AMSOIL Sprints
Saturday, 24 April 2021


Steve Stapp (1940-2021) Steve Stapp (1940-2021) John Mahoney Photo


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Speedway, Indiana (April 24, 2021)………Steve Stapp, an inductee of both the National Sprint Car and USAC Halls of Fame, and the third winningest car owner in the history of the USAC National Sprint Car division, passed away on April 23, 2021, in his sleep at the age of 80.

Stapp, affectionately known as “The Bopper” and whose distinctive bib overalls were a familiar sight in USAC pit areas for more than a half century from the late 1950s and well into the 21st century, was the son of Babe Stapp, a 12-time Indianapolis 500 starter and a fellow inductee into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

Appearing initially in the USAC National Sprint Car standings as a driver between 1962-1964, Steve from Sherman Oaks, Calif. made 26 career starts with the series, and, most notably, uncorked a scintillating lap around the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track during qualifying in June of 1963, which set the new track record of 23.42.

Stapp then turned his attention to car ownership where his 51 career wins as a USAC Sprint Car owner rank third behind only Hoffman Auto Racing and Tony Stewart Racing.

The first of Stapp’s 51 career victories as an owner in USAC National Sprint Car competition came at the very same Terre Haute half-mile dirt oval just two years later in 1965 with driver Johnny Rutherford.

The victories continued to mount for Stapp with driver Mario Andretti scoring the second victory for the young car owner later that same season at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif.  Four more came with Larry Dickson during the 1968 season and two more with George Snider between 1971-72.

It was in 1973 when Steve began his partnership with a youthful second generation racer named Duane “Pancho” Carter that would ultimately become the most successful driver/owner combo in USAC National Sprint Car history.  Their 40 victories together between 1973-1980 still stands as the winningest pairing in the history of the division.

Along the way, Stapp and Carter racked up the 1974 and 1976 USAC National Sprint Car owner and driver titles, respectively, the first of which also came with team co-entrant John Conger.

Stapp found victory lane again 11 years after his most recent victory with Carter in 1980, striking gold with driver Jim Mahoney in the seat at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kans. in 1991.  Stapp returned to winning form twice more in 1996 with driver Mark Cassella, who provided Stapp his 50th and 51st career triumphs with the series that season at Michigan’s I-96 Speedway and Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway, respectively.

Stapp owned and operated a highly successful racing components business on the west side of central Indiana and was a regular speaker at several functions within the racing community where many would gather to listen to one of the greatest storytellers in the history of the sport.

Stapp is survived by his wife, Rosemary, and two children who have kept the Stapp name going strong in the racing game.  Susannah is the office manager for Hoosier Tire Midwest in Brownsburg, Ind. while son Andy worked for many years in NASCAR and drove for his father in USAC National Sprint Car competition during the 1980s and 1990s, making 34 career starts.