Vice President of Nationwide Series Operations
Steve deSouza has been Vice President of Nationwide Series Operations at Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) since 1998.
Over that time JGR’s Nationwide Series operations has grown to include three teams, while the driver development program has flourished under deSouza’s watchful eye. He continues to identify many of the sports’ talented young drivers, like Darrell Wallace Jr., who, in 2013, became the first African-American to win a national NASCAR series race in 50 years.
Joe Gibbs has often remarked that while getting to the top in any sport is extremely difficult, remaining a champion is even harder. Winning three consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series Championships from 2008-2010 was no easy feat, but deSouza is working hard to continue to build off all of JGR’s successes in the coming season.
deSouza is no stranger to success, having established himself as one of the world’s best known names in powerboat racing following a 30-year career in the sport piloting outboard F-1 tunnel boats. Over his career he held six national championships, nine regional titles, two world speed records, was a member of the 1986 International Outboard Grand Prix World Championship Team, and twice was nominated to the American Powerboat Association Hall of Champions. He also completed one season victorious in 30 of 32 events.
The Seattle native not only built successful racing programs but also was involved in business ventures that assisted in funding those racing programs. Among them a niche office equipment business that was taken out of bankruptcy and grew to became the largest independent mail and shipping room equipment vendor in the state of Washington.
Those early business ventures would provide invaluable experience for deSouza in his current role, as would his experience in building sponsorship programs to support his racing. After two years of pitching sponsorship proposals, Interstate Batteries agreed to sponsor deSouza’s F-1 team, ultimately thanks to deSouza’s ability to help Interstate land a huge marine account. That was the beginning of a great relationship that continues today. That relationship also introduced deSouza to the Gibbs family after Interstate Batteries made the decision to sponsor JGR’s first Sprint Cup Series team. From that point, the relationship with the Gibbs and others at JGR took a course of its own, growing into personal friendships over the next several years.
In 1994, when his younger sister was in need of a kidney donor, deSouza’s world changed. He didn’t hesitate to donate one of his own kidneys, even at the expense of his career as a powerboat racer. Advised by doctors to leave the cockpit for good, deSouza moved forward at an equally aggressive and successful pace in the business arena.
A new opportunity arose when he accepted the challenge of developing a Nationwide Series race team for Bill Amick’s son Lyndon, who was moving up from the NASCAR Dash Series. deSouza’s first action was to pay a visit to his friends at JGR to learn as much about NASCAR as he could.
deSouza would join JGR a few years later following a stint at then Progressive Motorsports. JGR had taken over Bobby Labonte’s Nationwide Series team and had made the decision to expand, tabbing deSouza with the task of growing the program. That didn’t take long as deSouza’s neighbor and friend, Gary Bechtel, called in hopes of speaking with him about managing his race team—Diamond Ridge Motorsports. With deSouza already committed to JGR, Bechtel instead asked for help to explore other options. Just a few weeks later JGR struck a deal to acquire Diamond Ridge Motorsports and became a multi-car team in the Nationwide Series.
deSouza lives in Concord, NC with his wife Missy, who also works in the racing community with Motor Racing Outreach, and their two children.