The Desert Assassins claim multiple SCORE titles and Baja 1000 victories – Heidi Steele claims her 4th championship and 2nd Baja 1000 win.
The most prominent race on the off-road racing calendar and the longest continuous desert race in the world took place this past Friday the 20th of November 2009. Each year SCORE International hosts the Grand Daddy of all off-road competitions on the Baja Peninsula and the Desert Assassins fielded six teams, four of them with a chance at individual class championships.
In the premiere desert racing class, SCORE Trophy Truck, Cameron Steele and Rick Geiser in the Yokohama Tire/Lucas Oil #16 would enter the race top five in the points. Starting 14th with Cameron driving they had to battle fierce dust but were in the top three on adjusted time at the first couple independent timing points. They ran in the lead group until mile 325 when a steering belt issue put them back 45 minutes. Rick took over the truck at mile 405 in the top seven positions but a collision with another vehicle on the Mike’s Sky Ranch loop set the team back. Rick suffered a concussion and had to limp 35 miles to the next location where Cameron took back over the truck. Rick suffered from dizzy spells and nausea. They finished 8th in class and 11th overall in the 42nd annual running of the race.
The big news was the Yokohama Tire/Lucas Oil/Camburg Engineering Class 6 Ford Ranger truck effort of Heidi Steele/Rene Brugger/Jamie Campbell where they not only won the Baja 1000 but also claimed their class championship. Mid way through the season Heidi had Jamie Campbell build a new Class 6 truck for her team. With the new truck complete and the team for the Baja 1000 set they just missed out on clinching the SCORE title a race early at the Primm 300. Heidi started the 1000 and drove over the legendary summit and through the Laguna Salada silt beds before handing the truck to Jamie in second in position. Jamie who is the 1997 overall bike winner at the SCORE San Felipe 250 took on the very rough San Felipe section which seemed only fitting. Then Rene, who is in his third year of driving with Heidi, battled through the rest of the night and into the next day. Jamie had a terrific battle moving from 2nd to 1st and back to 2nd position when an alternator problem cost some time. In the Urapan section Rene closed on the 1st place Class 6 truck that eventually broke after battling for the lead for more than 100 miles through San Vicente, Erendira and Santo Tomas. In the end Jamie and Rene earned their 1st Baja 1000 wins behind the wheel and Heidi took her second adding to her 2005 Baja 1000 win in sportsman buggy.
DA Kingpin Brian “Cheater” Burgess drove with Brent Parkhouse in the SCORE Lite buggy class and like Heidi won the race and the championship. Brian won the 2006 SCORE 1600 title and in 2007 beat testicular cancer and is back racing and winning in the desert. Brian is an OG member of the Desert Assassins and represents the family regardless of what vehicle or class he races.
On the Desert Assassins youth gone wild front young guns Justin “Bean” Smith and Colton Udall had shots at their respective buggy and bike titles going into the Baja 1000.
Bean came to Baja tied in the class 1600 points in the buggy that he builds and preps in his own shop. He had a flawless run to mile 345 where he had a 24-minute lead but a suspension problem put him down for a long time. While waiting for parts most of the top 10 in his class got by him. In true DA style Justin never surrendered and battled back with driving partner Andy Devercelly to finish 6th in the race and 3rd in the final class points unofficially. Bean ended the season with two class wins and is one of three people on the SCORE final ballot for Mechanic of the year.
Moto rider Colton Udall is now the rider of record for the 2nd factory Honda/Johnny Campbell racing team effort but cut his teeth in Baja as part of the DA Open Pro bike team. He along with Jeff “OX” Kargola were tied for second in points coming into the 1000 but OX crashed and needed to be evacuated by air out of Mexico prior to the race. Johnny Campbell, older brother to Heidi’s driving partner and an 11 time Baja 1000 overall winner, choose two other DA graduates to fill the spot left by OX in Max and Matt Eddy. The team ran near the front all day and in the end finished on the podium in the race and unofficially 2nd in the SCORE open pro bike points.
The one DA team that had a tough day at the Baja 1000 were Josh Daniel and Adam Ashcraft in the unlimited buggy, Class 1. Both drivers represent the values of what the DA is all about and have been winners in their respected racing efforts and teamed up for the first time this Baja 1000. It started tough and got worse as they had to replace a steering rack and an alternator in the first two hundred miles. After being hours down they continued only to have suspension issues that forced them out of the race at mile 345.
In all it was another great year for the Desert Assassins and their effort to win championships, races and spread their brand of fun in the circles of racing, TV and web.
The entire Desert Assassins team is supported by Yokohama Tire Corporation and supported by their race service provider Trackside Performance.
The Trophy Truck and Class 6 teams would like to thank Yokohama Tire Corporation, Lucas Oil Products, American Racing Wheels ATX Series, Trackside Performance, FOX Racing Shox, KC HiLiTES, Currie Enterprises, OC Motorsports, MasterCraft Seats, Patrick’s High Performance Graphix, Ron Davis Radiators, Alpinestars, Motive Gear, UNI Filter, VP Fuels, Prime Fabrication, Geiser Bros and Blue C Communications.
Cameron would like to additionally thank Monster Energy Drink, Ready Lift, and Metal Mulisha. Special thanks to Jamie Campbell and Jeff Laubscher and their families for allowing them to time to make the #16 the best it has ever been.
The class six team would also like to thank Camburg Engineering, Fiberwerx and JBA headers. We recently rebuilt Heidi’s Class 6 truck. The mechanical part of her suspension is available off the shelf from Camburg Engineering and it rocks!
The Baja 1000 will air on NBC Dec 19th, check your local listings. Photo courtesy of High-Rev all rights reserved.