Steven DeLonjay has reached the point in his career where, despite being only 22, he is no longer the The Kid with the great future. Five track championships, including three in a modified, will do that for — or to — a guy.
DeLonjay has, to some, evolved from The Kid to The Villain. Not necessarily your Tony Dunker type of villain, but a “bad guy” just the same. And he’s not quite sure how he got there. The son of Quincy Raceways Hall of Famer Hank DeLonjay has won so often in recent years he has become the driver fans of his challengers want to see lose the most. From Mark Burgtorf to Jeff Gordon, just about any racer with any amount of above-average success has experienced it. Some of the cheers eventually turn to boos — only to eventually reverse that pattern later in their careers.
Dunker’s black hat has been earned in part not only by his abundance of victories in the sport mods, but also by his willingness to take on his critics in different outlets — including this blog. DeLonjay’s black hat has also been earned in part through not only all of his victories, but a willingness to mix it up in the corners if the need arises. But where DeLonjay and Dunker differ is how they answer their critics. The Dunk relishes confrontations, while DeLonjay prefers to stay to himself.
DeLonjay, a senior at Western Illinois University studying to be a child psychologist, just shakes his head when asked why he has become such a lightning rod for controversy the past couple of seasons.
“Anyone who knows me knows I’m one of the most nonchalant guys around,” DeLonjay said.
Never once has he responded to his naysayers on this blog, and that probably won’t be changing.
“I’m just trying to keep my focus on winning races,” he said.
That’s probably bad news for the competition. It also probably means the black hat will continue to be attached to his racing helmet for a while longer.
Another item that won’t be changing is the presence of his dad in the pits.
“Dad is amazing,” Steven said. “He spends more man hours in the garage than I do. I can never thank him enough. He’s the one working on the car when I’m at school, he’s just amazing.”
Between father and son, the DeLonjays have won 18 track titles in four different classes.
Don’t be surprised if No. 19 comes this season when Steven goes for a fourth straight modified championship. The only other modified driver to turn that trick in the past 39 years of racing at 8000 Broadway is his dad.