Off-road racing has a rich history, and so does the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. In 1967, Ed Pearlman formed the first recognized sanctioning body dedicated to exclusively to off-road racing – The National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA). The inaugural event produced by NORRA was the Mexican 1000 – soon to become the legendary Baja 1000.
After Pearlman stepped back from the role of off-road racing promotion, he dedicated his energy to recognizing and honoring those who had greatly contributed to the sport. In January 1978 at the annual Off-Road Equipment Association (OREA) banquet, he inducted the first 16-members which included Parnelli Jones, Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Don Francisco. Pearlman introduced a second group of five inductees in 1980. Despite Pearlman’s noble attempts to properly honor the sport and its inductees, he was unsuccessful in finding a credible permanent home for ORMHOF.
Enter Rod Hall – In 1995, racing legend Rod Hall acquired the remaining assets and name rights of NORRA. Sifting through the boxes containing Pearlman’s records, and the memorabilia accumulated over the nearly thirty years since NORRA was formed; he came across the remnants of Pearlman’s efforts to establish an Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Hall, intrigued by the historical significance of such a find, set out to bring Pearlman’s vision to reality. Hall brought the concept to Gordon Horsley – board member of the National Automobile Museum, the Harrah Collection (NAM). A residence within the NAM emerged, and a strong board of directors and advisors was assembled with a clear mission resulting in the permanent credible home for ORMHOF that Pearlman dreamed of in 1978.
Today a committee comprised of fifteen independent members of the off-road community and five members of the Off-Road Hall of Fame Board of Directors annually vote on new inductees nominated by members of the off-road community. The categories for induction are as follows:
Competition Category: Includes Motorcycles and ATV’s, Off-Road Racing, Rally, Rock Crawling and Sand Sports
Recreation Category: Includes Four Wheeling, Motorcycles and ATV’s
Pioneer Category: Includes Advocate, Industry, and Journalism
All of the nominees must have had at least fifteen years experience and involvement in Off-Road Motorsports. The nominees must have built, designed, driven, maintained, owned, prepared, piloted, promoted, ridden or supported an off-road vehicle. They are characterized by their desire to win, the mastery of their field and their courage to innovate. Each of the inductees has made a significant contribution to Off-Road Motorsports in at least one of the following aspects: Business, History, Design, Engineering, Prestige of the Sport, and/or Growth of the Sport.