-lap Legend Race Cars (time trials), 4/6-Cylinder Truck Enduro.