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Southern California

Hot Laps: Steven Clabaugh

Monday, January 30, 2017

Tell us about your racing background and how you came to race at the Lucas Oil Regional series:
I was born into a family of off-road racers and enthusiasts.  Although I didn't start racing until my late teens, my entire family had a tradition of going out to Ocotillo Wells multiple times a year since before I was born and it still continues today.

Although I didn't start racing until my late teens, my entire family had a tradition of going out to Ocotillo Wells multiple times a year since before I was born and it still continues today.  This is where I discovered my love of off-road and learned how to ride a dirt bike at a very young age.  I started racing dirt bikes locally at 15 and continued to race until I was 18 and had a devastating crash that caused multiple internal injuries.  After a long recovery from that crash, I knew I wouldn't be able to race dirt bikes anymore so I started building a 1400 truck to race.  It took about a year to build the truck to where I wanted it and at that point was when BLM started really cracking down on the desert racing scene.  I entered my first race and although I had a blast, I realized that it didn't seem like too much fun for my family who had to stay in the motorhome because of our young kids and only really saw me every hour when I passed the pits at 25mph.  Not long after that race I decided to come watch my friend race in the Lucas Oil Regional at Glen Helen.  I was hooked right away.  It was like a mix of my 2 favorite types of racing, motocross and desert.  I saw how much fun all the families were having in the stands, how laid back everyone was and how good everybody got along.  I knew this is what I wanted to do.  Shortly after that visit I sold my newly built 1400 truck and bought a used limited buggy, raced it for 2 partial seasons and had the greatest time I could remember in racing.   3/4 of the way through my 2nd season I had the opportunity to buy my friend’s pro buggy and haven't looked back since.  I will be going on my 3rd season as a pro buggy driver in 2017 and am not looking to stop anytime soon.

Family seems to play a big role on most regional teams and we see your family at the track with you at every round.  How important is your family to your success and what roles do each of them play on race weekends?
My family is amazing and has supported me in everything I do.  I got my older brother hooked and he now races in the limited buggy class.  My son and daughter have both practically grown up in the Lucas Regional series.  My son is finally old enough to race the JR1 class and will be racing his first full season in 2017 which I am both excited and nervous about.  My dad works tirelessly on all of our cars and we would all be hopeless without him.  He spends many long nights getting our cars ready for the races and does everything in his power to make sure we all have the best opportunities to perform to our fullest.  He is an amazing man and he inspires me to be a greater dad to my own children.  My Uncle Lonnie takes the time out of his busy schedule and comes to every race.  He helps us with prep, setup and is also the voice in my ear guiding me during the race and calming me down when the race isn't going as planned.  My poor mom raised 3 boys who all raced dirt bikes.  I can't imagine the stress that was continually circling through her mind but it never stopped her from coming to all my races and being my biggest fan.  She was always the first one to greet me coming off the track and telling me how proud she is of me no matter how I did in the race.  She makes sure we all stay positive and that we stay fed and hydrated on race weekends.  She will always have a smile and brighten up your day no matter how down you are feeling.  Last but certainly not least is my amazing wife who has been by my side through everything.  She has the hard and thankless job of trying to keep track of our crazy kids (including me) during race weekends.  She is always by my side supporting me no matter what I do and is the glue that holds our family together.  I'd also like to thank the Jacobus family, Drake family, Venegas family, and all our other friends that come out to help and support us

What is your advice to someone looking to start out in short course off road racing?
Get Involved.  If you have a friend who races in the series, come to their races and help them out as much as you can.  Ask as many questions as you can think of.  Figure out what your budget is and what class you are interested in.  Talk to people in that class and see what they think the pros and cons are of the class so you know what to expect.  If everything adds up and you’re still interested,  go get yourself a race car and come have the time of your life.

What is your favorite track and why?
Glen Helen because it’s a tight technical track and the racing is usually bumper to bumper.

When you're not at the track, what can we find you doing? 
I'm usually in the garage working on the buggy or trying to spend as much time with my kids as I can before they turn into teenagers and are too cool to hang out with me.

How much time/work goes into preparing for each race weekend?
If nothing went wrong the previous race it usually is only a weekend or two of going through the buggy and checking parts/fluids to make sure there won’t be any surprises for the next race and seeing if any changes need to be made.  If something did go wrong I could be living in the garage between races and letting the wife know she might need to start buying ramen noodles for a while.

What/who is your biggest challenge on the track?
The best part about the pro buggy class is that the competition is so close.  If you make a mistake you could lose 3 or more positions before you know it.  My biggest challenge has been trying to work all the kinks out of my buggy so we won’t have any issues during the races.  We are hoping that the 2017 season will be the year we have all the past issues figured out.  -We know it takes a lot of support to race.  Is there anyone you would like to thank for their support? We are mostly self-funded and are always looking for support from all the great companies that are involved in our sport but there are some people who helped me along the way that I would like to thank:  Of course my mom, dad and wife for all the help and support they have giving me through the years; My Uncle Lonnie for coming out and being part of the team; Nick Drake and Ryan Venegas for helping in the hot pits; Erik Jacobus for being the guy to introduce me to this race series; Mel at Circle Track Performance for all of his help; all the contingency sponsors that help out the little guys like me and all the Lucas Oil Crew and Safety Team for making an amazing place for us to go have fun.