The first race Steve Dubisar ever ran he came away with a win in a photo finish.
Thirteen years later, Dubisar estimates he’s added about 99 victories to that win total.
But even after winning several races a season, there was one box on Dubisar’s racing career checklist that he had yet to check off until last season.
After winning nine races in 2019, Dubisar ran away with his first track championship in the street stocks division at Coos Bay Speedway, a NASCAR-sanctioned 3/8-mile dirt oval track in Coos County, Oregon.
Dubisar had been close to a championship several times, finishing second and third a number of years, but he decided to really go for the win last season, thanks in part to sponsors who wanted to see him get the trophy, and a little talk from his friends at the track.
"People talk. We have close buddies that pick fun at each other," Dubisar said. "I never had a track championship, they always threw that in my face, so I would say, yea, that fueled my fire a little bit between that and sponsors. It was a good reason to go for it so I did and it feels good to get that one at least. The monkey is off my back."
After building a new motor two seasons ago, Dubisar blew it early in the season last year, and had to switch to another motor from his mud truck. About a month later he got his old motor back and said the team was "clean sailing from there." Some added good luck helped the team cruise to a championship by more than 300 points.
"It was a good year," he said.
Dubisar started driving street stocks when he was 23 years old. His dad and uncle raced, and he went to his first race during his sophomore year of high school. He did some mud and sand drag racing, and a demolition derby at Coos Bay in 2004.
"We were beating and banging and I took the checkered flag on that one," he said. "It was pretty fun."
Dubisar knew he eventually wanted to try oval track racing, but he needed to wait until after he finished college.
When he finally got a chance to get behind the wheel in 2007, he picked up a 1973 Dodge Chevelle in California and put a motor in it. The rest is history.
"I went out for my first race and got the checkered flag on a photo finish with another kid. It was his first time racing too," Dubisar said. "So I was hooked after that. … I was spoiled right off the bat I guess."
While he saw success early, there wasn’t much of a transition into oval racing for Dubisar.
"I’m pretty competitive so it wasn’t really that big of a transition I guess you could say," he said.
After recently counting his trophies, Dubisar thinks he’s right around 100 wins in his career, including victories in the Lucas Oil Open Show at Coos Bay in 2016 and 2019, which he called two of the biggest wins of his career.
Dubisar briefly moved up the sportsman class at Coos Bay for a few years to challenge himself, and finished seventh in points in 2014, but he moved back down to street stocks three years ago.
Dubisar credited his girlfriend, Stephanie, with helping support him on and off the track and being his No. 1 fan, and thanked his kids, family, and friends for their help as well. He also said much of his success is thanks to Jon Inskeep, who has sponsored his motor for the last seven years.
"Without him I couldn’t do it," Dubisar said. "That’s a big chunk of money. It’s his motor and I’m lucky enough to run it for him."
He also thanked his sponsors: Dave Beck, Marty Lipscombe, Tim & Connie, Jeremy Bond, RHR Heating, Dennys Pizza, Colt Signs, Johnson Rock Products, Fast Mart, Econo Rooter, and Lil Stinker.
Even with a delayed start to the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, repeating his title is definitely on Dubisar’s mind. He already has a win in two races, and is currently second in the street stocks points at Coos Bay. A new set-up that he said worked "amazing" last weekend has the defending champion feeling confident.
But after those at his home track have taken to calling him the "King of Coos Bay Street Stocks", Dubisar knows those on the track are coming for him this season. He’s very good friends with his competition, and everyone in the street stocks division is in a group chat where there’s "a lot of talking," which makes fighting for another title even more fun.
"Almost everybody that we race with, we’re all really close. Even out of town guys, when we go to different tracks we’ve all gotten to know each other over the years," he said. "I don’t want them to catch me so I’ve got to keep trying and trying to get faster and faster. I would say it fuels me a little more because if I get beat I don’t want to be that guy where my buddies are picking on me… I want to have the upper hand.
"But it is fun to play around a little bit."
Racing will return to Coos Bay on Saturday for NASCAR Weekly Racing featuring Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars,
America’s Mattress Super Late Models, Sportsman Late Models, Street Stocks, Mini Outlaws, Hornets, and Dwarf Cars Pro. The track will also host the IMCA Modified Gambler on Sunday with America’s Mattress Super Late Models, Sportsman Late Models, Street Stocks, Mini Outlaws, Hornets, IMCA Modifieds, and IMCA Sportmod.
"I have a bounty out for me," he said. "They’re coming for me from all around Oregon and even the local guys have built new cars. They want to take me down. They’ve made it very clear to me they’re coming for me, so it’s definitely added a little pressure. I don’t want to let my sponsors and everybody down, so I have some big shoes to fill to keep it going."