SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - December 2018

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

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The Man Of Steele Cameron Steele Finishes A Huge Season With The SCORE Trophy Truck Win At The 51st SCORE Baja 1000 By Dan Sanchez PHOTOS GETSOMEPHOTO The 2018 SCORE World Desert Challenge season was filled with ups and downs for veteran Baja racer Cameron Steele. It started with some disappointing finishes after leading the first two races and coming in second in San Felipe, and 20th at the SCORE Baja 500 with mechanical problems. It wasn’t until the third race of the season that the Desert Assassins got their momentum going with an overall win at the Lucerna Hotels & Resorts SCORE Desert Challenge and ultimately following it up by winning the SCORE Trophy Truck and Four-Wheel Overall at the 51st SCORE Baja 1000. For the 12-year racing veteran, this is the first SCORE Baja 1000 win for Steele in the SCORE Trophy Truck class. It was huge for him but very different from others he’s raced in the past. At last year’s 50th Anniversary SCORE Baja 1000 race, he led most of the race, only to finish in second place. According to Steele, he and his team approached this year’s race with an entirely different attitude that was evident during the qualifying event in Las Vegas. “We went into qualifying kind of half-stepping it,” said Steele. “I didn’t put my whole heart into it and we went hoping to get a starting position somewhere in the fifth to ninth place. We ended up 12th. Not in as good as a position that we wanted to be, but I wasn’t worried about it.” Steele’s calmness and no-worry attitude about the SCORE Baja 1000, or any of the difficult logistics of it for that matter, might have seemed concerning to his Desert Assassins team. But according to the veteran racer, it was all part of a team-wide “feeling” they had approaching this particular race. “On race day, I wasn’t worried about anything,” said Steele. “It was just like a crazy calm. The day before the race we didn’t pre-run, we didn’t have a team meeting; we didn’t do anything. We were just ready. From the time we woke up on Thursday until we finished the race, I didn’t have one worry at all, no matter what happened.” As any SCORE Trophy Truck racer would tell you, it doesn’t matter if you’re worried, relaxed, or have the best race vehicle, the race never goes according to plan. Nonetheless, Steele and his team seemed unfazed at whatever Baja threw at them from the race start to the checkered flag. “We started at a good pace and then we ended up getting passed by Apdaly Lopez. That normally that would ruffle us up a bit, but I just pulled over and let him pass me,” said Steele. Baja and the race weren’t done with the number 16 Trophy Truck yet, however, as there were more problems facing the team, including loosing first and reverse gears in the transmission. Despite all that, it wasn’t enough to shake-up the calmness Steele and the team experienced during the race. “We just didn’t worry about it,” said Steele. “It was just like this crazy calm feeling we had all day. I didn’t know if it was because we were really ready, especially after knowing we finished second at last year’s race, or if it had something to do with my dad’s ashes riding behind me behind the seat.” Steele’s father Mark Steele passed away in July of this year. “This was the first time I felt like all these things just don’t matter. We were just going to race, do our thing, and it was all going to come together,” said Steele. Eventually, the race did come together for him and the Desert Assassins team. “No matter what happened, from the time we got into the race car to the time we finished, there was never any doubt that we were not going to win that race,” said Steele. That plan, he revealed, was to stay with the group leaders and be in a good position to pass the leader when the opportunity arose. But as the race progressed, Steele says they got caught up in some dust with four trucks ahead of them which slowed them down. “At that point, Apdaly was charging really hard and eventually passed us,” said Steele. “But our plan was not to sweat it, and not to hurt the truck.” Steele and team would later catch up to the leaders by San Matias, then passing Apdaly by Checkpoint 1 near San Felipe. “We pounded a rock and got a flat, but it was no stress,” said Steele. “We kept doing what we needed to do and by the time we got through the Gonzaga section, our guys said we were right on time.” Steele had then handed over the truck to Pat Dean and Shane Robinson, who got into the truck and had a GPS problem arise. “They went old-school and really nailed it,” said Steele. In fact, they moved us up from sixth, our time, to third on the road according to our team's timing.” After Dean and Robinson did their section of the course, Steele got back in the truck and according to him, put down some good time on the course. “I felt totally confident,” he said. “We were just efficient and never worried about the other racers, including Rob MacCachren who finished before us. We crossed the finish line and the vibe of winning the race was all around us. It was pretty emotional for me with my dad’s ashes.” For Steele, it was the race of a lifetime, winning in front of friends, family and the people of Baja who he has had a great love for, and who have in turn supported him throughout his racing career. “It was just an honor to do it in front of the people of Baja who have shown us so much hospitality, friendship, and gratitude,” said Steele. “To be able to validate everyone that has been a part of our race over the last 12 years; those that gave so much time, the sponsors, and the people that gave so much time along the way. I could feel the virtual high-five from everyone. It was an experience I won’t soon forget. It’s a very special thing for our entire family and our team.” SJ

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