Author Archives: Barbara Rainey

Robby Gordon

Robby Gordon – ORMHOF Class of 2019

Robby Gordon is one of the most versatile drivers of the modern era. He has won in just about every type of car racing, including NASCAR, IMSA, Trans-Am and IndyCar. But it’s in off-road racing where he’s really made — and continues to make — his mark. As a driver, Gordon won the Baja 1000 three times (1987, 1989, 2006), the Baja 500 four times (1989, 1990, 2005, 2013) and captured seven SCORE championships (five of them consecutive, from 1986 to 1990, and again in 1996 and 2009) and two Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group stadium racing titles.

In 2007, while still racing NASCAR full-time Gordon became the first American to win a Stage in the Legendary Dakar Rally. Gordon has competed in “the world’s most difficult race” representing the United States 14-times, claiming 10 stages wins and a third place overall.

In 2012, he founded the Stadium Super Trucks series. Based on Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Mickey Thompson’s concept, the series began there but has evolved as a popular support event at major road races in the U.S. and abroad. The Super Trucks put on a spectacular show, soaring over jumps and banging fenders in front of awestruck crowds. With Stadium Super Trucks, Gordon has brought off-road racing to a whole new audience and introduced a new form of motorsports to the world. As a driver-owner, Gordon himself has won the series title twice (2013, 2014) while claiming 19 race wins.

Robby Gordon surrounded by fans and media in Dakar.  A true international superstar, Robby Gordon brings global attention to the sport of off-road racing.

In addition to his racing, Gordon is one of the most influential people in the off-road industry. In 2018, he launched a UTV he designed exclusively for Arctic Cat/Textron. The much-anticipated Wildcat XX design was based off the years of Gordon’s experience and knowledge in off-road racing. With positive reviews and results the Wildcat XX was voted UTV of the Year for 2018. 

Robby is the son of racing legend Bob Gordon, an early pioneer in the sport of off-road. Bob Gordon was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Legacy Inductee in 2017.  Bob and Robby are only the second father and son Inductees in Hall of Fame history. Robby’s son, Max, is the third generation in the Gordon off-road racing family. Max became the youngest driver to ever compete and finish the Baja 1000 in 2017 at the age of 9.

Robby Gordon Career Highlights:

– 19-time Stadium SUPER Trucks Winner

– Seven-time SCORE International Champion, 1986-90, 1996, 2009

– BITD Grand Champion, 2012

– Three-time Baja 1000 winner, 1987, 1989, 2006

– Four-time Baja 500 winner, 1989, 1990, 2005, 2013

– First American to win Stage in Dakar Rally, 2007

– Ten Dakar Rally stage victories

– 3rd place overall Finish in Dakar Rally, 2009

– Won very first off-road race entered Vegas to Reno 500

– Two-time Mickey Thompson Grand National Sport Truck Series Champion

– One Central Europe Rally Special win, 2008 CER Stage 5

– X Games Austin Silver Medal Winner in Off-Road Truck, 2015

– X Games Austin Bronze Medal Winner in Off-Road Truck, 2014

Other Notable Accomplishments:

– Four consecutive class wins in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona

– Three consecutive class wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring

– Three NASCAR Monster Cup Victories: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 2001; Sonoma Raceway, 2003; Watkins Glen, 2003

– NASCAR Xfinity Series Win: Richmond International Raceway, 2004

– First driver to sweep both NASCAR Road Courses in the same year

– Two CART Victories, Phoenix International Raceway, 1995; and Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, 1995

– Indianapolis 500: Three top-five and five top-10 finishes in 10 starts

– Attempted the “Double Duty” four times, racing the Indy 500 and Coca Cola 600 in the same day (1 of 4 drivers)

Lynn Chenowth

Lynn Chenowth – ORMHOF Class of 2019

Lynn Chenowth is a legendary off-road industry pioneer and chassis builder, whose open-wheel creations were a driving force behind some of the sport’s biggest victories and greatest drivers.

In the 1970s, it was Chenowth who helped usher in the development of true tube frame off-road vehicles. The sport was quickly growing and evolving, and Chenowth Racing Products was ready to meet the need.  With a mass production approach to building affordable chassis and products, Chenowth helped bring the sport of recreational off-roading to the masses.

Over 25,000 Chenowth-built race, recreational and sand buggy frames were built by the company and shipped around the world, many assembled in home garages by mechanically inclined enthusiasts. Chenowth took a southern California-based lifestyle and shared it around the country – and the world.

Lynn’s Chenowth “Wedge,” Chenowth 1000 and Chenowth 2000 race cars all became winners in the 1970s, pushing the envelope of speed and reliability. Chenowth also designed the five-link rear suspended Chenowth Magnum short-course cars that dominated short course racing around the country for a decade, including the Mickey Thompson stadium series. Although he eventually sold Chenowth Racing Products in 1980 to fellow San Diego resident Mike Thomas, Lynn continued his role in the development of Chenowth desert and short course cars, the Chenowth Mini-Mag, as well as the company’s ventures into Yamaha and military vehicles.

Lynn’s expertise in the development of vehicles, drive trains and suspensions led him to a unique relationship with Yamaha Motor Company. Under his partnership with Yamaha Motor Company, Chenowth used his expertise in the development of vehicles, drive trains and suspensions to help innovate a series of vehicles, many incorporating Yamaha V-max engines and Chenowth rear a-arm technology. Eventually the relationship led the industry’s original UTVs.

Factory-backed and private Chenowth cars have taken many of the sport’s greatest drivers to off-road racing’s biggest victories. The list includes ORMHOF inductees Johnny Johnson, Ivan Stewart, Corky and Mark McMillin, Bob and Robby Gordon, Frank ‘Butch’ Arciero Jr, and Rob MacCachren.

Chenowth retired in 2017 and sold his company, Pulltarps Manufacturing, with the goal of returning to the fun of off-road racing.  He’s off to a good start, with the foundation of the seaside Chenowth Legacy Lodge and Museum in Baja, Mexico, just south of San Felipe.  Chenowth is also working with a team of former factory craftsmen to build a new Chenowth racing chassis.

David Higgins

David Higgins – ORMHOF Class of 2019

It took a driver from a small island country in the Irish Sea to help put Rally back on the map in the United States.  David Higgins was born in 1972 on the Isle of Man, the country famous for motorsports. David’s grandparents and parents have all been successful rally drivers, and David’s brother Mark is an accomplished rally driver in his own right. His children started kart racing and they have been successful, winning many local races.

Many people are unaware that Rally is a category at ORMHOF, something that Higgins’ induction is sure to change.  David Higgins joins John Buffum as a Rally inductee in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. Buffum was inducted fifteen years ago, in 2004. While Buffum was dominant throughout the 1970s and 80s, retiring at the end of his undefeated 1987 year in the United States, Higgins has set the 21st Century Rally world on fire matching Buffum’s fete of the perfect undefeated season, winning all eight rounds of the Rally America National Championship in 2015. There is no driver more dominant in U.S. Rally today than Higgins.

David Higgins joined Subaru Rally Team USA in 2011. He has won multiple Rally America National Championships (2011-2016, 2018) for the Subaru brand, racking up more than thirty-five victories. His 2018 championship was his seventh for Subaru and ninth overall in the U.S.

Higgins got his first taste of motorsport in motorcycle trials when he was 8 years old. By age 10, he had moved into national kart racing and won seven titles against drivers including future F1 star David Coulthard. At his first opportunity David started rallying and was invited to drive in the team that late WRC legend Richard Burns drove for in the Peugeot 205 Challenge.

David went on to win 1997, 1999 and 2002 British Rally Class Championships. In 2002, he also came to America as a privateer and won the SCCA ProRally Championship. He repeated his success in 2003, winning six events and again claiming the SCCA ProRally Driver’s Championship. For 2004 it was back to Britain where David contested the full season and became the British Rally Champion. David also began rallying in the ultra-competitive Chinese Rally Championship in 2004, where he helped his team win the Team’s Championship in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2012. (Foreign drivers can’t score individual points in the Chinese championship).

Rally cars hurtle along narrow dirt roads at speeds in excess of 100mph. The driver has no idea what lies around the next bend and must rely entirely on instructions called out from the co-driver’s ‘Pace Notes’ to help negotiate whatever lies ahead.

The ability to react and control the vehicle when the unexpected happens is vital in rally racing. This kind of driving requires immense concentration, great reserves of endurance, lightning reactions and near-superhuman levels of skill.

Higgins current ride is a 2019 Subaru WRX STI.  He competes in the Open 4WD Class in the American Rally Association (ARA) National Championship.  For the 2019 season, Higgins’ Subaru sports the #1, in recognition of his status as the reigning National Champion.

Beginning with a stock 2019 Subaru WRX STI, the vehicle’s interior is stripped bare, the body shell is lightened and fully seam-welded, and a multipoint roll cage is added for extra strength.

The standard gas tank is replaced with a rally-proof Kevlar fuel cell and lightweight carbon/Kevlar competition seats with a HANS (Head and Neck Restraint System). Other interior additions include a custom carbon fiber dashboard, carbon fiber door panels, a Rally odometer and an onboard fire suppression system.

Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled STI engine with an ARA Championship-mandated 34mm turbo inlet restrictor. Launch control, a turbo anti-lag system and a hydraulic handbrake are just a few of the performance modifications. A 6-speed, close-ratio dog-engagement (fewer, larger teeth) gearbox is used, allowing Higgins to shift without the clutch. The DCCD (Driver Controlled Center Differential) is used in a similar way to a stock WRX STI, but the team installs a competition Electronic Control Unit for the differential, allowing for greater control of the torque delivery between all four wheels.

The exterior of the car implements a custom widebody kit as well as mud flaps and a 1/4-inch aluminum skid plate underneath. The stock rear wing is replaced with a larger vertically slotted wing, which greatly improves down force to the rear of the car, even as it slides sideways.

David is a well-respected performance driving instructor as well and when he isn’t racing in the states, he often travels the world doing one-on-one rally coaching to drivers of every level.

Cameron Steele

Cameron Steele

Pioneer – Advocate

Long before social media, Cameron Steele was doing social media. He is one of one of off-road’s early cross over pioneers, sharing his love for desert racing, adventure travel, and all things Baja with the world outside of the off-road community.  Johnny Campbell calls him “Baja’s biggest ambassador.”  Dan and Luke McMillin call him “Mr. Baja.”  Baja United Group dubbed him the “Baja Game Changer.” Whatever nickname you give him, no one represents the sport of off-road racing better than the Desert Assassin himself Cameron Steele.

Cameron’s love for Baja started with family trips in the 1970s. He was just two years old when he made his first journey south of the border.

“My future includes a lot of Baja. It’s a magical place,” Cameron said. “Once you race at Baja, it just gets in your blood. Some kids want to win the Indy 500, but I’ve always loved Baja. It’s like chasing a dream. Baja just draws you back again and again.”

Cameron is well known for his #16 Desert Assassins Trophy Truck. He chose the number 16 as an ode to his roots racing limited cars with 1600cc engines.  He is perhaps equally as well known for his Desert Assassins Baja lifestyle events like ‘Rip to Cabo’, ‘Trail of Missions,’ and the ‘Baja Beach Bash’ that he hosts with fellow 2018 inductee Johnny Campbell.  The Baja lifestyle events got their start in 2005 with Cameron’s first group effort, the ‘We Love Our Wives’ trip.

Cameron came on to the National scene as an announcer in an unlikely fashion. He had entered the 1998 ESPN X Games Freestyle moto qualifier.  The promoter didn’t have an announcer and offered Cameron the job. Cameron had originally planned on competing but decided to ask how much the announcing job paid.  The promoter replied, “Better than 10th place.”  With more than 40 entries in his division, Cameron assessed the options and chose the announcing job over competing. Later on, he became the analyst for the same show, and landed his first TV commentating position. His second on-air position was the 1999 Summer X Games in San Francisco.

The on-air experience with the X Games led to work with the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, Supercross, Motocross, IRL and Triple Crown Programming on ESPN. Cameron was the lead reporter for the Champ Car World Series for three years. He co-hosted MTV Sports and Music Festival events, and many other specialties programming shows, working for all the major networks.  He partnered with ABC on the Monster Energy Rip to Cabo presented by Honda, and Monster Energy Trail of Missions presented by BFGoodrich. Cameron has also written articles for publications including Dirt Sports and Wide Open. He has a natural talent for sharing his enthusiasm and excitement for adventure through varied media sources and social media channels, bringing listeners, readers, and viewers along for the exciting ride that is the life of Cameron Steele.

Cameron is married to Heidi Steele, a successful desert racer in her own right. Heidi was named Dirt Sports Driver of the Year in 2008. The couple appeared in together in a popular Yokohama Tire commercial, playing a game of automotive ‘Duck, Duck, Goose.’  Their daughter Kay was born in 2012.

The Steele family has supported the Rancho Santa Marta orphanage in San Vicente, Baja, for more than 30 years. Co-inductee Johnny Campbell is involved with the orphanage as well. Cameron has also helped coordinate hurricane relief with fellow off-road racers through a group called Baja Strong.

Baja has brought Cameron heartache as well. His good friend Jeff ‘Ox’ Kargola died from injuries sustained in motorcycle accident during a Baja trip in 2011. Cameron, Johnny Campbell, and many of Jeff’s friends constructed a giant ‘OX’ memorial spanning 30-feet across near Baja’s Diablo Dry Lake Bed, complete with a time capsule where well-wishers can leave notes to be read many years from now.

Cameron’s latest venture is Baja HQ, billed as a new way for the Steele family to share their love for off-roading and Baja. The idea for Baja HQ has been brewing for years, but Cameron put it on hold to focus on preparing his Desert Assassins SCORE Trophy Truck team for the 50th Baja 1000 in November of 2017, where he came away with a 2nd place overall finish.

Edit:  In November of 2018, shortly after being inducted in the Hall of Fame, Cameron achieved a life long goal of winning the Baja 1000.

Contributors:  Eric Morley, Blue C Advertising and Baja United Group; SCORE International; San Clemente Times

Ed Robinson

Ed Robinson

Special Achievement – Organization

In 1975, Ed Robinson was part of a dune buggy club in northern California’s Sacramento valley that had no off-road events on their calendar. That same year, he stepped forward to promote off-road races, founding Valley Off-Road Racing Association, better known as VORRA.

With the help of a local motocross promoter, Ed put together the first year of short course races at venues in Dixon and Plymouth, California. After the first year, Ed went out on his own as the sole proprietor running VORRA.

Ed continued to open new venues in northern California each year, including short course races at Marysville, Baylands Raceway Park in Fremont, Hollister Hills, Placerville Speedway and Prairie City in Sacramento.  Desert racing became part of the schedule in VORRA’s second year, with the first event near the tiny town of Weeks in the neighboring state of Nevada. Ed continued to expand VORRA’s desert racing program in Nevada, adding races in Yerington, Reno, Dayton, Fernley, Fallon, Lovelock, Hawthorne, and the historic Comstock in Virginia City.

VORRA helped boost the racing careers of many racers, including Sherman Balch, who went on to race with Factory Nissan; Sam Berri, a successful Best in the Desert class 1500 racer; Kevin Kroyer, of Kroyer Racing Engines; and the Moss Brothers, Don and Ken. The iconic Moss Brothers’ Bronco went on to become one of the winningest vehicles in SCORE racing history, with more than 30 wins between 2002-08.

Ed founded VORRA for the working man. Race weekends were set up so that the racers could maintain their Monday through Friday jobs and not miss any days of work. The big summer 3-day weekends, Memorial Day and Labor Day, were always VORRA desert race weekends.

A working man himself, Ed ran VORRA while maintaining a 40-plus hour per week career in construction, along with raising his son Troy and daughter Trisha, with his wife Jenny.

Under Ed’s direction, VORRA races were always on time and well organized. The entry fees were kept as low as possible, so the average person could afford to race. VORRA was founded on the concept of the Sportsman racer and continues to offer a Sportsman class for new drivers.

Ed ran VORRA for 25 years. He sold the race series in 2000. After retiring from both his work career and VORRA, Ed spent the next few years volunteering occasionally with VORRA, as well as with SCORE, Best in the Desert, and SNORE, doing recovery and operations. Slowing down the past few years due to health

reasons, Ed and Jenny still attend races as their travels permit.

In 2018, VORRA entered its 43rd year, with its 5th owner, still with the primary goal of providing the every day working man with a fun and safe environment to enjoy the thrill of off-road competition.

Photo: Ed Robinson in 2018.

 

Edit:  VORRA’s 5th owner, Ultra4 Racing’s Dave Cole, gifted VORRA back to the Robinson family at the 2018 Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction & Awards Ceremony. Ed’s son Troy, friends and family, are looking forward to bringing VORRA back for the every man (and woman) racer.

Contributor: Troy Robinson

Robbie Pierce

Robbie Pierce

Pioneer – Industry

They say that nice guys finish last, but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to Robbie Pierce. He has combined his competitive spirit for racing with his experience as a pioneer in vehicle safety to create a win-win for the off-road community.

Even when he isn’t the first racer across the finish line, Robbie still wins by gaining valuable first-hand knowledge about the fitment and durability of his products, using that knowledge to develop new and better products.

With a reputation for being able to weld anything and everything while adhering to the most painstaking tolerances, Robbie has impressive resume that includes numerous aerospace assignments. He humbly admits to having ‘just a few’ of his welding projects currently in orbit, circling the planet Earth.

Back down to Earth, Robbie developed the mass production method for welding titanium golf club heads, revolutionizing the golf industry.  It was Robbie’s passion for keeping off-road racers safe, however, that would define his career and his legacy.

Robbie became CEO of MasterCraft Safety in 1999 and expanded the business with the purchase of Impact from safety pioneer Bill Simpson in 2010.  When Robbie took over the reins at MasterCraft Safety he had already been doing fabrication work on their seat frames for nearly fifteen years in his San Diego based aerospace welding and machine shop. “Honestly, at the time it never occurred to me to purchase MasterCraft, even though in hindsight it seems so obvious. I had always thought of myself as a specialty metals and aerospace welder and that was the path I had always taken,” said Robbie. “The seat frames were always the extra business and it was nice to have but it was the specialty welding that paid the bills,” he added.

Many safety product innovations in the off-road industry have been developed, refined and expanded under Robbie’s leadership, from helmets and restraints, to driving suits and gloves. His seat time in the race truck led to such innovative products as the Impact Air Draft system, with a unique offset air port designed to clear overhead tube work inside the vehicle.

Robbie sold Impact by MasterCraft Safety to the Italian firm Sparco in 2017. Less than a year later, Robbie announced his acquisition of Jimco Racing, a successful manufacturer of off-road racing vehicles.  Jimco’s talented craftsmen have built and developed more than 500 race cars, trucks and UTVs leading to hundreds of victories and championships around the world.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” Robbie said, referring to his recent purchase of Jimco Racing.  Robbie purchased Jimco from Mike Julson’s step-son, Matt Loiodice. Mike’s father Jim founded Jimco in the mid-1970s. Mike had this to say about Robbie’s purchase of Jimco Racing:

 “My dream is that in ten years I can walk through The Mint 400 or Baja 1000 pits and still see the Jimco brand still going strong. This is the right move at the right time…you have to be a powerhouse – or you will be a memory.”

Jimco has a good opportunity to be that powerhouse under Robbie’s direction. With more than 40 years of hands on fabrication knowledge, race experience, and leadership skills, Robbie is one of the most respected – and well liked – members of the off-road community.

Robbie has donated and sponsored safety products to many fledgling racers, pit organizations, series and sanctioning bodies over the years, and has been a tremendous resource and advocate for safer racing practices. He has quietly donated his time and money to orphanages in Baja, and financially supports Rancho Sordo Mundo, a school for the deaf in Baja. Partnering with BFGoodrich and fellow racer Gustavo Vildosola, Robbie organized the transport of essential goods to the people of Baja following hurricanes.

Profile Image Credit: Vincent Knakal

Jimco Racing Credit: Daniel C Photography

Contributors: Rusty Megois, Rusty’s Off Road; ORMHOF inductee Marty Fiolka; Harry Wagner, and Kelli Willmore

Mark McMillin

Mark McMillin

Competition – Off-Road Racing

Mark joins his late father Corky as the first father and son to be inducted in the Off-Road Hall of Fame, a fitting tribute to the family behind the off-road dynasty that is the Big Blue M.

As part of one of the most storied and successful teams in off-road racing history, Mark’s passion for supporting the industry, for victory, and for setting the highest bar possible — while still making sure he and all around him are having the time of their lives doing it — is a Hall of Fame worthy achievement. This five-time Baja 1000 overall champion enjoyed considerable success behind the wheel, but his real story extends far beyond being a great race car driver.

Mark started his race career more than 40 years ago, driving a borrowed Class 9 car at the 1976 SCORE Baja 1000, a race he would dominate in the 1980s, with a remarkable five overall victories, in 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1988.  Baja was, and continues to be, Mark’s favorite place to race. He also has wins to his credit south of the border at the SCORE Baja 500, SCORE San Felipe 250, and the NORRA Mexican 1000, where he brought his famous “Macadu” Chenowth-Porsche out of retirement for the inaugural event in 2010. That commitment helped influence a great number of other racers to join the vintage off-road movement and create what today is known as “The Happiest Race on Earth.”

Mark also had success as a racer in the United States, with many overall and class victories, including an overall win at The Great American Off-Road Race, The Mint 400, in 1988.

At the 2017 NORRA Mexican 1000, Mark received his third prestigious BILSTEIN Madonna Award. The Madonna award is given to “an individual who wins a championship in a major American racing series, displays sportsmanship and positive character traits on and off the track, and possesses an intense desire to win while overcoming adversities.”

The Big Blue M of McMillin Racing has been synonymous with off-road racing for five decades. Three generations of McMillins, including Mark’s late father Corky (also a Hall of Fame Inductee), Mark’s brother Scott, Mark’s niece Jessica, nephew Andy, and sons Dan and Luke, have campaigned more than 40 race vehicles and competed in over 300 races, with more than 700 race entries, resulting in more than 250 class podium victories. The McMillins have combined for more than 100 race victories and 50 overall titles. The McMillin Racing history is meticulously documented and cataloged in one of the largest private collections of off-road racing memorabilia, publications, maps, and history in the sport. Much of this historic collection is documented in the book, “Big Blue M: The McMillin Racing Story” published in 2015, co-authored by Mark and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Marty Fiolka.

Mark’s success in off-road is balanced by a highly successful business career. A graduate of San Diego State University (SDSU), Mark is president of The McMillin Companies, his family’s San Diego based real estate firm. Mark was just 14 when he started working for his father, sweeping up construction debris at a job site. He worked his way through almost every job in the company. When Mark entered college, he wanted to enroll in a construction program, but SDSU didn’t have one. In fact, such a program didn’t exist in the whole state of California.  In true Mark McMillin fashion, he worked to provide a solution, and today is the driving force behind the Construction Engineering and Management Program at SDSU’s College of Engineering.

Mark has been married to his wife C’Ann for 31 years. They have three children, Dan, Macy, and Luke.  Inspired by his daughter Macy, Mark is also a long-time member of the board of directors of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego.  Another one of Mark’s many philanthropic pursuits is his support of the SDSU Baja Engineering Team, a program that encourages college level students to pursue engineering excellence through  building and racing off-road vehicles for collegiate competitions hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Mark is a past president of the Building Industry Association (BIA) of San Diego County—a position also held by his late father Corky–and has served on the association’s board of directors. He also served on the California Major Builders Council for the California Building Industry Association and on the board of directors for the National Association of Homebuilders. In 1996, the BIA named Mark McMillin as their Industry Professional of the Year. Mark was inducted into the California Home Building Hall of Fame in 2008. Also in 2008, then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Mark to a four-year term on the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission.  Mark is proud to have been able to represent the off-road community at the state level.

What Mark has accomplished behind the wheel is impressive, but what he does behind the scenes is perhaps even more telling of the character of this Hall of Fame inductee.  Mark’s generosity toward his fellow racers, crew members, and the off-road community in general, is well known. Always willing to lend a hand, loan a part, or offer a ride, it would be hard to find a team in off-road that doesn’t have stories to tell about Mark’s willingness to help his fellow racers and his fun-spirited sense of humor.

In 2015, legendary racer and Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame chairman, Rod Hall, approached Mark, asking him to become ORMHOF’s next chairman. Mark happily accepted the job leading ORMHOF’s all-volunteer board. Over the past three years, Mark has worked to fulfill the organization’s mission to recognize and honor those individuals and organizations whose lifelong contributions to off-road motorsports have set a standard for others to follow.

Contributor: Marty Fiolka, The RennSport Group and ORMHOF Inductee

Johnny Campbell

Johnny Campbell

Competition – Motorcycle

A record 11 SCORE Baja 1000 titles and an incredible 17 Baja 1000 wins in a row are just two of a long list of impressive statistics that solidify Johnny Campbell’s rightful place in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Johnny is the son of a hard working father, John Campbell Sr, who ran a grading business in San Clemente, California. John enjoyed racing on the weekends, and although he passed away when Johnny was still a teenager, his legacy of hard work and love for racing shaped the man and champion his son would become.

In 1989 Baja came calling.  Johnny pre-ran the Baja 1000 with Craig Adams, on a borrowed XR350.  The next year he entered his first race, the San Felipe 250. In 1991, Johnny teamed up with champion Baja racer and Honda factory rider Bruce Ogilvie. “It started as pit support and small conversations, and he saw some raw talent in me; a guy who was young and hungry to win with some desire. Bruce called me in 1992 and asked me to ride his Honda XR600 and we finished second overall that year at the SCORE Baja 1000.”

The relationship with Ogilvie and Honda shaped Johnny’s career for decades to come, leading to an impressive list of championships and major wins:

CHAMPIONSHIPS

SCORE Desert Series Class 22 (Open Pro) – 1997-2000, 2002-08

Best in the Desert (Silver State Open Pro) – 1995, 2000, 2004-05

AMA District 37 Big 6 Grand Prix Series – 1995-96, 2000, 2003

AMA District 37 Best of the West Series – 1996

AMA District 37 Enduro Series (Four Stroke) – 1995

24-Hour Off-Road World Endurance – 1995, 1999, 2001

MAJOR WINS – 1ST OVERALL

Baja 1000 – 1997-2005, 2007-08

Baja 500 – 1997-98, 2002-04

San Felipe 250 – 1998-2000, 2002-04, 2008

Vegas to Reno – 2001, 2004-05, 2007

Terrible’s Town 250 – 2001-03, 2005

HYR 24 Hours of Glen Helen – 1999, 2006

In 2001, Johnny finished 8th overall (1st privateer) at the Paris-to-Dakar Rally.  He has returned to Dakar as a navigator for Robby Gordon. The duo won three stages at Dakar in 2012.

Johnny is recognized as one of the industry’s top development riders. He played a significant role in the development of Honda’s XR600, XR650, CRF450X and CRF450RX. He also worked for HGA (Honda Japan) in the development of the CRF450 Rally machine. His mark is on many products, including apparel, soft and hard parts.

In 2008, Johnny launched Team JCR/Honda with the blessing of Bruce Ogilvie and Honda. Johnny recruited the most talented off-road riders, and together, they crushed the competition. Throughout the years, Team JCR/Honda has amassed a record setting 17 Baja 1000 championships, a feat that will undoubtedly be in the record books for some time. Johnny’s impact on Baja reaches far beyond his incredible race career, through his support of children and orphanages in many communities south of the border.

Humility and leadership on and off the bike add to Johnny’s reputation as a champion. He gladly shares his opinions on bike set up, race strategy and life. He is driven by more than championships; his fuel comes from the opportunity to make the next generation of racers faster, safer and smarter.

Building a dynasty like Johnny did for Honda is not a solo endeavor, and this humble champion is the first to give credit to his mentor, the late Bruce Ogilvie, as well as the many people who are lucky enough to call him a friend, teammate or boss.

Johnny Campbell is often referred to as THE True Champion because of the life he leads on and off the bike.

Contributor: Roger Norman, SCORE International

Jim Bramham

Jim Bramham

“A Walking Encyclopedia” and “Historian Supreme” of institutional OHV knowledge is how one of many letters of recommendation for Jim Bramham refers to this Class of 2018 inductee.

Jim was inducted in the Pioneer – Advocate category, in recognition of his more than thirty years of off-road advocacy work, from his early years as a volunteer to the presidency of the California Four Wheel Drive Association (Cal 4 Wheel), and many roles in between.

During his decades long relationship with Cal 4 Wheel, that continues to this day, Jim has served the Association as event chair, board of directors’ member, and natural resource consultant. Throughout his long history of event leadership and participation, he has helped the organization earn hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund legislative and land-use outreach at every level. His presidency pushed the organization to the forefront of both state and national recognition and respect.

Jim’s vision for Cal 4 Wheel included a permanent facility that could be used for an office, meeting space, event equipment storage, and association gatherings. To that end, Jim located and negotiated for the building and property that houses the organization and offers meeting space for like-minded groups and functions.

As the first person to represent Cal 4 Wheel at The SEMA Show, Jim worked to gain acceptance for the 4-Wheel Drive community in the mainstream automotive industry. Jim was also instrumental with Cal 4 Wheel and other associations in the creation of the North American Motorized Recreation Council.

Jim’s leadership abilities and knowledge led to his appointment as a commissioner on the California Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission in 1996, where he served for four years. He helped organize ‘free days’ at State Vehicle Recreation Areas that highlighted local partnerships and responsible recreation. An advocate for safety and education, Jim’s leadership guided State Parks to include four-wheel drive safety and education training areas at a majority of its facilities, many offering Driver Certification classes conducted by Cal 4 Wheel volunteers.

Seeing the need for a grassroots element, Jim was extremely active in the creation of Friends of Oceano Dunes. Jim worked on this issue at the Park, with the county, at the California state capital, and before the Coastal Commission. The early framework that Jim helped create has led to maintaining OHV recreation in one of the most contentious environments possible. Noting the success of the Friends of Oceano, Jim continued the ‘Friends of’ effort with the creation of Friends of Sand Mountain. This grassroots organization was pivotal in keeping OHV recreation access open at this popular Nevada sand destination.

Environmental pressures on the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (aka Glamis) and Dumont Dunes Recreation Area led to court mandated closure of hundreds of acres of dunes to OHV use. Jim was involved in studies that were initiated that used scientific data to support the reversal of the closures by the judicial system, allowing the dunes to be reopened to OHV use.

Jim created a Memorandum of Understanding between State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management that created Technical Review Teams (TRT), which became the conduit for visitor input and representation on critical management decisions. The TRTs were recognized all the way to Washington DC as a success story in public land management. Jim served on the TRTs for more than 15 years.

Jim knew that the ‘’Duner” was the one of the least organized and most under represented public land users in California. He worked to provide the group with a voice, credibility, and a conduit for action through creation of the American Sand Association, where he continues as a board member to this day.

As part of the largest endangered species population study ever done, Jim worked in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. He coordinated housing, food service and dune transportation for 50 hikers and staff. Jim was also called on to provide logistics for a survey in the West Mojave Desert. The information gathered from these surveys was included in the Recreation Area Management Plan that now guides dune management. This plan included the largest area ever closed to OHV use to be reopened by the court, as a direct result of the information gathered.

Jim’s passion for off road took him across state lines to Nevada once again, when he took on the logistics role for the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, which involved housing and feeding ten two-man teams of 4WD, ATV, and motorcycle riders, collecting off highway route information.

Working as a guide, Jim is a sought after leader who has conducted tours enjoyed by international, national, and local individuals and groups. He has led an untold number of historic and SUV-oriented trips throughout the west. His passion has always been to share the sport he loves with others. Jim concentrates on bringing his knowledge of outdoors, love of history and mechanical experience to many first-timers and interested veterans of the sport.

Contributor: Bonnie Steele, Cal 4 Wheel

Dave Ekins

39 hours and 56 minutes.  Dave Ekins and his riding partner, Bill Robertson, were the first to establish a timed and documented record from Tijuana to La Paz on a motorcycle. It was March of 1962 when the duo set the record that became the precursor to the race that would become the Mexican 1000 and today’s Baja 1000.
NORRA founder and Hall of Fame member Ed Pearlman presented Dave Ekins with the coveted number 1 motorcycle plate, to commemorate the historic  1,000 mile motorcycle run down the Baja Peninsula.
Dave and his brother Bud grew up riding motorcycles in the hills above Los Angeles.  During his teenage years, Dave was more interested in cars than motorcycles. “It was easier to date a girl in a car,” he explained.

Once he turned his focus back to two wheels, it wasn’t long before Dave was becoming well known, like his brother Bud. In 1954, he won his class at the Catalina Grand Prix, establishing himself as one of the leading riders on the West Coast. One of Dave’s proudest accomplishments is winning gold in the International Six Day Trial, one of the longest running and most prestigious motorcycle events in the world. Dave competed in five ISDTs over the years.

Another one of Dave’s many accomplishments is being the first motorcycle rider ever sponsored by American Honda. In 1961, he was among the first group of Honda representatives to travel to Japan. In 1988, Dave was honored at the 50 years American Honda event in New York.

Harley Davidson came calling, asking Dave to design their 100cc HD Baja motorcycle. The HD team that Dave put together included Hall of Fame inductee Larry Roeseler.  Dave, Larry and their team dominated AMA District 37 competition and made their way into Baja racing history.

In 1967, Dave began a 10 year career as a motorcycle magazine editor, when he accepted a position with Cycle Magazine. Dave also worked at Modern Cycle, launching Dirt Rider, one of the first off-road motorcycle magazines, and later working at Motorcyclist magazine.

Dave is also an innovator. In the 1970s, he developed the first kidney belt to feature a Velcro-fastener. In another business venture, Dave founded Sunline, a motorcycle aftermarket parts company.

The Ekins brothers, Dave and Bud, are both members of the AMA Hall of Fame, and now Dave will join Bud as a member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.