Two Firsts for a Woman in SCORE Baja Racing History
Heidi Steele's Toyota
Heidi Steele and team finish second at 41st annual SCORE Baja 1000 and she becomes first women to win a SCORE truck class championship
Steele will also be the first ever woman to receive the Toyota True Grit award for completing every SCORE race mile in 2008.
With the championship in view the Desert Assassins mid size truck team went to the 41st annual Baja 1000 with a plan, fight the battle but win the war.
The war was the class championship for modified mid size trucks known in Baja as class 7sx. The Lucas Oil/Yokohama Tire FORD Ranger team of Heidi Steele/Rene Brugger/Danny Street Jr. took the green flag with an 8-point lead in their class after recently winning the 40th annual SCORE Baja 500. They would work the plan to shadow their main competitor but still be aggressive enough to put them in position for the race win even though that was by far the less important of the goals to finish up the season.
In 2005 Heidi earned her first class championship after winning the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 in class with her team. That was her first year of racing and after winning handily out of the gate she felt the pain of learning a new class when she moved from buggies to the coveted truck classes. Her first full year in a truck was 2007 and although the team found the podium they were not winning which is always frustrating.
For 2008 Heidi’s husband Cameron, a 20 plus year veteran of Baja, decided she had learned enough and the team made the commitment to make their FORD Ranger as competitive as possible and put forth a complete effort in the goal of winning the SCORE Championship. SCORE is the organization that hosts premiere desert races in Mexico and the US including the granddaddy of all Off Road events the Baja 1000.
Timmy Lawrence of TLR Fabrication took the truck and converted much of it to winning standards. Tim also joined Heidi as a driver for the first two SCORE races of 2008. The Laughlin Desert Challenge was first where they not only won their class but also were the only truck to finish in a mud bog after torrential down pours the night before and during the event. Tim and Heidi would also battle the San Felipe 250 where the team missed the podium for the only time in 2008 by a mere few minutes.
Prior to the Baja 500 Heidi made an arrangement to race the remainder of 2008 with Baja native and one of the kingpins of West Racing Rene Brugger. Rene had raced with the team at the 2007 Baja 1000 and is one of the most respected drivers in the sport although he is the last to tout his skills.
The newly formed team that also featured navigators Alan Trimble and Danny Street Jr. would stomp all takers at the Baja 500. Rene would play the hero roll at the Baja 500 putting more than thirty minutes on the competition in the dreaded silt beds of Uruapan near the end of the race. Leading the points the team would again earn a podium finish at the SCORE Primm 300 in September.
While battling the formidable John Holmes in SCORE Heidi and team were also waging war this year with a whole other set of drivers in the Best In The Desert (BITD) series. Heidi and team had raced 8 races leading into the Baja 1000 and led the points in both major series with three wins, three podiums and only one non finish in their Lucas Oil/Yokohama Tire FORD Ranger.
A mere 30 miles from the finish of the Baja 1000 the team was just a few minutes out of the lead and a quick team discussion took place as the sun rose over Baja. With only minutes separating Heidi, Rene and Danny from the Baja 1000 win the radio conversation was clear that the goal was to win the championship and 2nd place at this Baja 1000 would lock it in.
Heidi and team would finish 2nd in the race and would not only win the championship but would be one of only 14 vehicles out of approximately 400 individual entries in the SCORE season to complete every mile of every race. Heidi will be the co-recipient of the Toyota Milestone award for drivers completing every mile of every SCORE race and she will be the first woman in history to do so.
The team will now wear the championship number in SCORE for 2009 but they are not done working for 2008. On Dec. 6th the team will face off for the points championship in BITD where they lead the points by 7 going into the last race of the year.
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