His day usually begins at 6 a.m. After breakfast and handling household issues, Steve Shead sets out on his 50-minute daily commute to Bunnell where he manages Boulevard Tire. There, and at the Ormond Beach store, he installs tires, talks shop, advises his customers about tire tread. Around 5 p.m. he packs up and heads over to Lake County to spend another couple of hours in his and his brother, Paul’s, garage, getting their cars ready for Saturday races at Volusia Speedway Park, or as Steve Shead puts it, his “sanctuary.”
From sunup to sundown, Shead (pronounced “shed”) is surrounded with tires, dirt and cars, but he would have it no other way. In fact, he enjoys all that he does so much that he donates his time to work on the track’s equipment — graders, loaders, etc. — for free.
“That’s just my way of saying thank you for all they do for us,” Shead said. “Doing that and all of the other race stuff is like a second job, but it’s a labor of love, so it doesn’t feel that way. I thank the good Lord every day for allowing me to continue to do this. To enjoy it the way we do — it’s something you can’t replace.”
Steve and Paul Shead have been racing at Volusia Speedway for 18 years, nearly their entire 20-year careers. As youngsters, their dad, who was a dirt-track racer, took them out there a first time, and, after watching the excitement, they looked at other and exclaimed, “We have to do this! There’s got to be a way we can do this.”
“We were spectators for many, many years until we were able to get a car,” Shead said. “Once we could get a car, we began to strip it, with my dad being a part of all the process, and that brought everyone together, which is how it all started.”
After some years into their driving careers, they built their personal garage, where they also work on other racing cars. There are currently nine cars they send out to the tracks to compete on Saturday evenings.
Other racers know they can take their cars to the Sheads.
Paul Shead won the previous two championships in the Limited Late Model Class division, and he has moved to the Late Model division. Steve, who’s still in the Limited Model division, is currently leading in points, and he’s looking to win the first championship of his career.
“A championship win would mean the world to me,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve come in second a few times, so there’s nothing I want more than to win a championship here. This is my home away from home. This is where I bring all of my problems and issues and race them away.”
A few years ago, Shead broke his leg, and, when he saw a doctor, he was told he would have to get a cast.
“I said, ‘No, you can’t do that. I have a race Saturday night,’” he laughed. “They put a splint on it, and miraculously, I finished third that night and had the cast put on the next day. ... You don’t notice it during the race because of the adrenaline. But afterward, it was throbbing. It was quite throbbing.”
At 51 years old, Shead’s not ready to retire. He’s actually looking to move up where his brother is.
“Eventually, me and Paul want to compete at the top tier in Volusia Speedway Park’s full-blown Super Late Models together,” Shead said. “All the guys who run in that division know that we’re coming, and they know we are going to give them a good run for their money.”