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BAJA’S TWO-WHEEL HEROES SCORE’s Greatest Motorcycle Racers Of All Time Part V – Steve Hengeveld By Mark Kariya Photos by Get Some Photo Steve Hengeveld’s accomplishments include an astounding 20 runs at the SCORE Baja 1000, including one in a SCORE Trophy Truck. Over the course of his career, his goal has always remained the same– to win. That fire coupled with immense talent and the good fortune to ride for some of the best teams, resulted in Hengeveld becoming one of desert racing’s motorcycle elite, earning eight SCORE Baja 1000 Overall motorcycle wins, seven Overall SCORE Baja 500 wins, and four Overall SCORE San Felipe 250 wins. However, what stands out most when it comes to Hengeveld, is his ability to ride as fast or faster than anyone else in the race after the sun goes down. “Riding at night didn’t intimidate me at all,” said Hengeveld. “My first actual night race was in 1995 at the SCORE Baja 1000. It went to La Paz then. I pre-ran my sections at night and thought, wow this is pretty cool! Ever since then, I was basically the night guy. When I rode in 1996, I rode all the night stuff. When they did loop races for the 1000, I always rode in the morning. I always started and rode the first couple hundred miles, then I’d get off and get back on when dark would hit. When it was a loop race like in ‘96, that’s what we did, and again in 1999. It’s something that suited me and it seemed like when all the other team’s speed averages would go down with the sun, ours would either go up or stay the same depending on the race. If you can gain a couple of miles an hour at night with your speed averages, then you pull away from the competition.” Hengelveld’s accomplishments began with many years of motorcycle racing when he was young. “I was first aware of the SCORE Baja 1000 when I was a kid riding motocross,” said Hengeveld. “We went over to one of my dad’s good friend's house and he was heading to the race with the late Al Baker of XR’s Only. He rode their second bike or something, and what intrigued me were his stories. Years went by, then I got the opportunity to race the 1000 in 1993 for Kawasaki, Team Green, on a 125 in Class 20. That’s how it all came about!” In the SCORE Baja 1000 alone, Hengeveld has raced it 20 times as he recalls. “Yeah, ‘93 was the 125 for Kawasaki, ‘94, ‘95 and ‘96 was a 250 for them in Class 21, 1999 was as a privateer on a 250cc Kawasaki team that I put together with Ensenada’s Beto Verber; it was a Mexican Motorola team. Then in 2000, I was with Honda all the way through 2007. In 2008 I drove a SCORE Trophy Truck for Toyota. In 2009 I did the first privateer Kawasaki deal when we brought the bike back to Baja in 2009. It was through two-time speedway world champion Bruce Penhall and longtime bike prep/suspension guru Bob Bell. In 2010 was the factory KTM team, but we broke. That was with Ivan Ramirez, me, and I think Kurt Caselli. I was way down south and the bike broke at, I want to say, Gonzaga or something. Then in 2011, I rode with THR Motorsports on a Kawasaki. 2012 was THR. 2013 was THR, then 2014 was when we won on the THR bike; it was a Kawasaki. I have eight overall wins, then I have three Class 21 wins, but they weren’t overalls.” Hengeveld has also earned recognition in racing the SCORE Baja 500. His first “500” was in 1995 with Kawasaki. He joined the Honda B team in 2000 and started the season off with a strong run at the SCORE San Felipe 250, nearly taking the win. At the SCORE Baja 500, he wanted to prove that San Felipe was no fluke. They were the second bike across the line but had enough on corrected time to take the win. His win in 2000 was followed by victories in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2007– all with Honda. In 2012, he, and fellow Honda rider Robby Bell, put together a Kawasaki team and raced the SCORE Baja 500 one more time. They recaptured the magic they had years ago with Team Green, earning another win, Steve’s 8th at the 500. Legendary racers that inspired Hengeveld included Ty Davis, Ted Hunnicutt, and Paul Krause. “Of course, the late Danny Hamel was just getting on board with Kawi, I think, a year or two before me,” said Hengeveld. “When I switched to off-road, those were the guys I kind of admired and looked up to and aspired to be like. My goal as a kid when I was 16, was that someday I want to be riding an open bike down here, going that fast!” Hengeveld laughed. Steve Hengeveld continues to race in Baja when he can, most recently in some SCORE Trophy Trucks, but his legacy as a top motorcycle competitor continues to inspire riders who now include him in that legendary status. SJ

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