By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
BLOOMSBURG -- From the time he was 7, Bloomsburg resident Derek Steward can remember going to the race track.
The first-year 358 sprint car driver at Selinsgrove Speedway wasn't watching the likes of Barry Camp or Jim Nace do battle, rather, he was on the road with his cousin, Jason Kemp, helping him at Greenwood Valley Action Track and Linda's Speedway.
"My mom and dad (Denny and Daneen Steward) had gone to Selinsgrove quite a bit when they were younger," he said. "When my cousin Jason started racing micro sprints, it was at an age where I would like to have gone to Selinsgrove, but we were working on his car."
Steward, 24, is a construction inspector who received his associate degree in civil engineering from the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport. He graduated from Bloomsburg Christian High School where he played soccer.
When he turned 12, Steward started racing go-karts and, in 2005, he was the adult caged champion at Greenwood Valley.
"When we raced at Selinsgrove Raceway Park, we would sit there and say, 'it would be pretty cool to race on the big track one day, but it probably would never happen,'" he said.
Steward's go-kart career took him on a traveling schedule that included racing with the Pennsylvania Dirt Karting Association series, the Burris money series and on asphalt in New York state.
"I never raced a micro sprint," he said.
In the fall of 2011, Derek's brother Devin, who is two-and-half years younger, decided to quit go-kart racing.
"One day he approached us about getting into sprint car racing," Steward said.
Through the help of some friends, including fellow Bloomsburg 358 sprint car driver Ryan Kissinger and Midway Performance in Mount Carmel, they bought a 305 sprint car and raced with the PA Sprint Series.