Heidi Steele Named Dirt Sports’ 2008 Driver of the Year
Off-road champion Heidi Steele has made history…again. First, the Yokohama Tire Corporation-sponsored racer cemented herself in off-road history last year by being the first woman to win two major truck championships in one season – the Best in the Desert and SCORE. Now she’s been named Dirt Sports magazine’s 2008 Driver of the Year, becoming the first female to win the coveted award.
“This is a truly amazing and unforgettable feeling,” said Steele of San Clemente, California, who is married to off-road champion and TV commentator Cameron Steele. “To be recognized and honored with such a prestigious award among the many talented drivers in off-road racing is truly unbelievable. I am grateful that Dirt Sports has taken more and varied factors into consideration for the Driver of the Year award, including winning two championships in one year and the challenges of competing in a more limited class. This award gives hope and inspiration to so many drivers that you can be recognized for your racing abilities regardless of the class you may race in.”
Added Mark Chung, Yokohama Tire director, corporate strategy and planning: “Heidi is a phenomenal competitor who had an amazing year. The award is much deserved and well earned. Congratulations to her and her team. We’re proud to be associated with Heidi and Cameron and look forward to more championships and awards in 2009.”
For the past three years, Steele has successfully competed in the semi-limited mid-size truck class. She won the 2008 championships while driving on off-the-shelf Yokohama GEOLANDAR M/T+® tires and is on them again this season while competing in two classes. She recently moved up to the ultimate mid-size truck class, taking on new challenges and stiffer competition. Once again, Steele’s off to a great start, atop the standings in points in Classes 6 and 7.
According to Marty Fiolka, group editorial director, Ryan Communications Group (publishers of Dirt Sports), picking the Driver of the Year award was tough, but Heidi outdistanced the competition. “The process of selecting our Driver of the Year is a difficult one, as each season there is always so much great talent to choose from,” said Fiolka. “However, in light of her great and historic achievements during the 2008 season, it is an honor to bestow the award to Heidi. She is not only a champion driver, but an outstanding person that really represents the very best of the Dirt Sports Nation.”
Steele, who is also the vice president of human resources at Orange County, California-based AccentCare, began off-road racing in 2004 and has quickly made a name for herself in the male-dominated sport. She won three titles in the grueling terrain of Baja California, taking first place in her class at the Baja 1000 in 2005 and two first place titles in the Baja 500 in 2005 and 2008. In her first four years of racing, Steele also has won two SCORE championships and one Best in the Desert championship.