Behind the Wheel with Canadian Race Driver Kyle Steckly
Hailing from Milverton, Ontario, 18-year-old Kyle Steckly is becoming a formidable competitor on the race track, with an extensive resume already behind the wheel.
As the driver of the No. 22 powered by Pennzoil in the NASCAR Canada Series, Kyle's passion for racing has been a lifelong affair. Inherited from his father, Scott Steckly, a four-time NASCAR Canada Series champion, Kyle’s innate driving talent and competitive spirit have propelled him to early success in his career.
His racing experience is not limited to the NASCAR Canada Series, as Kyle also competed in the APC United Late Model Series, capturing the 2023 APC United Late Model Series championship and earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2022.
Pennzoil hopped into the driver’s seat with Kyle for the inside scoop on how he got his start in motorsports, his biggest influences in the sport, and what’s in store for the 2024 racing season.
PENNZOIL: Tell us a bit about your background in stock car racing. What initially sparked your interest in pursuing a career as a race car driver?
STECKLY: I grew up around racing with my dad. The sport has always been a part of my life, and I fell in love with it early on. I was also a huge fan of the “Cars” movies and would watch all three repeatedly because I loved the action.
When I turned seven, I received a go-kart for my birthday, and I've been racing ever since then. Although I always had a passion for racing and enjoyed going to the track, it wasn't until I sat in a go-kart for the first time that I realized how special it was.
PENNZOIL: Walk us through the beginning of your journey into motorsports.
STECKLY: My journey started in 2012, racing go-karts for about four to five years, and then I transitioned to a miniature car. My first real-sized car was a 1988 Ford Mustang. Over the past three years, I've been competing in a pro-late model in Ontario, and now I'm excited to continue racing in the NASCAR Canada Series.
PENNZOIL: Is there a particular Canadian racing driver who has significantly influenced your career and racing style?
STECKLY: My dad. He’s been such a role model since I learned everything related to racing from him. What I admired most about my dad growing up was that all the drivers respected him despite being competitors. It struck me that he was respectful both on and off the track, demonstrating a commitment to enjoying racing as part of the racing community rather than a business or a competition.
KYLE STECKLY BEGAN HIS CAREER RACING GO-KARTS AT AGE 7
KYLE STECKLY BEGAN HIS CAREER RACING GO-KARTS AT AGE 7
PENNZOIL: Your father is a four-time NASCAR Canada Series champion. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from him?
STECKLY: Respect. You must earn respect to gain respect. While it takes time, it’s also easy to lose respect. You must have respect from others, not just in racing but also in the real world, and be able to show respect, and they’ll deliver it back.
PENNZOIL: Were there any specific races you went to growing up that inspired your career?
STECKLY: My dad took me down to Martinsville Speedway in Virginia every fall to watch the NASCAR Cup Series race. These trips created countless memories as my dad took me and a group of friends down to watch the race each year. Watching that NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville strengthened my love for the sport with each visit.
PENNZOIL: Beyond racing, do you have any hobbies or interests that you like to pursue in your downtime?
STECKLY: I'm interested in engineering, so I took a few courses through high school and hope to join a mechanical engineering program in post-secondary school. What I enjoy most is the innovative parts, whether related to racing or not. I like trying to see how to make things more advanced and spending time with racing parts to see where we can improve.
PENNZOIL: How do you balance your passion for racing with school?
STECKLY: Education is important, and I'm trying to focus on it while I'm young and on my racing career. It’s a tricky balance, but for any classes I miss or cannot attend because of racing, I have some friends who will help send notes to stay on top of my work. At this stage in my life, education takes precedence, even while pursuing my racing career.
PENNZOIL: Are your friends aware of your budding career as a race car driver?
STECKLY: My friends know I’m a race car driver, but they don’t know how big or serious it has become. However, they've had the opportunity to attend a few races and witness my passion firsthand. One of my friends who came to watch a few races this summer was so inspired that he decided to take up racing. He even bought a race car and began competing at our local track on Friday nights, which I think is incredibly cool.
PENNZOIL: What is a typical day in your life on race day?
STECKLY: For most of our races, it’s a one-day event. We typically begin the day early, around 7:00 a.m., before heading to the track to register and sign up for the event. After that, we have a practice session lasting an hour or two after lunch. By supper time, it's time for the qualifying rounds, and around 8:30 p.m., we start the 100-lap race. Hopefully, we’ll have a good finish in the top five when we head to tech inspection for about an hour or two.
PENNZOIL: Any pre-race rituals or superstitions?
STECKLY: I wear the same t-shirt under my fire suit for the race. I was involved in a wreck the first time I didn’t wear it, so it’s always been a good luck charm for me.
KYLE STECKLY AT THE 2023 PRO LATE MODEL SNOWFLAKE 100 RACE
PENNZOIL: Winning your first pole award at Delaware Speedway was a significant milestone. What was going through your head at that moment?
STECKLY: I was excited. We faced some challenges at the beginning of the NASCAR Canada Series season. Still, when we got to Delaware, we had an exceptionally fast car, and we even secured the pole position, which was a great start. Unfortunately, during lap 100, while we were leading, a parts failure occurred, and we couldn't finish the race. I was still very proud of the racing team and how well we ran there at Delaware Speedway. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes, often unnoticed, starting in the race shop and with car preparation. Despite being unable to celebrate the win that day, we were back at it for another race the following day.
PENNZOIL: You’ve had the opportunity to race at various tracks across Canada and the US, competing in the NASCAR Canada Series and APC United Late Model Series. What has been your favorite track so far?
STECKLY: My favorite track is Canadian Tire Motorsports Park with the NASCAR Canada Series. It's one of the biggest tracks in Canada and is popular around the world for road racing. While I'm not necessarily a road racer, I've had a ton of fun racing there. The speeds on the track are unbelievable – we nearly reached 170 miles an hour on the track!
PENNZOIL: Is there a track you aspire to race at one day?
STECKLY: I'm a big NASCAR fan, and I've always watched the races at Bristol Motor Speedway. The high banks and half-mile track are cool, and I hope I get the chance to race there one day.
PENNZOIL: How does having Pennzoil under the hood impact your performance?
STECKLY: I’m honored to have the iconic Pennzoil logo on our car and Pennzoil Platinum® 5W-40 Euro Full Synthetic Motor Oil running in the engine. Without Pennzoil’s support, we wouldn't have the same performance and quality motor oil we experienced this past year.
PENNZOIL: What type of car do you drive, on and off the race track?
STECKLY: I drive a couple of different cars, but both are custom-built for racing and classified as Chevy Camaros. For racing, we use Pennzoil Platinum® 5W-40 Euro Full Synthetic Motor Oil in the engine and Pennzoil Platinum Gear 75W-90 in the transmission.
When I’m not racing, I drive a Chevy Silverado 1500, powered by Pennzoil Platinum® 0W-20 Full Synthetic Motor Oil.
PENNZOIL: How has your collaboration with Pennzoil impacted your career thus far?
STECKLY: Riding with Pennzoil is an honor. Seeing Pennzoil's support for race car drivers and fans rallying behind their favorite drivers in the Pennzoil family is inspiring. I’m proud to have Pennzoil on board, especially when I see fans expressing their affinity for the brand, sharing that they also use it in all their vehicles. Knowing that a partner of mine is trusted by so many people out there is a great feeling!
PENNZOIL: As the 2023 racing season wraps up, what are you most excited about in the upcoming 2024 season?
STECKLY: I'm looking forward to continuing to grow with this team since we had a lot of success in 2023. I believe there's room for improvement, and I'm excited to see the opportunities that 2024 will bring. I'm always looking forward to returning to the race track on Saturday nights and being part of the racing community.
One race I'm particularly excited about in the NASCAR Canada Series is the one on the dirt track at Ohsweken Speedway in Ontario. I had the chance to race there last year, and it was my first time on a dirt track. I'm hoping to go back in 2024 and aim for a victory. Finishing in second place this year was a fantastic experience, and I'm eager to compete again in 2024.
PENNZOIL: The new campaign from Pennzoil, Long May We Drive, celebrates car culture and the love of driving. What does Long May We Drive mean to you?
STECKLY: Racing and driving mean everything to me; it’s all I think about and consumes my daily life. With that, supporting “Long May We Drive” is unique because it celebrates everything I am passionate about.
Driving for me brings back so many nostalgic memories, especially with my family. One that stands out is when I was 10, my family embarked on a road trip to Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. That trip will always be a special memory since I remember the excitement of sitting in the back seat while my dad drove through the night, waiting to arrive at the race track. The entire weekend of racing was an unforgettable experience, and I will cherish that road trip for a lifetime.
PENNZOIL: Do you have any advice for aspiring race car drivers?
STECKLY: Get out on the track and talk to people! Your local tracks are filled with people willing to help and teach you the ins and outs of racing. Everyone's easy-going, and everyone in the sport loves seeing new people and faces in the industry!
I’m proud to share that we’re the 2023 champions and the APC United Late Model series. That achievement wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of APC Auto Parts Centres and Pennzoil. This series is arguably one of the most competitive in Ontario if not all of Canada, so securing this championship is a huge milestone that we achieved in 2023.