Go to any National Auto Sport Association track event and there is always a story or two about the “Spirit of NASA.” The spirit is going above and beyond whether it’s providing a spare part or hopping under a car to help get a buddy back on track.
Imagine loaning your car to a driver who goes on to win the 2019 NASA Championships in Spec Iron. That’s what Steve Revelette did and he was happy to help Robin Burnett win at the Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course last September.
Burnett pulled into the pits at the NASA Championships and had destroyed the engine when Revelette approached him with an offer: An engine or a car.
“He’s too good a racer, his times are too fast, he’s too nice a guy. He had to take the car, period,” Revelette said about the 2019 Championships. “This is a way it should have ended up, but had he not won, regardless, he should race,”
The pair worked out a plan over lunch to loan Burnett the car and spent the night swapping suspensions on the cars. Burnett had to start at the back of his group, but climbed eight spots to win Spec Iron, fending off Jay North by a mere 1.6 seconds.
“At least now I’m a championship car owner,” Revelette said with a laugh about the experience.
Revelette would normally be behind the wheel of the 2010 Ford Mustang, but at the NASA Championships he decided to support his 22-year-old son Cameron, who also was racing in Spec Iron. The 57-year-old knew he wasn’t going to be competitive in Ohio, so he went in a support role.
“I knew I was not going to be competitive for a win and I did not want to be in anybody’s way that had come from a long way,” Revelette said. “I didn’t want to take a risk of bumping somebody, be in the wrong position when I wasn’t going to win.”
Both the father and son race identical 2010 Ford Mustangs, which the elder Revelette meticulously restored and turned into race cars. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky with two Ford assembly plants in the region, it was only natural that the elder Revelette would be a Ford fan. He currently has seven Ford cars including a classic 1969 Ford Mustang. (Revelette has owned and sold seven old Winston Cup cars over the years.)
“I’ve always loved Ford Mustangs. I bought and sold cars as a kid and growing up until I got busy working full time,” Revelette said. “It’s usually a Ford or a Mustang. I just like them.”
Revelette got his children involved with junior drag racing as a family activity. Dad got to scratch his mechanical itch and the kids got the thrill of competition. Revelette’s three children Kristin Baugh, 29, Jessica, 27, and Cameron, 22, are grown.
Cameron works with his father at Banner Tool & Machine, a machine shop that specializes in tool and die for the automotive, package handling and food processing industries. He looks forward to racing with his father on the weekends.
“It’s a lot different because he’s my boss at work, so he’s telling me what to do,” Cameron said. “Then once we get to the track, it’s just kind of a hobby that we both enjoy doing. It’s kind of nice, kind of getting to relax and still have fun driving cars and all that.”
Steve enjoys the time they spend at the track together.
“My goal as a parent was to try to find a way to be with my kids, which is why I (did) junior drag racing,” Steve said. “I wanted that experience again. How can I keep my son with me? As time goes on, as you know, a lot of fathers and sons grow apart and we (stay connected) through racing.”
Since Cameron is the faster driver of the pair, Steve will often make changes to Cameron’s car before applying it to his own racecar. “He’s worked on cars since his early 20s, so when it comes to that, if something’s broke, he knows what to do,” Cameron said. “I can tell him what it’s doing or what sound it’s making and normally he can figure it out and fix it there at the track.”
While the elder Revelette prefers the mechanical side of racing, he still races four or five events as part of the NASA Great Lakes region. He wanted a class that was fast but even competition, which Spec Iron provides.
“I love racing. I love the competition. I either want to be chased or chase somebody,” Revelette said. “For me, just making laps was fun and it’s enjoyable, but I wanted some measure of competition whether I’m good at it or not.”
Revelette plans to start working with a driving coach and get deeper into data and video, a process that has helped Cameron improve lap times on the track. Thanks to loaning the car to Burnett, Revelette said he also learned a few chassis tuning tips.
“I think I’ll get more competitive, but my driving style is not suiting well for times, so I’ll improve there,” he said.
Revelette said sitting in on one of his son’s HPDE classes, he realized the importance of working with a coach before upgrading the car. “You’ll most likely get more speed out of a coach than you will out of your car. It’s there, you’re just not utilizing it to its fullest extent,” he said.
The younger Revelette says his father happy the track to break away from the stresses of work.
“I’m more of a competitive one, if I’m not doing well, I’ll take a little more serious just because growing up playing sports my whole life,” Cameron said. “I’ll take it more serious than he does. I think for him, he takes it seriously and he wants to do well, but it’s definitely for him just about the fun and being out there driving the car.”
|Region:||NASA Great Lakes|
|Racing Class:||Spec Iron|
|Sponsors:||Banner Tool, Louisville Industrial Supply Company|
|Day Job:||Owner, Banner Tool, Louisville Industrial, REVCO ent.|
|Favorite TV show:||Original “Top Gear”|
|Favorite Movie:||“Saving Private Ryan”|
|Favorite Track:||Watkins Glen|
|Dream Racecar:||Ford GT|