Drag Racing, Feature Article, Washington — November 22, 2004 at 4:47 pm

Randy Steinman (issue 62)


By Steve Heeb

When Randy Steinman blew an engine at Bremerton Raceway a couple of years ago, it would have appeared he was about to lose his lead in the track’s points lead. But that just wasn’t in Randy’s plans for the season.

Instead, Randy immediately set to work to completely rebuild the motor in time to be back racing the following weekend.

“I had to overnight the camshaft and parts from all over,” he recalls. “The last bolt was put in Saturday at 6. At 6:45, I was racing.”

The 51-year-old mechanic for King County Metro Transit splits his racing efforts between Bremerton Raceway and Pacific Raceways, and captured the Pro title at both tracks this year. You see, that was his plan.

Long before settling down in Auburn, Wash., Randy has been involved with racing since he helped his three brothers race in Mio, Mich., back in the ’60s. He was drafted into the Navy, and was stationed in San Diego, Calif., where he took up racing at nearby Carlsbad.

He got a ’68 Plymouth Road Runner by trading, straight across, for his Dodge pickup and 250-cc dirt bike.

By 1978, Randy was ready to take some time off from racing. It turned out to be 20 years.

In 1998, Randy’s daughter April, 15 at the time, asked why they couldn’t fix up the old Road Runner and drive it to car gatherings like the ones at Big Daddy’s diner in Auburn.

Randy took it a step further: “Let’s go race it.”

They brought the Road Runner out of the garage and headed to the Nostalgia Drags at then-Seattle Int’l Raceway.

Randy recalls how excited April was in the return lane after he won the first round. As it turned out, Randy won the bracket, his very first race back.

He started competing in SIR’s Friday Night bracket races, though not seriously.

When April was a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School, she wanted to drive her own ’95 Z-28 Camaro at the annual High School Drags competition.

“I took her out to the track on Wednesday to practice,” Randy explains. “She won on Friday night. As far as I know, she was the first girl to win.”

April joined her dad at the track more often and had a chance to get more seat time for herself.

“She was good, I was good,” Randy says.

It was suggested that Randy ought to race the points, so he took up serious racing in 2000. He took sixth in points that year, and backed that up with a fourth-place standing the following season. In 2002, Randy advanced to runner up in the Pro ranks and added Bremerton to his racing schedule.

“The Saturday-night racing is quick,” Randy says about Pacific Raceway. “It runs from 7 to 11. Bremerton is an all-day affair. Make the first pass at 9 and it might be 7 before it ends.”

Randy adds that he has had a chance to make more friends at Bremerton.

“There’s more time between rounds,” he continues. “It’s a more social event.”

He has become good friends with Sportsman driver Bob Fitzgerald.

“I kind of fell into a friendship with him,” Bob says of the first time they really met. On the way to a win one afternoon Bob had faced Randy in the first round and April in the final round.

“Bob has helped me tons,” Randy says of the seven-time Bremerton champ.

In 2003, Randy took the Pro title at Pacific Raceways and was runner up in Bremerton’s Pro bracket as well.

The only way for him to top that feat would be to win the titles at both tracks in 2004. Which, of course, he did.

“He’s one of the best racers around,” Handler Racing Assoc. president Gordon Howell says, noting that Randy has a way of quietly climbing to the top through the course of an event. “You get down to the end of the day and here’s Randy racing someone in the finals.”

Gordon asked Randy to drive on the Bremerton Raceway team at the NHRA Division Finals.

Reluctantly, Randy had to decline, having won Pacific Raceways’ King of the Track title and his Subway-sponsored Road Runner already appearing on the Team Seattle shirts.

Now that the season is done, Randy has more time for other weekend pastimes like off-roading in the family Jeep. Randy and wife Brenda head out for Evans Creek, Naches Pass or a variety of spots in Eastern Washington.

He once came too close to an off-road adventure while returning from a race at Bremerton. He had installed a set of barely street legal rain slicks on the Road Runner so he could drive home in the rain. In the turns near the Tacoma Dome, the car got sideways and it was clear to Randy that he would have to get a trailer.

During his steady climb at both dragstrips, Randy has noticed that everyone seems to be making the same mistake when it comes to building a race car. He suggests that people should design and build their racers from back to front.

“Start at the rear of the car and work forward, he offers. “First the traction, then suspension, shifter. And then the engine.”

He also recommends a good cooling system.

“Build everything stronger than you think,” he says. “My car is designed for 1,000 horsepower, but it runs about 500.”

But that’s plenty enough to muscle out Randy’s personal best 11.58-second pass at 116 mph.

And, of course, there are those two championships from Pacific Raceways and Bremerton.

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