Steve Blackburn and Life in the Not Quite As Fast Lane

Share Article

Steve Blackburn likes to spend life in the fast lane. Racing since he was a kid, he's won motorcycle and stock car championships and spends almost all of his free time preparing the Dodge he bought from Ganassi Racing for ARCA events at Daytona and Talladega. The problem with living in that fast lane is the money involved. It costs easily over $100,000 to prepare and take part in a single race at Daytona International Speedway or Talladega. Crew expenses involved in preparing the car in the off-season, trips to the Dyno or Performance Vehicle Works in North Carolina, transportation to testing sessions at the tracks, housing and feeding the crew while on the road are just a few of the expenses involved with an ARCA race team.

Steve Blackburn up top in the #68 just before getting hit by Steve Arpin and Milka Duno at the ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway

Steve Blackburn up top in the #68 just before getting hit by Steve Arpin and Milka Duno

In the world of racing, its really about the haves and have nots. Those with money or without.

Steve Blackburn likes to spend life in the fast lane. Racing since he was a kid, he's won motorcycle and stock car championships and spends almost all of his free time preparing the Dodge he bought from Ganassi Racing for ARCA events at Daytona and Talladega.

The problem with living in that fast lane is the money involved. It costs easily over $100,000 to prepare and take part in a single race at Daytona International Speedway or Talladega. Crew expenses involved in preparing the car in the off-season, trips to the Dyno or Performance Vehicle Works in North Carolina, transportation to testing sessions at the tracks, housing and feeding the crew while on the road are just a few of the expenses involved with an ARCA race team.

At last weekend's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway, the Steve Blackburn Motorsports hauler was right next to the Richard Childress Racing hauler for Richard's grandson Ty Dillon and not far from the various teams of Venturini Motorsports among others. At first glance, there doesn't seem to be a big difference at the back of those haulers lined up in the garage area at Daytona but if you look closely, the advantages for those big teams like RCR and Venturini become glaringly clear.

The pit boxes, tool boxes, tire carriers, and uniforms all seem to shout money as the teams prepare for that day's upcoming race. Some teams bring cooks and fix 3 meals a day for the teams at the back of the haulers. For those big teams, you don't see the driver until a meeting, fan event or just before the race starts and they've flown in from wherever they were the previous day. Nascar teams like Hendrick Motorsports with Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson and Mark Martin have the best of everything while on a smaller scale, the Venturini, RCR teams and others racing the ARCA Series clearly have the advantages.

For Steve and the team of SBM, its quite different. Throughout the year, Steve is in the garage with Crew Chief Gary Hostettler and the team turning nuts and bolts, checking tire pressures, cleaning the garage area and just about anything else that these bigger teams have specific individuals take care of. Just a week before the race at Daytona, Steve could be found helping put the decals on the car and carrying coolers, gas cans, tools and more while loading the hauler for the trip from Prestonsburg, KY to Daytona, FL. Even if Steve Blackburn had the seemingly unlimited resources most of his fellow ARCA competitors have, he'd still help with most of these things but in his case at the moment, he has to.

Steve's racing team is self-funded. Steve receives no sponsorship money and completely finances all those items discussed earlier. That first glance at the haulers located in the garage area at Talladega shows the various teams with big sponsors like Mike's Hard Lemonade, Citgo, Monster Energy and many more. These sponsors basically finance the race expenses for these teams and much more while Steve Blackburn digs deep in his pockets for everything from lunch to hotel expenses, and tires to engines. And speaking of engines...

Chevy rolled out the new R07 racing engine a couple years ago and Toyota's new engines join them as the top of the line, must have motors for the racing circuit. The R07, the first engine built specifically for racing, has a price tag of around $120,000 to purchase. You can also lease the motor for one race at the bargain price of $35,000. Most of the mega-teams have several of these around their shops as they can easily afford the costs. For guys like Steve Blackburn, he's still racing with the motors he purchased when Ganassi racing was having their yard sale a couple years back.

What this equates to is a difference of about 15 horsepower between drivers like Ty Dillon and Steve Blackburn. While most of us don't see that as much of a problem, when Steve is coming off turn 4 at Daytona and wants to pass the car in front of him, he lacks the power to come out of the turn and make that pass. It's a huge advantage for those teams with the best equipment money can buy.

So Steve Blackburn has to be better on the track and in the pits and garage to make up for the disadvantage of the equipment. In spite of all the advantages at least 25 cars out of the 43 racing Saturday at Daytona had, Steve, from his starting position of 38th, steadily moved up through the field. Being smarter and more skilled than most, Steve Blackburn used the features of the track and new pavement and the perfect setup of the car from Crew Chief Gary Hostettler and gained 25 spots on the track, moving up to 13th by lap 60 of the 80 lap race. With several cars in front of him still needing to pit in the last 20 laps, the crew of Steve Blackburn Motorsports had pitted strategically and would not have to come back in for tires or fuel. Steve knew he'd have the opportunity to race for a win in that last 20 laps and was biding his time.

Steve, being from Prestonsburg, KY, located in the economically depressed coal fields of Eastern Kentucky, had the entire region of Appalachia in that seat with him last Saturday. Steve is the General Manager of Honda of Prestonsburg and had countless well-wishers come by in the weeks leading up to the race. Good friends Willard Kinzer, David May and Adam Adkins came down to support Steve at the race and were anxiously watching the number 68 move up through the field anticipating a great finish. Those of us in the pits had watched the number 94 team in the pit next to us have to load up their tools just a few laps into the race after their driver crashed. Steve Blackburn Motorsports and fans knew that feeling. Last year at Daytona, just 7 laps into the race with Steve moving up through the field fellow competitor Bill Baird lost control while Steve was passing on the outside and put the Harley Davidson of Pikeville/Honda of Prestonsburg Dodge up into the wall, ending the day way too early. The respect shown Steve around the garage area was very apparent as Bill Kimmel and several others stopped by the hauler after the race to make sure Steve was okay after the hard hits

The problem with racing in the not quite as fast lane as most of the other competitors is having to race side by side with some of the young drivers and others taking some unneccessary chances in the middle of the pack. From Sprint Cup to Nationwide to Trucks and ARCA, most of the drivers try to avoid being in the traffic mid-pack at Daytona because they know that's where the big one happens.

So, in spite of all the patience, perfect setup, skillful driving and passing by Steve, when Hal Martin cut a tire, Steve Arpin turned down into Milka Duno turning both of them and taking out Steve Blackburn on lap 64, ending a run for SBM which had so much promise and had most of Eastern Kentucky jumping out of their chairs in dismay. All the hard work over the last year, the expenses of a self-funded race team and the support of the entire Appalachia region was all for naught and all of us were left to think about what might have been. Hopes had risen with each competitor Steve passed during that race only to be crushed just as the 68 car was in turn 4 at Daytona.

While there was some benefit from having Harley Davidson of Pikeville and Honda of Prestonsburg on the car for this race, the two stores run by brothers Steve and Shawn Blackburn have specific local/regional marketing areas and don't quite reap the rewards nationwide sponsors would. So once again, Steve Blackburn is left to rebuild the car, dig deeper in the pockets and get ready for the Talladega ARCA race just two months away in April. Steve has had some success at Talladega where a couple years ago he was in second place behind Joey Logano with 4 laps to go, waiting for the opportunity to pass on the high side when a left rear tire cut down, forcing Steve to drop out of line and allowing Justin Allgeier to pull the move that won him the race that day.

In the world of racing, its really about the haves and have nots. Those with money or without. Steve has the skill and ability to race cars with anyone at any level. That 15 horsepower means Steve has to do to much racing back there where the big one happens. As much as Steve loves racing and so many in the Eastern KY coal fields support him, it's just getting harder and harder to reach in those pockets and fund it.

About Steve Blackburn Motorsports:

Championships: 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Atlantic Region Champion. 2004 Lonesome Pine Raceway Late Model Division Track Champion (Won 14 of 19 races)

Experience: Blackburn first began racing motorcycles touring nationally throughout the 1980s. He captured a national championship in the early 80s and continued on a successful pace throughout the early 90s. Winning the U. S. Twin Sports at Daytona International Speedway was the highlight of his bike career. His 35 years of racing experience now include championships in both motorcycle racing and stock car racing. He turned his attention to stock car racing in the late 1990s and hasn't looked back since.

Then & Now: In the late 90s, Blackburn made a career change, moving to dirt modified stock car racing. Winning local and national championships, Steve gained valuable experience testing his skills and eventually moving to a full-bodied late model stock car.

Winning a NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series Atlantic Region Championship and winning the Lonesome Pine Speedway (VA) most popular driver award in 2004, Blackburn Motorsports felt challenged to take on the next level - the ARCA RE/MAX Series. His first appearance came at the 1.5 mile paved oval Kentucky Speedway in May 2005. The Prestonsburg KY native took his fellow competitors by surprise. Running 4th in practice at 166.3 mph, the rookie proved to be a serious contender. Unfortunately, his qualifying attempt was hindered due to rainfall, keeping him out of the event. He returned to the speedway in July, again surprising everyone with a 14th place finish in the night race.

Potential interested sponsors and media may contact Billy Pickering, Director of Marketing for Steve Blackburn Motorsports at billy(at)steveblackburnmotorsports(dot)com or by phone at 606-253-8470.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Billy Pickering
Visit website