Author Archives: Barbara Rainey

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.

Cliff Flannery

They call it the dirt ‘Field of Dreams’, 400 acres of off-road nirvana in Crandon, Wisconsin.  Crandon International Raceway plays host to home town races as well as some of the largest televised short course events in the world.

While his brother Jack was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his racing success, Cliff is the one who provided his brother Jack, and countless other racers, the opportunity to race at a world class facility.

Crandon Raceway is one of the few off-road facilities outside of the American Southwest, and has been Cliff’s life work for nearly 50 years.

The dream of Crandon Raceway was born in 1968, after a group that would become known as the Wolfs Head Sportsman Club watched a broadcast of the Mexican 1000 on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  The group decided to hold their own race through the woods around the tiny Northwoods Wisconsin town of Crandon. The track was originally a 101-mile race consisting of four 25-mile loops and a big mud pit.

By the mid-1970s, under Cliff Flannery’s leadership, the group decided to build upon the success of their race and purchase land just one mile from downtown Crandon. It was on this ground that Cliff Flannery began to build the largest short-course facility of its type in the world. Cliff has continued to grow and improve the facility over the years, and in 2016 Crandon hosted the inaugural Crandon World Cup, the first independent off-road short course ‘Super Bowl’ that is part of the prestigious Red Bull Signature Series.

While creating and managing a facility like Crandon is certainly a Hall of Fame worthy achievement, it was Cliff Flannery’s philanthropic work that made the biggest impact on the voting committee.  Each year, Crandon donates nearly $70,000 to support local youth and charity organizations, a tradition started by Cliff Flannery decades ago. Over the years, the donations from Crandon Raceway have had an economic impact of more than $2 million in the local community of only 1,300 residents. Crandon Raceway also provides up to $30,000 in college scholarships to local students each year.

The Citizens of Crandon, Wisconsin received the 2017 Volunteer Award from the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Bob Gordon

He won so many races south of the border that he earned the well-deserved nickname of “Baja Bob’.  The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame is proud to welcome Legacy Inductee Bob Gordon.

Bob was introduced to the sport of off-road racing by Frank ‘Scoop’ Vessels, also a Hall of Fame inductee. Bob Gordon quickly found success behind the wheel of one of the ‘BFG Blazers’ as part of a two car team sponsored by BFGoodrich Tires.

In the 1980s and 90s, Bob built a relationship with Chenowth and started racking up an impressive list of victories.

In 1987, Bob won the Baja 1000 with Malcolm Smith, and teamed up with son Robby and daughter Robyn to win again in 1990.  After retiring from racing to help Robby run his off road programs, Bob brought his favorite Chenowth, affectionately known as ‘Betsy’ out of retirement to compete for several years in the NORRA Mexican 1000, where he was the overall winner in 2010, 2011, and 2015. Bob passed away in 2016.

A statement from the Gordon family reads, “The Gordon Family would like to thank everyone for making this possible for our father, ‘Baja Bob’ Gordon to be inducted in to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. He would be humbled and honored to be recognized alongside racing legends and friends; Scoop Vessels, Malcolm Smith, Parnelli Jones, Mickey Thomspon, Walker Evans, and Ivan Stewart. Desert racing and Baja have become an integral part of our lives. Baja will never be the same without him, but his legacy and spirit will race on. We know he will be with us at every race mile marker along the way.”

Photo (Below):  March 7, 1984 — The father-and-son team of Bob and Robby Gordon made it two-in-a-row at the HDRA Gold Coast 300, once again claiming both the overall victory and Class 2 honors in the BFGoodrich-equipped Chenowth-Porsche desert buggy. Plagued by a broken power steering pump that forced 18-year-old Robby to stop five times on the final lap for repairs, the Gordons still managed to finish more than 10 minutes ahead of their nearest competitor.

Bill Savage

College student Bill Savage opened TMAG welding in 1972.  After spectating the Baja 1000 in 1974, Bill was hooked. It took him several years, between finishing college and managing his busy shop, before his first car was ready to race. Bill entered the 1979 Baja 1000, winning his class.
TMAG has designed and built a wide variety of innovative off-road parts and vehicles, including a VW production parts, off-road shocks, steering systems, and one of the first all tube space frame trucks ever built.

Among his many business ventures, Bill partnered with Todd Clement and started Wide Open Baja, a tour company that would give non-racers the Baja 1000 experience. The prototype cars were built at TMAG, with another 42 cars being built at Todd’s Horsepower Ranch in Baja. In subsequent years, Bill relocated his company and changed the name from TMAG to SPD Products. Speed and Performance by Design (SPD) built off-road trucks that went on to win many races, including the Baja 500 and Baja 1000.

It was then that NASA came calling, inviting Bill to attend a meeting with NASA engineers. They wanted Bill’s help in designing and building a new Lunar Rover. Bill jumped at the chance. SPD built three Lunar Rovers, and helped with testing. NASA wasn’t done with Bill yet, next it was a Mars Rover they were wanting. SPD went on to build two Mars Rovers for NASA, and have since been involved with several more NASA projects.

Throughout his career as an off-road innovator, Bill has always circled back to his interest in keeping the racers safe. He has written the rule books for every major off-road association for the past 37 years.  Bill has spent countless hours organizing teams to manage pre- and post-tech race inspections, a thankless and controversial job to say the least. Bill continues his quest to keep the racers safe in his current position as Technical Director for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.

Tracy Valenta

Tracy Valenta began off-road racing in 1971 and soon his passion for the sport exploded.  One of his many significant impacts on the world of off-road motorsports was his promoting a foundation of a Team concept and a professional image for his drivers and as a team owner.  Tracy and his Party Ice team were considered the premier off-road racing organization of the 1970s and ‘80s by the media, race promoters as well as by his competitors.  He promoted his team to increase publicity to not only put fans in the stands, but to help his competitors as well harvest sponsorships and grow the sport.

Tracy’s team consisted of some of the most talented drivers in off-road racing including legendary Malcom Smith and Bud Feldkamp, Rick and Roger Mears, stunt drivers Bobby Ferro and Kitty O’Neal plus rock legend Ted Nugent.  Also motocross superstars Bob Hannah, Marty Tripes and Sue Fish.

They achieved victories at all major desert, closed course and stadium race events from the wilds of Baja and Southern California deserts to stadium races in L. A., Pasadena, San Diego, Anaheim, Pomona and Phoenix.  In addition, Tracy’s team raced and won at far flung venues in Seattle, Michigan, New York as well as British Columbia, Montreal and Quebec, Canada.  Tracy’s achievements in size, scope and sponsorships were unparalleled during his tenure in the sport.

Larry Ragland

The legend “Lightning Larry” Ragland needs to introduction. In fact, it would be hard to tell the history of off-road without Larry Ragland.

In 1976 Larry started his off-road career on dirt bikes. He would win on every level of racing he ever entered, and the wins were often followed by championships.

Larry moved to Class 1 Unlimited, partnering with Jim Halford in Jim’s FUNCO. It only took three races before the duo hit their stride, winning the 1981 Parker 400 overall. They didn’t stop there, and went on to win the Baja 500 and San Felipe 250.

By 1983 Larry decided it was time to have a car of his own and build his own team. The Woodstuff Chaparral Class 1 would start winning races soon after. Larry’s first SCORE championship for Class 1 came in 1983. In 1984 Larry continued his winning ways and earned a second consecutive championship.

In the early days, Larry was known for not prerunning the race course. His logic was, ‘don’t drive faster than you can see and you’ll be all right.’  Larry’s logic served him well, and he went on to win two straight Frontier 500s and the Mint 400 overall.

Larry’s hard work and success brought him to the attention of Chevrolet. He became a factory driver in a Class 7 mini truck, winning multiple races and a Class 7 championship between 1986 and 1989.

In 1990 Larry moved up to the prerunner truck division known as Class 8, where he earned two more championships and his first Baja 1000 overall win. The age of the Trophy Truck dawned in 1995, and Larry was ready. with tV and full factory support, off-road racing had hit the big time. The field was stacked with the best drivers that off-road racing had to offer. Larry didn’t disappoint, earning four more Baja 1000 overall wins. A remarkable achievement.

Over the next ten years, Larry would race with Brian Collins, Roger Norman, and raced for a short time with the Toyota team. His resume of wins continued to grow, with four more Baja 500s, the Parker 400, Primm 300, Nevada 1000, Vegas to Reno and Terribles Town 250. Larry’s success went beyond traditional off-road, winning at both the Atlas Rally and Pikes Peak.

Photo credit: Mad Media

 

Jim Ober

For many in our sport, we are behind the wheel, chasing the dust, the sun, and the never ending rough terrain. We get to the finish to start telling our stories about what happened during the race. But telling the stories and seeing what actually happened are two different things. And this is what separates Jim Ober from the racers, fabricators and crews. Jim captured those moments, in the middle of nowhere, on his own. He pioneered the profession of off-road photo journalism.

Trackside Photo was born in the early days of off-road racing. Jim was one of the only photographers to capture and preserve what would turn into a rich history, where a single photo could tell an entire story.  Trackside Photo is also where dozens of photographers got their start in the industry.  Jim’s photographers were taught how to shoot safely and respect the land. Trackside Photo’s dynamic action shots of off-road racing in the US and Baja accompanied stories in newspaper and magazines, the only event coverage available at the time.

Jim Ober and Trackside Photo have been recognized throughout the off-road industry, earning the SCORE Photographer of the Year award a remarkable 17 times.

Without Trackside Photo’s photographic record documenting 40 years of off-road, much of the history of the sport would be lost forever.