CHARLOTTE, NC --- Take a look around the office of Steve De Souza, Vice President of Busch and Truck Operations for Joe Gibbs Racing. The walls are filled with pictures of the Busch and Truck Series teams operated by Joe Gibbs Racing. Off...
CHARLOTTE, NC --- Take a look around the office of Steve De Souza, Vice President of Busch and Truck Operations for Joe Gibbs Racing. The walls are filled with pictures of the Busch and Truck Series teams operated by Joe Gibbs Racing. Off to the side you notice a couple of pictures of Formula One Powerboats flashing across the water. Inside those boats, Steve De Souza, a four time World Champion and six time National Champion. De Souza is no stranger to the feel of speed, noted as the fastest accelerating and turning boats in the world, F-1 boats will pull up to 4 G's in the corners with speeds up to 140 mph.
Before entering the NASCAR field as the General Manager for Amick Motorsports, De Souza spent most of his life around the water. As a child growing up in the Seattle, Washington area, his father was in the tug boat business. De Souza became interested in boat racing at the age of 9 years old, even having his own boat before his 14th birthday. What first began as a hobby quickly turned into a profession as De Souza began entering races in the Seattle area. After achieving success locally and regionally, De Souza turned his attention to racing nationally and Internationally. De Souza's long time primary sponsors was Interstate Batteries, the same corporation that sponsors the # 18 Winston Cup car owned by Joe Gibbs. The association with Interstate Batteries led to a relationship with Joe Gibbs. Tens years later that relationship would come back into play in the mid-nineties. For the time being, De Souza continued on winning powerboat races across the country and world.
With factory support from Mercury Outboards, De Souza soon became a major player in the Formula One powerboat world, winning the World Championship four times. Along the way, De Souza set two world speed records. Among his most memorable moments, De Souza lists a season that included 30 wins out of 32 starts with a win in Augusta, GA at the top. In front of a large group of family and friends, De Souza set a qualifying record and dominated a weekend of racing just after the death of his sister. The emotional victory was one he will always remember.
In 1995 De Souza donated a kidney to his younger sister which ended his driving career. In 1996 De Souza made a career change to the world of NASCAR racing. After spending two years building the Busch Series team for Amick Motorsports, De Souza moved on to Progressive Motorsports as a Managing Partner. De Souza was an intricate part that led the building of a one-car team into the top two-car operation in the NASCAR Busch Series with drivers Jeff Green and Jason Keller.
In the summer of 1999, an offer came his way that was hard to pass up. Joe Gibbs Racing was purchasing the former Diamond Ridge Racing operation and Joe Gibbs needed a veteran racer and businessman to run the organization. De Souza was the choice of Gibbs and quickly went to work building the team into a top-level organization. With driver Mike McLaughlin on board this year, the team stands in seventh place in the point standings and visited victory lane earlier this year in Talladega, Alabama.
De Souza has applied many of the same principles he used in Powerboat racing to achieve success in NASCAR.
"Motorsports is a people business, whether you are racing boats or cars, you have to have a group of people totally committed to the same goals of excellence, to invest the time and focus needed to succeed" De Souza said.
Despite the success of the Busch and Truck Series teams this season, De Souza knows there is a lot of work still to be done.
"Our goal at Joe Gibbs Racing is to position our teams to win races and Championships. We still have some work to do to get to that point," De Souza said. ""We are proud of the people we have involved in our organization. We realize our weaknesses and strengths and will continue to work and improve with each race."
In addition to managing the Busch and Truck Series teams De Souza and others at Joe Gibbs Racing are working hard to find a sponsor for their second Busch Series team. The team operated for the first half of the season before being forced to the sidelines due to a lack of sponsorship. The team recorded many strong runs including a second place finish at the California Speedway.
"We are working real hard to find sponsorship for the # 20 team," De Souza said. "I believe the Joe Gibbs Racing organization has a great opportunity available for a potential sponsor, a team capable of running up front and winning races."
As the hard work continues at Joe Gibbs Racing, Steve De Souza will keep working away to achieve the same level of success in auto racing that he found in Powerboat racing. He may not know the feel of a loose racecar at 180mph, but somewhere he can relate it to zooming across a lake at 140 mph.
De Souza and the # 18 MBNA Racing Team will head to Bristol Motor Speedway for racing action on Friday night at 8:00pm