Steve Clukey personifies the term “Hot Rodder.”
In a world of cookie-cutter dragsters and bracket cars Steve has continued to travel his own road to enjoyment and success in drag racing.
While serving our country in Vietnam Steve would send money home to his father towards the purchase of a 1970 Plymouth Duster. When his tour of duty was over, Steve headed back to the States and was looking forward to driving his new car for the first time. But he arrived home on a Friday night and the dealership was closed. Maine did not allow dealerships to open on weekends, so while the car was completely paid for, Steve would have to wait until Monday morning to take possession. He spent that first weekend home looking at his shiny new Duster through a fence in a locked yard.
From the very beginning, Steve had intended on drag racing the Duster. Steve was at the dragstrip with his new Plymouth within two short weeks. 2020 marks Steve’s 50th consecutive year of campaigning that same Duster.
In the early days, Steve would tow the car to work on Friday, put in a 12-hour day, and then make the three-hour drive to race at New England Dragway. He did this for many years, and when his son could accompany him, they would meet in the morning and drive to the track together.
Steve still races almost every points race at New England Dragway and the week before this ceremony he was the runner-up in the Super Pro category. In fact, we had to hold this ceremony between rounds because Steve is racing the Duster at today’s event.
Steve and the Duster are well known for their trademark wheelstands. And the Plymouth is kept in show-quality condition, earning him the IHRA Best Appearing Award at the 2004 North American Nationals.
The Duster has been equipped with a manual transmission that Steve has continued to shift for the past 50 years. However, it’s not the same transmission. Steve has managed to break a few of those and a rear-end or two over the years as he passed the grandstands with the wheels in the air.
In September of 2013, Steve called in sick to work so that he could race the Duster at the NHRA New England Hot Rod Reunion. Unfortunately, Steve’s son Chad wasn’t so sick and had to work. Chad managed to watch his father win the 2013 Inaugural NHRA Hot Rod Reunion from his computer.
In fact, videos of Steve’s car are easy to find on the internet. There is one video on the Yellow Bullet website has received nearly 1.8 million views.
Steve Clukey is a grassroots drag racer to his core. He has spent countless hours modifying his Duster every offseason so that he would be better prepared for the next year’s racing. In sickness and in health Steve has persevered for 50 years with his wheels in the air and his spirits high.
The Orientals Hot Rod Club is very pleased to recognize Steve Clukey as a 2020 New England Hot Rod Hall of Fame Inductee.