August 23, 2019

Matt Steuerwald is back behind the wheel of No. 3 - Daily Leader Extra : Sports

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Matt Steuerwald is back behind the wheel of No. 3

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 2:14 pm

Something exciting is going on in local auto racing circles. It's hopefully renewed interest in the sport and might well be the beginning of a youth movement.

Take Madison's Matt Steuerwald, one of the best stock car pilots to come out of Lake County. He started racing in 1994, when he and longtime friend Ken Boer put together a sportsman racer, the entry level racing division at Lake County Speedway.

Learning as they went, Steuerwald and Boer -- assisted by master mechanic Chuck Hall -- were soon the team to beat. Moving into the highly competitive late model street stock class, Steuerwald racked up a string of feature wins. He was Lake County's champion in 1999.

He strung together seven main event victories in 2000 while running at Lake County, Huset's and Rock Rapids. He was in the top five at Huset's every year he ran. He also won the very last race at Lake County in the fall of 2007. Championship trophies went to the Steuerwald team in 2008, '09 and '10.

Then he quit. The kids had grown and were involved in many school activities. Team Steuerwald didn't have anything to prove; they had raced and beat the best.

Today they are back, sort of. On July 27, the famous No. 3 late model street stock pulled into the pits at I-90 Speedway just west of Hartford. The driver? None other than Matt Steuerwald.

"This is only our second race of the year," he smiled. "Hope I can knock off some of the rust."

He did -- and he was fast -- but something was amiss on the car and he pulled in both during his heat and the main event. It will be back to the shop, but the next time he will likely be running up front.

Asked why he is racing again after a couple of years off, Steuerwald grinned. "Look around," he said, waving toward the assembled pit crew. "It's the kids."

He explained that several of the younger kids seemed interested in racing again. An assortment of nephews, sons and neighbor kids expressed an interest.

"They enjoy it. Besides, I kinda wanted to get everybody back together again," he said. "That's the most fun about racing, just getting friends and family together."

Matt and Marsha have two children, Briana 18 and Chase 13. Then there is DeBoer's family. Ken and Matt were roommates in school. Lifelong friends, they even married girlfriends and the four remain friends. DeBoer is part owner of the No. 3 stocker. His son Garret is on the pit crew. Chance Ragsdale and Hall have been a part of the Steuerwald racing program since the beginning.

"Chuck is retired today, but I couldn't race without him," Steuersald said matter-of-factly.

What does the future hold for the No. 3 late model street stock effort?

"It all depends on the kids," smiled Steuerwald. "They kinda dictate what we do."

And that is a good thing. Many Madison area drivers now consider I-90 Speedway their home track. It is a scant 30 miles from home. With encouragement and interest from the younger fans, the Steuerwald racing efforts and auto racing in general can only get better.

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