As a member of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, Steve Oldford has been designated to represent the USA in a friendship competition in Taranto, Italy in late July. Oldford will be in Italy's most southern city in the province of Puglia from July 27 through Aug.1 and will compete in the Magna Grecia, an harness racing annual event held at Ippodromo Paolo Sesto where the USA will be seeking its first victory.
Not surprisingly, for the past two years NAADA president , Joe Faraldo, came up empty as did the Rucker sisters, Jamie and Kelly, a few years prior to that.
Amateur drivers from ten different countries will participate In the Friendship Challenge on July 29th .
Countries participating include Sweden, Spain, Hungary, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, France, Holland, Malta and the USA.
Some might say that Oldford began his amateur driving late in life though he quips; "you're never too old to get involved in such a satisfying endeavor". It wasn't until 2006 that he earnestly began serious participation in amateur racing. However, since then he has recorded 50 driving victories and is a force to be reckoned with every time he's on the racetrack.
This year Oldford is the current point leader in the Midwest Region and leads the combined points category of the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Championship and last year he won the combined points championship as well as the Midwest Regions point title.
At the Hall of Fame Banquet in Goshen, NY on July 3rd, Steve was the recipient of the Harness Racing Museum's Amateur Driver of the Year Award.
Oldford is from Croswell, Michigan and like his dad, Gene, has been in the business for years. Their Oldford stable has been a staple in the Wolverine State through both good and lean years.
When he wings his way to Italy later this month Oldford will bring his entire brood and he has plans of stopping off in Rome and Naples prior to the main event at Taranto.
He swears he'll "bone up on his Italian and train on pasta" which sounds like as good as any regiment that anyone can devise for an event which is as social as it is racing.
Joe Faraldo, who's been there before, gave Oldford some idea of what to expect in Taranto.
"The heat can be extreme and racing usually starts at 8:00pm," Faraldo told Oldford." Dinner usually comes by midnight as the Italians have parades and special events and celebrities entertain the fans and mix in some quality amateur and professional races during the daily racing programs.
"Oldford's dad Gene serves as president of the Harness Horsemen's International and toils endlessly for Michigan's harness horsemen.