David Steele, an open-wheel racing legend, died Saturday night when his car crashed during a race at DeSoto Speedway in Bradenton.
A Manatee County Sheriff's Office report said Tampa's Steele, 42, was pronounced dead at the scene. His car went airborne and hit a wall after his front tire clipped another car's rear tire in a turn at the start of the Southern Sprintcar Shootout Series 35-lap main event.
The crash occurred approximately at 9 p.m. Steele was treated by medics at the track, but was pronounced dead.
The racing world was quick to react. NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne Tweeted, "One of the best and such a good guy to hang out and have a beer with. Praying for his family."
Veteran sprint car driver Mike Kelley added, "David Steele carried the dreams of so many of us from the west coast of Florida, and proved hard work, desire, talent will take u places."
DeSoto Speedway posted a statement. “Desoto Speedway owners and staff are saddened by tonight’s passing of David Steele in the sprint car feature. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends who were all in attendance, to see him try to win his 100th Florida race.”
Steele was a two-time winner of the prestigious Little 500 in Anderson, Ind., as well as being a two-time winner of the Turkey Night Grand Prix midget race, the biggest event of that class. He was the defending Southern Sprintcar Shooter Series champion and was a two-time Silver Crown series national champion.
He had three Indy Racing League starts in 1998 and had two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in 2000.
He was racing car No. 33 on Saturday night on the 3/8-mile oval asphalt track.