Author Archives: Barbara Rainey

Tom White

Tom White – ORMHOF Class of 2020

Tom was raised near the ocean in Huntington Beach, California, where he grew up surfing before discovering his life-long passion: Motorcycles.

Tom soon found his niche in flat track racing, eventually earning national number 80 as a professional. But his day job was fixing motocross bikes for a shop in Orange County, California. In time he developed ideas about specialty parts that he and his brother Dan, with help from their father, turned into a thriving business.

Tom White on the number 80 at Golden Gate Fields in 1974.

In 1976, White founded Tom White’s Cycle Specialties, which would later become White Brothers Cycle Specialties, when Tom partnered with his twin brother, Dan.

Tom White at the Ascot TT Nationals in 1975.

Over the next 25 years, White Brothers would grow into a highly successful company, with sales of $40 million a year and nearly 200 employees. In addition, Tom also created the World Vet MX Championship and the World Four-Stroke Championship.

White Brothers Cycle Specialties.

Collecting motorcycles was, at first, Tom’s son Brad’s idea. 1984, the 6-year-old saw a rusty 1965 Greeves 250 Challenger motocross bike at a race event and said, “Dad! We should buy this and fix it up!” Tom and Brad purchased the Greeves, and their motorcycle collection grew over the years.

Tom bought this Russian-made Ural sidecar to that he could take his paralyzed son Brad riding with him.

Tragically, Brad was seriously injured in a near-fatal accident when he was 18, leaving him blind, unable to speak, and paralyzed. Tom sold nearly all of the motorcycles in the collection to help provide care for his son. He couldn’t bring himself to sell the Greeves.

In 2000, Tom sold the assets of White Brothers and began rebuilding his motorcycle collection in earnest, collecting more than 170 motorcycles over the next decade. He narrowed his focus to restoring and collecting vintage motocross bikes, eventually establishing Tom White’s Early Years of Motocross Museum. While not open to the public, the museum plays host to fundraising events, including an annual “Bikes & Burgers” fundraiser for the High Hopes Head Injury Program that helped Tom’s son Brad in so many ways.

Tom White getting ready for a photo shoot in his Early Days of Motocross Museum.

Tom would always tell his wife, Dani, with a wink, “The most I ever paid for a motorcycle is $150.” Of special interest is Tom’s collection of 11 Husqvarna’s that include the 500cc Baja Invader (1 of 3 twin cylinder off-road bikes built by the factory) that won the 1969 Baja 1000. Other interesting motorcycles include a 1968 Suzuki TM250 (1 of 65) that was the first Japanese production MX’er, a Bultaco Rickman Metisse (1 of 24), and a 1972 XR750 similar to the one White raced on Grand National dirt tracks. The 5,500 square foot private museum has many posters from the earliest years of MX in America and many of Edison Dye’s (the man who brought MX to America) original photos and documents.

The White family at Glen Helen Raceway.

In April 2017, Tom White was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The next month, he was honored by his friend Bud Feldkamp on Glen Helen Raceway’s Walk of Fame, surrounded by his friends and family. Tom passed away in November of 2017.

The 2018 World Vet Motocross Championship at Glen Helen was dedicated to Tom White.

Tom’s motorcycle legacy is a family affair. His daughter Kristin and her husband, John Anderson, founded Dubya USA, a play off the letter “W” found in the family name. Specializing in building motorcycle wheel sets, Dubya also offers custom wheel building, individual wheel components, and even wheel restoration. With Dubya USA and the Early Days of Motocross Museum, Tom White’s legacy will live on.

Cal Wells III

Cal Wells III – ORMHOF Class of 2020

Born October 12, 1955, Cal Wells began his motorized journey in 1968 by cleaning auto parts at an engine rebuilding shop in Westminster Calif. He quickly became enamored with how engines and automobiles operated and kept that passion for learning about cars throughout high school.

In fact, when he graduated Cal’s yearbook included his senior salutation stated his plans to “Race the Baja 500, The Baja 1000, The Daytona 500 and the Indy 500” Overall, I plan to race, race and then race some more”.

And so, it came to pass, and in a very big way.

By 1972 Cal was helping a neighbor prep a Ford truck for the Baja 500. The owner was Bill Deterlie who was running his truck through Bill Stroppe Racing in nearby Signal Hill, Calif. Soon after he started volunteering at Stroppe’s shop and became friends with many of the mechanics, machinists and fabricators who worked there.

ORMHOF inductee Cal Wells III behind the wheel, with his father Cal Jr. co-driving, in the family’s early Ford Bronco.

In 1973 Cal bought a flood-damaged Ford Bronco from North Dakota, brought it home and stripped it to the bare frame in the family garage. He rebuilt it into a race-ready class 3 for the Mint 400. With his entire family working as his pit crew, the car was pulled from the race after nine hours of racing. While Cal was upset at the result, the hook had been set and the Wells family was going racing!

Cal rebuilt the Bronco and raced the Baja 500 with his father, Cal Wells Jr., as his co-driver. Sadly, Cal III was injured while riding as a passenger in a street accident, ending his days of driving competitively. But he turned his energy to building race cars for others, including his brother and father.

Left to Right: Tommy Morris, Ivan Stewart, Cal Wells III, and Cal Wells Jr. Boyd Jaynes photo.

By November of 1979, Wells officially opened a small race shop in Westminster. It was still more of a hobby shop, but one of Cal’s first customers was off-road legend Joe MacPherson. Soon Tommy Morris arrived with his old Class 8, followed by Frank “Scoop” Vessels, Bob Gordon and Charlotte Corral. During this time Cal also worked for MacPherson and ORMHOF inductee and off-road pioneer Drino Miller.

Eventually PPI moved to a huge, state-of-the-art complex in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, and Cal Wells and company eventually expanded their reach to include winning Toyota’s Indy Car and NASCAR programs, as well as running the Toyota Motorsports garage.

Looking back, that high school salutation wasn’t a dream, but a direct roadmap to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Cal’s Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI) Team in 1998. From the Tommy Morris Collection.

Cal Wells: The Records

While every racers dream is to somehow, someway obtain and hold the title of “factory team,” that achievement also carries with it an unwavering and universal reality.

It’s all about winning.

For Cal Wells and his PPI powerhouse, that aspiration became a reality in 1983 thanks to a relationship with Toyota that still exists today. Their all-conquering off-road racing campaigns lasted until the historic 2000 SCORE Baja 1000, but still represent the strongest partnership the sport has ever seen.

That’s not empty hyperbole, but an enviable fact based on world-class execution, a dynamic evolution toward technology and, most importantly, getting a Toyota truck to the finish line before anyone else. Unfortunately for their competition, they did it better and for longer than everybody else.

Cal Wells: The Numbers:

Win Totals and Championships:

• 50 MTEG Stadium Victories
• 9 MTEG Stadium Driver’s Championships
• 11 MTEG Stadium Manufacturer’s Championships
• 33 SCORE Desert Victories
• 4 SCORE Off-Road World Championship Victories (Riverside)
• 2 SCORE Off-Road Overall Championships
• 1 SCORE Off-Road Driver’s Championships
• 1 HDRA Desert Victories

•11 Total Off-Road Driver’s Championships
•14 Total Off-Road Manufacturer’s Championships
•88 Total Major Off-Road Race Victories

Major Race Victories

•11 SCORE Baja 500 Victories (1984, 86 ,89, 1990, 92, 93, 94, 97, 98, 99)

• 2 SCORE Baja 1000 Victories (1993, 1998)

• 4 Mint 400 Victories (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992)

Cal Wells III and Ivan Stewart were a winning combination. Trackside Photo image.

Auto racing’s most famous team owner once observed that “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

In almost every way, Roger Penske’s insight mirrors the backstory to Cal Wells III.

Like Penske did in the early 1970s, Cal amplified the entire narrative of what the top rung of off-road motorsports can represent. No other effort in the history of off-road has ever reached the levels of preparation, execution and presentation than Cal Wells and his Precision Preparation organization.

In order to achieve that, Wells demanded greatness from all aspects of the operation, especially from himself. To Cal, there was only one barometer of ultimate achievement, and that was winning by doing whatever was necessary. His reputation of perfection led to the Toyota factory opportunity which resulted in lots of hard-earned luck along the way.

That underlying perspective and PPI’s rich history of victory should stand on its own merits in terms of induction into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Like so many of the ORMHOF inductees that have come before him, Cal Wells did not carve out this legacy in a vacuum. There are countless examples of his commitment to make the sport of off-road racing and its unique culture of racers, teams and promoters a far better place.

Some examples of this aspect to Cal Wells’ story include:

• Forging a leading component to Toyota’s entrance and growth as a legitimate truck brand in the U.S. market. Off-road racing on a factory level was a long-held initiative for Toyota, and the influence of the PPI-built trucks and driver Ivan “Ironman” Stewart is still tangible today.

• Cal Wells and PPI set the gold standard for all of off-road motorsports, mimicking the very finest operations in all of racing. The innovation and performance found in the factory Toyota’s raised the stakes for all unlimited truck racing – leading directly to today’s top-tier Trophy-Truck construction and competition.

• Cal Well employed some of the sport’s most legendary drivers to pilot the Toyota off-road trucks, a list that includes ORMHOF inductees Ivan Stewart, Robby Gordon and Frank Arciero Jr., as well as Steve Millen, Rod Millen, Jeff Huber, and Tommy Morris.

1986 LA Coliseum: The PPI Toyota team had great success with driver Ivan Stewart. Andrea Wade ©1986, 2013, Toyota Racing All Rights Reserved

• Less well known is the list of industry leaders whose passion and excellence were forged underneath Cal Well’s tutelage and employment. This list includes:

  • Ted Mangels: The very first Baja record holder and winner of the inaugural NORRA Mexican 1000, the late Ted Mangels was the self-taught engineering wizard behind much of the PPI success story.
  • Tommy Morris: Considered the “professor” of off-road technology, went on to work with Wide Open Baja, Zero One, Polaris, Fox Shox and others.
  • Mark Johnson: Formerly the Team Green Manager for Kawasaki, Mark played a pivotal role in the growth of PPI Motorports and its eventual transition to Indycar racing.
  • Jim Blackmore: One of the sport’s best crew chiefs, Jim went on to work for Mark Post/Riviera Racing and now leads Rob MacCachren’s team.
  • Russ Wernimont: A legendary designer and fabricator that went on to work for the Ford program of Jim Venable, Simon & Simon, Jimmy Smith and others.
  • Peter Miles: Son of legendary sport car racer Ken Miles, Peter crafted his mechanical prowess to eventually move on to Wide Open Baja and now the vintage sports car world.
  • Lee Perfect: Learned through the PPI system, went on to work for Church Racing, Baldwin Racing and is now the Lucas Oil Regional series director
  • James DeGaine: Came from Kawasaki to PPI for expert desert logistics, has now guided thousands of guests through Baja via Wide Open.

• While a longtime technical partner with BFGoodrich, in the late 1980s PPI helped the Yokohama Tire brand enter the sport via sponsorship of the desert and short-course Toyota trucks. Cal then formed Precision Service Racing Group (PSRG), which worked hand in hand with Yokohama engineering staff to design, develop, and service product for all forms of racing. The entity still exists as Trackside Performance offering racers of all disciplines (including off-road) Yokohama tire support at events.

• Not so well known is that in 1986 and 1987 Cal assembled a design and engineering team to work with General Motorsports Truck and Bus to develop an engineering and development platform for their all-wheel drive trucks. These vehicles were tested and developed in the SCORE series in two categories; Class 4 and Class 7. These produced both race victories and extensive data for the GM factory – a program that Team MacPherson brought to PPI for design and construction expertise.

• Under Cal’s leadership, Toyota would also become a longtime sponsor of SCORE International, providing financial sponsorship, support vehicles, marketing resources as well as founding the long-running Toyota Milestone awards for SCORE classes.

• In addition, the PPI organization helped SCORE with course marking and in-race safety for all competitors when SCORE allowed them to fly over the race in a helicopter that carried paramedics. They often altered their race plans to give aid to an injured racer or spectator.

• Cal Wells also served as head of technical development for SCORE International, creating and managing competition rules for many years.

• Cal also worked with Micky Thompson on forming the rough driving committee for the MTEG stadium series. Each truck manufacturer was required to provide a person who would work during the races to monitor rough and unsafe driving.

• While best known for the PPI Toyota trucks, Cal also produced historically significant off-road machinery for Charlotte Corral, Joe MacPherson, Mike Nesmith and Frank “Scoop” Vessels.

• Today, Cal Wells continues his work as one of the world’s top motorsports consultants and executives. Via his company LNGA Consulting, he recently worked with Andy McMillin’s Red Bull/Toyo Trophy-Truck team to enhance their team’s overall performance and increase all levels of excellence, efficiency, and competitiveness.

ORMHOF Class of 2020 inductee Cal Wells. A Boyd Jaynes Photo.

Written by ORMHOF inductee Marty Fiolka.

Roger Mears

Roger Mears – ORMHOF Class of 2020

When the name Mears is mentioned in the motorsports industry, Rick’s name is the first to come to mind for most racing enthusiasts and competitors. Only three drivers – Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser — have captured the Indianapolis 500 four times.

But ask Rick who was one of his greatest drivers for him to race with and watch and he’ll talk about his older brother Roger, who was one of the top drivers in off-road history and one of the most well-rounded racers in all forms of four-wheel competition.

In addition to his phenomenal off-road racing statistics, Roger Mears also drove in 31 IndyCar Series races including two Indy 500s and recorded 17 Top-10 finishes. Roger also drove stock cars, sprint cars, midgets, and other racing vehicles in various divisions.

Left to Right: Roger Mears gets congratulations from his father Bill, Sal Fish, and brother Rick, after winning his first championship at Riverside.

Roger won a remarkable twenty World Off-Road Championships at the historic Riverside International Raceway. He also has four Baja 1000 wins, five Pikes Peak International Hill Climbs, two HDRA/SCORE series titles and a Mickey Thompson Stadium Series Truck crown, leaving no doubt that the older Mears brother had a spectacular racing career.

Roger Mears after his first Pikes Peak Hill Climb wins. His name is on the spectacular perpetual trophy five times.
The walls of the family garage are covered with three generations of Mears Gang racing memories.

Memories on the walls of the Mears Gang garage. The photos above are from 1951. Left: Bill raced the ‘big’ number 10. Between the big 10 and the 32 five-window hot rod coupe is the ‘little’ number 10 Jr, built by Bill for five-year-old Roger to ‘race’ around the dirt track during intermission to entertain the crowd. Right: That’s little Roger presenting the trophy dash trophy to his dad. Roger’s mom sent Roger out to present the trophy to his dad instead of letting the trophy girl present it so his dad couldn’t kiss the trophy girl. True story. And here’s the trophy:

Photos above: More memories from the Mears Gang garage wall. Left, Roger’s dad Bill wins again in 1951. Right, Roger in the car that gave him his second Pikes Peak Hill Climb win in the 1970s.

Photos above: Two more memories from the Mears Gang garage wall. Left, Roger won many races driving his dad’s midget. He also had a serious wreck in this car, breaking both of his arms. Right, Roger’s son Casey driving a Super Lite at a Mickey Thompson Stadium Series race, with his dad Roger, and grandad Bill, standing by the car. This was one of Casey’s first races. Casey would go on to a successful racing career, including fifteen seasons in NASCAR with a trip to victory lane in 2007 and more than fifty top-ten finishes.

Roger and Rick Mears.

Roger and Rick Mears, who started in go-karts and motorcycles, began to establish their racing lore in the tight Ascot Park Sprint Buggy action in the early 1970s and it continued at Riverside, Pikes Peak and in the desert. The Bakersfield, California brother duo had followed their father, Bill, in racing and also followed him to the winner’s circle. Bill was a very successful stock car racer in Wichita, Kansas before moving his family to California for better business opportunities. But the boys showed their talent had exceeded Bill’s impressive abilities.

Left to right: Bill Mears, Mike Moore, Roger Mears, Sal Fish, and the trophy girl, awarding Roger and co-driver Mike yet another first place in the legendary Jeep Honcho.

After various wins in short course and desert racing, Roger’s brother Rick moved to road racing, and the famed open-wheel triumphs that included three IndyCar Series championship and four Indy 500 wins.

Meanwhile, Roger was driving anything and everything he could in the desert, short course, dirt and pavement ovals, and later followed Rick into IndyCars. Despite competing full-time in only two IndyCar campaigns, Roger put together strong showings despite driving second-hand equipment. His peers knew that as well and named him “Most Improved Driver” in 1983.

Nissan Racing Team – Roger Mears Racing.

With the shortage of good IndyCar rides, Roger returned to his roots in off-road racing and continued his sensational Riverside performances, many wins in the Mickey Thompson Stadium series and started his own racing operation with Nissan, Budweiser and Bridgestone partnerships. The Mears name was winning on the pavement with Rick and in the dirt with Roger. Roger even learned the tough life of race promoting (i.e. Mickey Thompson, Walt Lott and Sal Fish, etc.) with the “Mears Gang Rumble” in Bakersfield in 1984.

Another career highlight for Mears was the double win in the 1986 Baja 1000 with son, Roger Jr., taking the 1/2 1600 class and Roger capturing Class 7 in his Nissan truck.

One of the more remarkable Roger Mears stories dates back to 1980 when he flipped a midget car at Ascot Park and broke both arms. Doctors advised him to rest but the Baja 1000 was coming in a few weeks and Roger was battling for the series title. So, the doctors decided on surgery with plates in Roger’s arms. Mears, with help from his dad driving too, drove 70 percent of the race and finished the 1000 miles. He took the SCORE Class 3 series title in the famed Budweiser Jeep Honcho, the same machine which won 12 of 22 races in a three-year period.

The Jeep Honcho driven by Roger Mears has been restored by Jeff Furrier of UPR Racing Supply.

Roger says that “More horsepower equals more fun.” The trophy truck he raced in 1995 made 800 to 900 horsepower. Roger added, “There’s nothing more fun than that — except more horsepower!”

Roger’s last trophy truck race was in 1995.

In recent years, Roger and his wife, Carol, have retired in Mexico after following their son, Casey, who competed in the NASCAR Cup stock car series for more than a decade. They also spend time visiting with Roger’s dad, Bill, in their hometown of Bakersfield, California.

The hands of Mears Gang patriarch Bill Mears adorned with a few of the family’s championship rings.
Most recently, Casey has followed his dad into off-road competition, driving Lynn Chenowth’s buggy to the 2019 NORRA 1000 class win and third overall.

“I have raced many forms of racing. Competing in off-road races was and is still my favorite form of racing. With off-road racing there is a lot of seat time, driving a race car for hours and hours, all the terrain changes, weather changes, the challenges that come with racing in the desert. I still have off-road cars and my retired time is to play in the desert everyday! Off-Road racing has come full circle for Casey and myself as we both started out in off-road. It’s very rewarding and fun to be able to chase Casey and be involved as he races in off-road now. It means a great deal to me and is an honor to be inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. It is nice to be recognized for all the hard work and dedication for myself and everyone involved with our teams. I couldn’t have had any of my success without our hard working crew giving me suburb equipment to drive. Definitely a team effort!” — Roger Mears

Roger recently took to a scooter to go out for a spin with his dad Bill. They assured us that they weren’t racing…
Roger and his wife Carol have been married 43 years.

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson – ORMHOF Class of 2020

Versatility, tenacity, commitment, dedication, longevity, dominance: These are just a few of the words that describe the off-road racing career of Jack Johnson. A racing career that spanned some 40 years, Jack amassed a staggering (23) SCORE, HDRA, and Best In The Desert event overall wins in a car, truck, or motorcycle.  A tremendous record no doubt, but one that no one is surprised to acknowledge because even at an early age, Jack’s career was marked for greatness.

Born in California and raised in the Nevada desert, under the tutelage of his father Bill Johnson, Jack was thrown into the deep end of the racing pool at a very early age. Traveling extensively throughout California and Nevada, competing in every type of motorcycle competition imaginable against much older and more experienced riders, he quickly developed a reputation as the upcoming young racer to watch. As a teenager, he quickly moved onto winning desert races overall, his eyes firmly set on winning at the highest levels of sport.  From the late ‘60s, through the ‘70s’ ‘80s and ‘90s, Jack Johnson was a threat to win overall!

Photo credit: Jack Johnson by Centerline Images via SCORE International

Jack made his first mark at the “big” races at the 1973 Mint 400, where he and partner Dave Laca put the off-road motorcycle racing world on notice. There they finished 2nd overall, 1st 250cc motorcycle on a privately backed Yamaha owned by Pat Friel, of Valley Cycle Sales crossing the line just behind the mighty factory Husqvarna team. In 1975, once again riding for Valley Cycles, and teamed with Mark Mason, he shocked the motorcycling establishment winning the 1975 Mint 400 overall beating Team Husqvarna decisively.

Jack Johnson and Sal Fish at the finish line of the 1977 Baja 500. A Kurt Scherbaum Image. The Lensman Photography

In 1976 Jack claimed his first victory in Baja winning Class 21 with future brother-in-law, and fellow AMA Hall Of Famer Scot Harden as his partner. In 1977 he joined Team Husqvarna as an official team member and from there he went on to set records and established him as one of the most dominant off-road motorcycle racers ever.

A short list of Jack’s major wins includes: Four overall wins at the Baja 1000, a SCORE Off-Road World Championship victory, two Mint 400 overalls, two Las Vegas 400 overalls, an overall win at the San Felipe 250 and countless local and regional wins including four overall wins at the legendary Cherry Creek Hare and Hound and Virginia City Grand Prix. Last but not least, Jack won the Baja 500 twice overall, his second win in 1979 putting him in the record books as the only motorcycle racer ever to win the Baja 500 overall riding solo.

Jack Johnson behind the wheel of a single seat FUNCO at the 1980 Mint 400.

In the early 80’s Jack turned his attention to international competition representing the United States at the International Six Days Enduro where Jack brought home two medals, including a Silver Medal in France in 1980 and a Gold Medal in Italy in 1981. Jack continued to race and win in Baja as part of the Chris Haines Baja race team well into his 50s, dominating Class 30 and 40 turning times in the sections he rode that were comparable to the fastest times for the event overall.

Jack Johnson at the 1985 Parker 400. Yes, that’s snow! Image credit: Trackside Photo.

As a result of his phenomenal career in motorcycle racing, Jack was inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame in 2016. Starting in the early ’80s, and while still at the top of the motorcycle world, Jack began making forays into the world of off-road car and truck racing and quickly proved to be just as dominant. Racing for legendary car tuner Butch Dean, Jack proved to be a quick study winning the 1980 Mint 400 overall in a Class 1 Unlimited car in his very first attempt.  In the process, he became the first racer ever to win the  Mint overall in both a car and motorcycle.

Jack Johnson at the 1988 Mint 400.

By 1986 Jack was racing trucks and in 1987 became the Driver of Record for Nissan’s factory off-road program. In 1988 Jack rewarded Nissan with a win in Class 4 at the Mint 400, establishing another record as the only racer to win the legendary race in a car, truck, and motorcycle. Jack’s list of car/truck victories alone put him at a level few other off-road racers can match with 28 class and 14 overall wins in the four-wheel division. In addition, he recorded three HDRA Class 1 Unlimited Class Series Championships and three SCORE Series Championships in trucks and motorcycles.

Jack Johnson driving for Walker Evans Racing at the 1995 Baja 500.

Known as a “thinking man’s” racer Jack understood the need to properly set-up and test his equipment before each race especially when it came to setting up the handling package on his race vehicle. Gifted with an innate ability to read terrain, develop a winning race strategy and having incredible stamina to go the distance, often solo, these qualities presented a formidable combination regardless of the machine or type of race involved. Add in his indomitable spirit and will to win, and you have all the ingredients necessary to dominate your sport.  Only a very small handful of elite racers ever have adapted to such a wide variety of racing equipment, disciplines, and conditions so successfully as Jack Johnson.

Jack Johnson behind the wheel of a Jeep Cherokee at the 1991 HDRA Gold Coast.

Today Jack is still riding and recreating off-road on his beloved KTM 300. He’s heavily involved with the legendary Nevada 200 Trailride and serves as a trail boss and ambassador for the event, which raises thousands of dollars for the rural communities in Lincoln County, Nevada.

Jack Johnson with brother-in-law and friend Scot Harden, out marking course for the Nevada 200 Trailride. Both Johnson and Harden are members of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Hall of Fame.

Jack’s advice and counsel are sought out by upcoming young off-road racers, where he is always willing to help out with advice and encouragement. Jack’s induction into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame caps a legendary career that is still evolving. 

Profile photo by Stephen Romero.

Danny Foddrill

Danny Foddrill – ORMHOF Class of 2020

Danny Foddrill began his journey into off-road in the late 60’s. He and his friends would ride out to the desert and create their own races, long before most of the off-road racing series were established. They would take Jeeps, dirt bikes, or their dune buggies and drag race just outside of town. His passion for building and off-road started way back in high school on the front porch of his parent’s house, where he built a Jeep from the ground up, including the headers.

After attending ASU and working for APSM Danny dove deep into the off-road world at “Palmer’s Custom Speed” in 1975. There they built the famous Chaparral Chassis, which were ahead of their time and won countless races.

During the early years, he got behind the wheel, and this was a point in his life that the passion grew even deeper for the sport. It was in these early years of racing that he honed his craft and developed his suspension parts, which are sought after to this day.

Danny won a few races, raced in more than he can count, built numerous cars, and led many racers and teams. He may have started in the off-road world many years ago, but he is constantly innovating ways to make the race vehicles and off-road vehicles better and more durable while continuing to help the industry stay strong.

Danny built and raced this Chaparral, photo is from the 1984 Frontier 250.

Danny Foddrill has played many roles in the off-road industry. He’s built, designed, driven, owned, prepared, promoted, and supported countless off-road vehicles. He’s also had a big hand in developing many racing careers and racing enthusiasts alike. His history with the sport runs deep & wide. With a career that spans more than forty years, Danny Foddrill is a well-respected veteran leader in the off-road community.

Danny and son Larry, who is standing on a Chaparral at an early race in Snowflake, Arizona.

Danny is known for his superior welding and fabrication skills. His Foddrill Arms and Spindles are second to none and have been used on thousands of off-road vehicles for almost four decades. On top of these industry staples, Danny has built and maintained hundreds of cars, and owned and supported dozens of race teams.

Some of these teams included Wins from:
Larry Ragland: 250, Parker 400 Baja 500
Richard Roberts: Baja 1000
Larry Foddrill: Pace & Loors
Peter Alesi: Baja 1000
Kevin McCullough – ‘17 Loors Championship
Danny Foddrill- ADRA Wickenburg ‘87, Point 2 Point ‘93
Rob Martensen, ‘16 Baja 1000 Class 12

In 1983 Danny opened his own business, Foddrill Fabrication. To this day Danny Foddrill’s shop, Fod Fab, is a hub for racers and off-road enthusiasts. Many off-road entrepreneurs will attest to getting their start at Danny’s shop. He has and continues to mentor aspiring builders and fabricators. He shares his deep wealth of knowledge with anyone who has a passion for learning.

Seeing the need for a one stop shop for all things off-road in Arizona, Danny expanded with a retail off-road parts store. Danny opened Foddrill Motorsports in 2007 with his business partner Denny Lee.

To know Danny is to know that he loves this industry with a passion. He has always given his time, energy, and expertise freely and will continue to give back to the industry in any way he possibly can. Today, at 70, Danny can still be found at his shop behind a welding mask fabricating parts, and out at the race tracks supporting his own and other race teams … giving his all to ensure everyone finishes the race!

Dean Bulloch

Dean Bulloch – ORMHOF Class of 2020

Dean Bulloch has been involved in the racing world for most of his life, starting in the 1970s with motocross, snowmobile drags and cross country racing. In 1978 he opened a powersports dealership in Utah, D&P Performance. In the 1980s, Dean and his team dominated the motorcycle trials bikes national series. Over 40+ years of racing, he has 184 wins.

In 1991, Dean built a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag bike, winning the Pro ET NHRA/Winston Series. He continued his success on the track in 1992, winning multiple “Wallys”, the highest honor in NHRA, named for the Association’s founder, Wally Parks. Dean was also awarded the Sportsman of the Year award for helping anyone and everyone. “This almost meant more to me than winning the championship,” Dean said.

In 1998 Dean built a rock buggy and never looked back. With over 80 rock crawling wins, 16 Pro National titles and five world rock crawling championships, these are the achievements that set Dean on a path to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Dean Bulloch flying high at the Ultra4 Stampede in Reno, Nevada. David Taylor photo.

With the birth of Ultra4 Racing and King of the Hammers in 2007, Dean decided it was time to go fast, so he built a 4400 unlimited buggy that could race both the desert and rocks, competing in several King of the Hammers races and both the Ultra4 Racing and Best in the Desert series.

In 2012, Arctic Cat came out with the Wildcat 1000 and Dean immediately started building one for King of the Hammers, which he won. That set Dean on a new course, and Team Wildcat Racing was born. That same year, Dean started another company, Wildcat Willy’s, which builds custom race UTVs and develops aftermarket UTV parts and accessories. In 2015 Arctic Cat released the Wildcat Sport 700, which Dean and his Team Wildcat Racing took to six WORC titles and two world championships.

Dean Bulloch (center) and his Team Wildcat Racing teammates Karl Munford and Stacey Pike in 2015. RCH Designs photo.

In 2016, D&P Performance suffered a devastating fire that completely destroyed the facility. Dean put his racing on hold for nine long months to rebuild his shop into a state of the art facility.

After rebuilding D&P Performance, Dean (center) returned to racing in 2017 with teammates Terra Hagel and Karl Munford. Photo by Ryan Hagel.

In 2018, Dean took delivery of four Arctic Cat Wildcat XX models. He built one into a rock crawler, two into short course cars, and one into a desert car. The team had great success that year, including a win at the Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race, the longest off-road race in North America.

A nice build out of Dean’s D&P Performance.

In 2019, Dean decided that his time in the driver’s seat had come to an end. He retired from racing but remains involved as a team owner. When he’s not enjoying riding for fun on his ranch, he spends time promoting and marketing the off-road industry. He enjoys teaching people how to ride and drive safely off-road and how to correctly tackle each obstacle.

“There are a lot of things that have brought me great honor during my years of racing,” says Dean, “but what really stands out is the great friendships I have gained. These are friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Bob Bower

Bob Bower – ORMHOF Class of 2020

“He’s a street kid from word one, always has been, and always will be.” –Michael Coates, Editor, Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off-Road, January 1983

At age 8 Bob Bower read about the Bill Stroppe Lincoln teams that dominated the 1953 Mexican Carrera Panamericana and later learned about the Baja 1000 race to La Paz. It became a fixation with him to be part of it someday. 

Living the life of a Corvette enthusiast, Bower caught the eye of BFGoodrich at a time when the Brand was in the early stages of marketing performance tires to car clubs. He accepted the offer to go to work for BFG in 1977 and found himself at the Mint 400 as a pit volunteer. The fixation transformed into a deep passion for off-road. From that day forward he would make a huge impact on the world of off-road racing in a variety of roles. Pit volunteer, chase crew, race team manager, pit manager, program manager, winning co-driver, winning driver, ESPN TV color analyst, and teacher. Bower’s goal was to have a positive impact on whatever he was doing. His philosophy of “be alert, listen to what people have to say and always use the truth” served him well.

It was 1982 when BFGoodrich put him in the role of Off-Road Program manager. With very thin budget resources available, the challenge was to provide support for the contracted teams and win races. Bower’s race strategy was very straightforward… “You start winning rather than finish winning.”

Bower’s vision was to establish a common direction on the race course and in the pits, and bring all the teams into one big BFG team. “The direction we’re heading is very, very clear.” “That is to be the best between the green and checkered flags”. Bower launched the BFGoodrich Pit Support program. To this day the BFGoodrich Pits are arguably the most successful and widely used pit service in Off-Road Desert Racing.

The 1985 Baja 1000 ended early for Bob and his teammate Mike Randall in the Class 4 Honcho when they got off course and lost, ending up sunken to the frame in a tidal mud marsh. It took two days for the team to find and retrieve them. Bower swore, and promised his wife Necia, that we would never be lost like that again in Baja.

He would make detailed maps of the race course, highways, and chase roads (KM mileage included), along with other information like fuel and food locations. The chase crews knew at any given time they could drive to the correct chase road and how long the drive should take. Teams raced with a higher degree of safety for their chase crews because of those maps. In the early 1990s Bower turned the map making over to BFGoodrich in order to make it available to the masses. By widely distributing the maps, all of the chase crews could support their teams with a higher degree of safety.

Bob Bower and team celebrate their class win at the 2015 Baja 1000.

Bob wrote “What About You?”, a powerful piece that has been included in almost all pit books over the past 20 years. It remains fresh and relevant today because of its absolute raw truth. “What About You?” is Bob’s heartfelt advice to everyone in off-road, about safety and taking care of yourself and those you are with during the race. Many are convinced “What About You?” has saved lives over the last two decades. Bob says he was “simply speaking from the heart.”

Over the years Bob has shown his passion, humility and wisdom. They are matched only by his unshakeable ethic. There have been many young racers who have been helped along their way by Bower. He’s always been a champion of the little guy. Sometimes it’s a quiet conversation, sometimes a few hours of highway windshield time, other times simply introducing them to others in the sport who could help them get better. Young stars like Robby Gordon, Ivan Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Arciero, and Rob MacCachren all have had Bob help them along in their racing career in one small way or another. For Bob Bower, it has been a labor of love. “I never wanted to change things in our sport, I just wanted to do what I could to help it along.”

Bob’s personal motto is “Life Is A One Lap Race!” He seems to be running a rather good lap!

Bobby Ferro

Bobby Ferro – ORMHOF Class of 2019

In 1973 automotive journalist Hal Higdon published his book “Finding the Groove”.  This book was based on 27 interviews of the greatest race car drivers of the time and included drivers like Mario Andretti, Richard Petty, Don Garlits, Bobby and Al Unser, and Don Prudhomme.  Selected to represent off-road racing was Bobby Ferro.  How did he earn this distinction?

It all started in 1963 at Bud Ekins’ Triumph motorcycle shop in Sherman Oaks, California. (Bud Ekins was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.)  Ferro started working at the shop as a mechanic when he was just 16 years old.  That same year, racing a Triumph Tiger Cub, 16-year-old Ferro entered his first race, a Checkers MC District 37 event, where he finished 109th.

Bobby Ferro racing a 100 Lap TT at Ascot, 1970

In 1970 Ferro purchased a bare Funco Wampus Kitty chassis from Ekins and built the car himself, entering his homebuilt rig in the 1970 Baja 500. By the halfway point, he was leading overall on time, but a rollover put him back to 4th at the finish. Not a bad showing for his first race on four wheels. Ferro went on to enter the 1970 Mexican 1000, where he finished 2nd.

In 1971, before there was an Ironman award, the NORRA Mexican 1000 required a driver change at the halfway point. Ferro petitioned NORRA to let him drive solo. Ferro got the go-ahead, and proceeded to win the race, becoming the first driver to ever solo the 1000.

Ferro’s performance got the attention of Scott McKenzie (ORMHOF Class of 2005), who asked him to join the Sandmaster team. Driving a Funco SS1 manufactured by Gil George (ORMHOF Class of 2007), the Sandmaster team with Ferro behind the wheel was the team to beat in off-road racing throughout the 1970s. After McKenzie sold Sandmaster, Ferro moved to the Modern Motors Team and later would be reunited with McKenzie at the Tracy Valenta (ORMHOF Class of 2016) Party Ice team.

During the 1970s Bobby Ferro would become one of the most dominant racers our sport has ever seen, with twenty-five 4-wheel overall wins. There wasn’t a major race that Ferro didn’t win, including two Mexican 1000s, four Baja 500s, two Mint 400s, three California 400s, and the 1974 SCORE Championship.

L-R: Team owner Tracy Valenta, Bobby Ferro, race organizer Sal Fish (ORMHOF Class of 2006) and Judy Smith (ORMHOF Class of 2008) at the 1978 Mexicali 350 awards ceremony.

In 1976 one of Bobby’s sponsors suggested letting a relatively unknown driver share driving duties at the Baja 500. Ferro agreed to give the driver a shot, and the two of them went on to overall the race, helping to launch the driver’s career. That driver’s name?  Ivan Stewart (ORMHOF Class of 2006).

Ferro broke new ground when he asked journalist and racer Judy Smith (ORMHOF Class of 2008) to race the 1978 Mexicali 350 with him in a two-seat buggy.  While not an unknown commodity – Judy had been the first woman to solo the 1000 in 1972 – not too many drivers were looking for women as their co-riders. Bobby Ferro respected Judy as a smart and tough woman who could handle it.  That fact that she weighed 90 pounds didn’t hurt either, and the two went on to a historic overall victory in the Tracy Valenta Party Ice Class 2 Funco. 

Bobby Ferro (right) and Johnny Johnson (ORMHOF Class of 2010) on Ensenada’s Walk of Fame. The duo won the 1973 Baja 1000.

Besides winning, Ferro was also a strong safety advocate. His day job as a Hollywood stunt man made him especially interested in safety.  After seeing Sprint car drivers killed or seriously injured and losing arms in rollovers, Ferro started racing with leather straps tied to his arms which he later replaced with window nets. Ferro petitioned race organizers to make arm restraints and window nets mandatory. He persisted until the improved safety measures were put into effect.

Steve Morris

Steve Morris – ORMHOF Class of 2019

Steve Morris has been a pioneer and advocate for the Recreational Four Wheeling community since the purchase of his first Jeep in 1954, a Willys CJ2A.

His passion for off-road started as family recreation, then moved into business as an employee of the Jeep Corporation in Detroit, and later as a Jeep dealer.  Morris continued to follow his passion for off-road, moving into the role of advocate for off-road recreation and public land access for California and Nevada.

Looking for comradery, Morris helped form the Sacramento Jeepers in 1956. The club still contributes to Off Highway Vehicle access and maintenance, and hosts a CPR/First Aid class for its members.

Morris saw a need for an agency that would protect and represent the rights and needs of the off-road community. He was instrumental in the development and formation of the California Association of 4WD Clubs (Cal4Wheel) in 1959.  He served on the board as the first Cal4Wheel president and helped develop the by-laws that the organization still follows today.  The Cal4Wheel Win-A-Jeep promotion is a major fundraiser since the early days of the organization that continues to this day.

Steve’s love of the Sierra Nevada mountains led him to help start the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s club in 1966.  The Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s contribute to the community as volunteers and adopting trails in the Tahoe National Forest and surrounding areas near South Lake Tahoe, including the Long Lake Trail at the base of the Cadillac Hill on the Rubicon Trail. Steve is still active and sits on the Rubicon Oversight Committee (ROC) meetings in El Dorado County, California.

There is a spot on the Rubicon Trail at the top of Cadillac Hill called ‘Morris Rock’ where Steve and his wife would camp out every Saturday night, offering a helping hand to vehicles who were having trouble navigating the challenging trail by winching them through the difficult spot.

In 1985 a group of like-minded individuals banded together and purchased the 400 acres known as Rubicon Springs, just three days before it was going to be taken over by the United States Forest Service.  By purchasing the property, the landowners preserved public access through the Rubicon trail system.  Morris is currently one of twelve owners of the Rubicon Springs property and is still called on from time to time for his knowledge of the history, and his experience, of fighting for public land rights.

Steve Morris has been a mentor to many people who are now leaders in the protection of OHV rights and access. He is the perfect example of how to conduct oneself with dignity and respect for others. Although soft spoken, Morris has led many meetings, coordinated maintenance efforts and led the way to protect OHV rights.  Each year during the Jeepers Jamboree, an event he has attended for more than 60 years, Morris gives a presentation to attendees on the history of the Rubicon Trail and the need for those who enjoy OHV recreation to get involved in preserving public access to public lands.

Steve Morris participated in many early Jeep events, including the first-ever competition at Pismo Beach.  He was a pit crew member at The Mint 400 in Las Vegas and organized and competed in early Hill Climbs and Jeep Pulls in South Lake Tahoe hosted by the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s, the club he helped get started in 1966.

When the Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) was founded in 2001, Steve Morris was there, attending meetings and donating countless hours of his time.  ORMHOF inductee Del Albright (Class of 2014) says of Morris, “He has always been the first one to raise his hand and say, I can help.”

In 2016 Steve Morris was recognized for more than 50 years of service to Cal4Wheel. 

Editor’s Note: Steve Morris learned of his induction into the Hall of Fame in the early summer of 2019. Prior to the formal Induction Ceremony, Steve passed away during a visit to the Rubicon Springs, the place he loved more than anywhere on earth. Steve’s son Rick, was present at the Induction Ceremony to honor his father as a Legacy inductee of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Frank Arciero

Frank Arciero – ORMHOF Class of 2019

Frank ‘Butch’ Arciero Jr is one of the most decorated drivers that has ever been involved in the sport of off-road racing.  Arciero excelled at short course and desert racing, on two wheels and four, and he enjoys competing to this day.

Like many off-road racers, Arciero’s love for desert racing began on a motorcycle in the early 1970s. In 1974, he and his brother Al ventured into the 4-wheel vehicles, which is where Frank would make his mark.

Beyond his success and frequent trips to the winner’s circle, Arciero counts the lifelong friendships he has made throughout his career in off-road as one of his greatest accomplishments.

The Arciero family has racing in their blood. Inductee Frank ‘Butch’ Arciero Jr’s late father, Frank Sr, immigrated from Italy in 1949 at the age of 14, realizing the American dream through a successful construction company, and discovering a passion for Ferraris and fine wine along the way.  Inductee Arciero’s son, Ryan Arciero, is a third-generation racer, currently campaigning the Levi’s Trophy Truck in Baja and the U.S.

Frank ‘Butch’ Arciero Jr celebrates a win at the NORRA Mexican 1000 with his son Ryan.

Aside from his accomplished racing career, Frank ‘Butch’ Arciero Jr was instrumental in advancing the sport of off-road through technical achievements.  Arciero Racing was one of the first teams to introduce bypass shocks into stadium short course racing.  Arciero was instrumental in bringing Toyota/TRD engines and support to the buggy class, and helped Chevrolet develop their 4-wheel drive for desert racing. In addition to Toyota and Chevrolet, Arciero has developed lifelong relationships with companies including BFGoodrich, Bilstein, and Bosch, just to name a few.

Generous and humble are words that have been used to describe Frank ‘Butch’ Arciero Jr.  There are many stories of Arciero’s willingness to help his fellow competitors, loaning engines, transmissions, or whatever it took to get them back out on the course.  Arciero’s generosity extends far beyond the sport of off-road.  We will never know the full extent of his charitable good deeds, which he does quietly and without fanfare. And that’s exactly how he wants it.

Frank ‘Butch’ Arciero Jr Career Highlights, Off-Road:

– 40+ trophy finishes on a motorcycle

– 40+ off-road wins, including The Mint 400, SCORE World Championships, Nevada 400, Baja 500, and Baja 1000

– Gave Toyota their first Unlimited Class win at the 1985 SCORE Baja 500

– 85+ top 5 finishes

– 1980 AMSA Class 1 Points Champion

– 1981 HDRA Class 1 Points Champion

– 1981 HDRA Class 10 Points Champion

– 1984 HDRA Drivers Championship

Frank Arciero Career Highlights, Short Course:

– 50+ wins

– 125+ top 5 finishes

– 1984, 1987, and 1991 Mickey Thompson Drivers Championship

– More wins than any other stadium racer upon his retirement from short course racing in 1993

– Only driver to win a main event in three different classes