SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - October 2018

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Perseverance Cameron Steele and the Desert Assassins win big at the Lucerna Hotels & Resorts Tijuana 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo It seems rather odd that Cameron Steele would be celebrating his first SCORE Trophy Truck win after approximately 11 years of racing in the class. Either he’s the most unlucky guy in the history of Baja racing, or the one with the biggest heart and perseverance that the sport has ever seen. We tend to think the latter, and so does the off-road motorsports community. It was one of the reasons why it was such a big celebration for Steele at this year’s Lucerna Hotels & Resorts Tijuana 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge, where he won the Overall and first place in the SCORE Trophy Truck division. Needless to say, it was a long time coming for a veteran racer who started 2018 with a second place finish at the SCORE San Felipe 250 in April, after he had been leading most of the race. The ups and downs continued in July, beginning with a discouraging 20th place finish at the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 with mechanical trouble. In the same month, Steele lost his father Mark Steele, followed by the announcement that Cameron was being inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. “That was kind of surreal to me,” said Steele. “Being put on sort of a pedestal is kind of uncomfortable and I had a hard time embracing the Hall of Fame announcement, especially when it was the same day that my dad died.” After some recovery time with family, Steele got back to business and made improvements in the race management within his team, The Desert Assassins. The result, Steele got a well-deserved win in Tijuana. “There was a lot of emotion that came with winning the race,” said Steele. “Some of the people we wish were present are no longer with us, including dad, mom, and Ox.” Steele refers to his friend and pro motorcycle champion Jeff “Ox” Kargola. “But this is what we came to do,” he says. “The win here in Tijuana isn’t surprising as much as it is gratifying. There’s a whole other part of me that is saying, dang this is awesome!” While the race is what it is, Steele is hoping to carry the momentum forward to the real prize that he has been seeking all this time, a win at the 51st SCORE Baja 1000. “The Tijuana win was on our Baja 500 vehicle prep,” said Steele. “We did a 200-mile durability test and we smashed through the ‘whoops’ sections. Rene Brugger is responsible for this, and he’s the best prep in the business. He gave up his racing career to build trucks for us.” According to Steele, Brugger raced with Steele’s wife Heidi since 2012 and is a four-time SCORE Baja 1000 class champion. Heidi Steele is also a dominant name in off-road racing, amassing several SCORE class championships and championships in other race venues. “Heidi is a huge part of our the team and handles all of our sponsorship,” says Steele. “She’s been so gracious to step back from her racing career and allowing the team to focus on our SCORE Trophy Truck effort. It’s made a huge difference.” There’s definitely momentum within the Desert Assassins team and Steele is putting out a greater effort to carry that to his first SCORE Baja 1000 win. “For the SCORE Baja 1000, we’re all put a ten percent greater effort,” says Steele. “We’re asking the team to come up with ideas and solutions. Winning comes down to race engineering and if you can engineer a good race, you have a better chance. For the SCORE Baja 1000, you have to engineer the race crew, staff, and the entire organization. It’s an unbelievable undertaking. The driver is really a small portion of what it takes.” While Steele’s fans are celebrating his win in Tijuana, they are also looking forward to him winning in Ensenada this November. Many of the Desert Assassin’s fans are happy Steele has remained racing in Baja for such a long time. But for Steele, the reasons for his perseverance is much different. “I’ve stayed in it for the long haul simply because of everyone else’s commitment,” says Steele. “I don’t give up because everyone else believes you can win. For me, it’s just all about racing in this magical place and the sport of Baja racing. Being at one with nature and you get to go 130 miles-per-hour…we call it work.”

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