Steve Cantrell, who in his brief time on this earth, won races as a driver and tuned his family dragster to a NED title in 2010, passed away Monday December 26 after a brief battle with cancer.
Steve was diagnosed with the disease only a few months ago and although Steve is known as a strong guy, he could not defeat the inevitable.
Steve drove the Cantrell Bros dragster from 1979 until 2004 deciding to vacate the driver’s seat in 2005. After hanging up his driving gloves, Steve started his second drag racing career as a tuner. With his brothers Kevin and Joe, the Delaware team took things to the next level as the Cantrells became a major force in Division One TAD.
As crew chief, Steve tuned the Cantrell Auto Glass blown dragster to numerous wins in the NED with at first, Dave DeAngelis behind the wheel, and later Darren Nicholson, Mike Comella, and Richard Bourke driving.
Nicholson, from Mission Viejo CA, won the Northeast Division 2010 TAD title in 2010 due in large part to the expertise of Cantrell. In a world of A/FDs dominating the NHRA TAD scene, Cantrell routinely put the blown dragster deep in the field and was one of the few blown cars to run in the 5.20′s. Steve was rewarded for his ability to get the dragster from point A to B with the 2010 NED Wrench of the Year award.
As a driver Steve had numerous Top Ten finishes and won the 2004 Lucas Oil divisional at Maple Grove.
In addition to being one of the best in the business, Steve was also famous for his big heart and ability to make friends either on or off the track. As a writer and photojournalist, rarely did I visit the Cantrell pits at the races and not be invited in for a cold drink or a sandwich.
Below is the official obituary for Steve.
Steven E. Cantrell, age 52, of Wilmington, DE went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, December 26, 2011.
Steve had a passion for drag racing since he was a young boy. He was a part of the family racing team that his father started in 1955. He then became the driver of the car from 1980-2005. After retiring from driving Steve went on to help the team win both the NHRA Division Championship in 2010 and the Mechanic of the Year Award for Cantrell Brothers Racing Team. He was n avid Flyers fan and enjoyed professional football. Steve was very generous and had a heart of gold.
Steve is survived by his son, Steven Dougherty; brothers, Joe Cantrell, and Kevin Cantrell and wife Lisa; sister, Donna Marie Cella; mother, Rose Marie Cantrell; and a host of loving nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph Cantrell Sr.; and his sister, Carla Ann Kanich.
A visitation for family and friends will be held on Thursday, December 29, in Strano & Feeley Family Funeral Home, 635 Churchmans Road, Newark, DE 19702 from 1:30-3:30 pm followed by a service in celebration of Steve’s life at 3:30 pm. Burial will be private. The family suggests memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society , 92 Reads Way, Suite 205, New Castle, DE 19720. For directions and to express an online condolence, visit www.strano-feeley.com