Did we mention he’s running five classes this week at King of the Hammers?
“One that I’m really looking forward to is the UTV Rock Race. Practically everyone Monster Energy backs in the off-road racing world is going to compete,” said Steele, who’ll be at the wheel of a custom Alsup Racing Development Can-Am UTV that he qualified in 18th position (out of 111 racers). “It’s not my forte for sure (UTV racing), but it’s going to be a heck of a lot of fun. The Greaves’, Johnny and CJ, are in from Wisconsin, Shannon Campbell (multi-time KOH overall winner) is running it, Casey Currie, McGrath, and Brian Deegan. We’re going to have a blast.”
Who is Steele calling in the McGrath vs. Deegan KOH UTV battle? “I think McGrath. He’s got two years of experience and this is Brian’s first year (racing UTVs). But knowing Brian you can’t count him out either.”
Following the UTV fun, Steele will get serious about chasing the KOH’s 'Every Man Challenge' event. One shock (absorber) and stock 37-inch DOT tires. It’s kind of like the old IROC (International Race of Champions) deal that levels the playing field, vehicle-wise, and showcases the drivers’ skills over the brute force and raw power in the KOH’s Unlimited 4400 class.
His Baja Mexico experience certainly awards Steele an advantage in the desert portion of the races at KOH. But it’s two worlds that he’s racing, one which is considerably more foreign to him. And that’s when the action hits what are simply known as the 'Rocks.'
“We’ve had pretty good success at King of the Hammers. We just haven’t completed the mission,” said Steele. “The main difference between Baja and King of the Hammers is that Baja’s a more traditional course. Here (at KOH) you have to plan for more of the unexpected – meaning the rocks. Even your primary line, one which you’re completely confident running, can get plugged up (with stopped competitors/vehicles). So wheel placement is maybe more key in King of the Hammers than it is at Baja. The rocks are a thinking man’s game.”
Steele added, in a final statement on comparing Baja and KOH: “Racing Baja there can be a lot more failures, parts ripped off. But you can still finish the race. At KOH the destruction is more final.”
All week long at King of the Hammers, Steele will be part of a Monster Energy team that has as much fun at these events as you could imagine. “We all have different disciplines here, but everyone comes together and makes it real interesting,” said Steele of his fellow Monster Energy competitors. “We for sure have a lot of fun, there’s a lot of personalities for so many different walks of racing. But don’t think for a second we all don’t want to beat each other and hold onto those bragging rights for the next year.”
The final bragging rights Steele would like nothing better to secure is the premier 4400 Unlimited class race, the Nitto Race of Kings, presented by Optima Batteries, which crowns the King of Kings at KOH and bestows upon that racer the Scepter trophy – which has unfortunately evaded Steele on two occasions.
“The whole week leads up to the 4400 race,” said Steele. “We’re one of the few trucks running independent suspension both in front (IFS) and rear (IRS). So technically, it’s a little bit more fragile. But I also think it can give us a bit of an advantage.”
“We haven’t finished the 4400. But we’ve led twice, late in the race. So we’re hoping this year we can complete the mission.”