The 2019 season couldn’t have gotten any better for Jeff Steele after a recent visit to his home track Broome Speedway, with the visit catapulting him to champion status by virtue of a well-deserved victory in the WA Modified Sedan Title.
While his nerves were immense while starting from pole position for the 35-lap WA Title-deciding feature race, nothing could compare to the elation the 40-year-old driver felt when crossing the finish line in first place to achieve a milestone that has been 28 years in the making.
First becoming involved in speedway as a spectator at the age of 12, Steele’s foray into his own competitive racing career didn’t begin until half a decade later, when he joined the Street Stock class and raced his Datsun for the next two seasons, before upgrading to a Ford Cortina.
Spending a season on the sidelines while focusing on purchasing a house, Steele returned to the track in 2001, marking the beginning of his Modified Sedan campaign that spanned 15 seasons aboard an XF Ford Falcon, predominantly racing at Broome Speedway, Nickol Bay Speedway and Derby Speedway.
Building up a BA Ford Falcon that he planned to debut in 2017, Steele then decided to purchase the 2014 National Title winning FG Ford Falcon from Mark Carlin, who drove with his crew almost 5,000 kilometres all the way from Geelong in Victoria to Steele’s hometown of Broome to deliver the car, before continuing on to Queensland to pick up his new Sprintcar and return home.
Steele had also participated in the 2014 National Title at Albany’s Attwell Park Speedway and had seen Carlin’s car in action.
Piloting this WA # 91 Steele Painting Service supported FG Ford Falcon for the past two seasons, Steele had amassed numerous top-three results, while also placing runner-up in the overall Broome Speedway Club Championship point score, despite starting each season slightly late, and second overall in the past two Shinju Matsun Championships.
Having contested his maiden WA Title at Shark Bay Speedway in 2002, Steele has gone on to contest eight WA Titles, with his best finish being fourth place in the 2012 running of the event at Carnarvon Speedway.
Experiencing a disappointing DNF due to a mechanical failure during the last WA Title that was held on home soil at Broome Speedway in 2011, won by his main rival Mick Johnson, after qualifying 11th for the feature race, Steele was eager to prove himself when he took to the track for this season’s running of the event, carrying added confidence with him due to banking a feature-race win at the Broome venue the fortnight prior.
Topping the point score after night one’s competition after scoring a pair of wins in his heat races and a third-place finish, it was a sleepless night for Steele, who was focused on repeating his consistency throughout night two. Doing just that, picking up a second-place finish in his final heat race, Steele was set to start the race in the best possible position.
With his car being on song throughout the weekend, Steele knew that it was up to him as a driver to hit his marks and maintain his composure throughout the feature race.
Immediately powering into the lead, Steele went on to build a solid gap from his rivals, navigating the lapped traffic with ease throughout the majority of the distance, until a stoppage and ensuing restart under a green-white chequered flag bunched them back up, once again bringing his nerves to the forefront.
A second stoppage and green-white chequered flag did nothing to calm Steele’s anxiety, but he managed to keep it together despite the mounting pressure and numerous challenges from second-placed Branden Fraser, crossing the line in front of his family and friends as a deserving winner and being overwhelmed by feelings of relief and excitement.
In an interesting development, Steele had been purchased for $450 in the calcutta driver auction by none other than the nine-year-old son of event sponsor Roadline Civil’s owner.
With the Broome Speedway season still in full swing, Steele hopes to continue his momentum in order to go one better in the Broome Speedway Club Championship and take the win. Next season, he hopes to travel down south to participate in selected rounds of the WA Modified Sedan Series.
Steele would like to give special thanks to Steele Painting Service, long-time friend and rival Ray Clifton, who helped Steele build his XF Ford Falcon, BK Halliday, Cody Brown, Phil Barton, his pit crew Scott, Teresa and Adam, Kodee Brown and the Brown family for producing a great race track, event sponsors McCorry Brown Earthmoving and Roadline Civil, and the entire Broome Speedway community.