Author Archives: bryan novak

Gilmon ‘Gil’ George

In 1967, Gil George began fabricating tube framed buggy chassis for the fledgling sport of off-road racing. He called his company Funco, short for “Fun Company”. Over the course of the next 15 years, George’s Funco chassis was the dominant force in desert racing, winning the coveted title of SCORE Chassis Manufacturer of the Year five times. Along the way Funco introduced innovations for buggies such as long travel rear suspensions, the first independent rear suspension, the first disc brake systems and developed the “Char-Lynn’ power steering system for buggies. In the early 90’s Gil partnered with son Grant to create the “Big 5” Buggy, which is one of the best handling vehicles in the sand car market, today. A true family business, there are three generations of the George family in the shop every day working with Gil on what has become the entire family passion. For Gil, it has never been about the money. Whether he is in the shop welding, at home with a scratch pad designing a new steering box or chassis, or out playing in the dunes with the family, he is always thinking about how to make off-road machines faster, better or safer.  Editor’s note: Gilmon ‘Gil’ George passed away in October 2019.

Frank Vessels

Frank Vessels enjoyed a successful career in off-road racing that spanned three decades and included 30 major race victories and four Points Championships. In 1972 Scoop was SCORE’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ and was honored as SCORE’s ‘Offroadsman of the Year’ in 1978. However, driving was just a part of Vessel’s many contributions to the sport. He always worked to help the sport develop a broader audience and to grow into the public mainstream. His 1980 SCORE Baja 1000 win, which was featured on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, was a part of that effort. Through his involvement with the “American Thunder” program, Scoop brought his long-time relationship with BFGoodrich into an alliance with Chevrolet and Mobile Oil. Not only did the resulting media machine represent his program on and off the track but it’s success motivated other companies and drivers to model their off-road racing programs in similar fashion. Scoop is one of the true pioneers who helped take the sport from it’s infancy into the modern era of corporate support and wide audience recognition.

Edo Ansaloni

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Hall of Fame inductee Edo Ansaloni of Italy on January 31, 2020.

While we honor Edo for his achievements in off-road, he should be remembered and honored for his heroic efforts on behalf of his homeland during World War II’s crucial Battle of Bologna in 1945.

At 4 am on April 9, 1945, the offensive on Bologna began. Edo was one of the first to warn of the Germans’ advance on the town. American and British troops came to the aid of weary Polish forces who had been battling the Germans, and the combined forces fought successfully to secure Bologna and defeat the invading German troops.

Throughout the nearly two week long battle, Edo took to the streets, risking his life to document the invasion through the lens of his camera.

Edo dedicated the rest of his life to honoring the sacrifice of those who fought to defend freedom, opening the Memorial Museum of Liberty in Bologna.

Born in Bologna in 1925, Edo grew up on his father’s farm, in northern Italy, where he learned about cars salvaging and converting military vehicles, for use as farm equipment during World War II.

Edo quickly developed an appreciation of the 4X4 capabilities of the Jeep ‘MB’ and became a collector and off-road enthusiast in and around Bologna where he gathered a number of followers during the early years after World War II.

In 1969, Edo co-founded the “Club Nazionale Fouristrada” (national off road club), Italy’s first 4-wheeling club. In May of 1970 he won the first organized off-road race in Italy, on a modified motocross track in Monterenzio. In 1971 he won the first ‘International Trophy” and in the years to follow would participate in almost 100 Italian and European off-road championship events.

Edo Ansaloni is a national treasure in Italy; an innovator, an organizer, a competitor known throughout his country for his dedication to the discovery and love of off-roading in Italy.

Photo translation: Memorial Museum of Liberty “I address a thought to all those who gave their lives or who suffered for the conquest of freedom.” — Edo Ansaloni

Sal Fish

The long path that took Sal Fish to the top of desert racing began on May 2, 1939, when he was born in Los Angeles. He was educated in parochial schools; Transfiguration Grammar School and Loyola High, where he was class president three years and earned an industrial relations degree at the University of San Francisco.

After graduation he began working in his father’s auto repair business. Fish attended Rochester carburetor school, General Motors transmission school and Bendix brake school and was managing the family business. In 1966, he decided to take a job selling advertising for Petersen Publishing Company, a job which led him up the ladder to the publisher’s office. In 1970, Fish was traveling the country attending races for Hot Rod magazine when he met VW aftermarket parts manufacturer Joe Vittone, who eventually talked him into driving in a desert race in Baja California, Mexico. Fish and fellow Petersen employee Bob Weggeland started the race with no experience and no pre-run. In fact, Fish had never even been to Mexico.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Fish said. “I thought there would be a white line down the middle of the course. We had massacred our vehicle to put in creature comforts; we stockpiled food, spare tires and tools to work on the car. It was more an odyssey than a race, as far as we were concerned.” He recalled that most of the serious racers reached Lake Chapala in eight hours. Fish and Weggeland had driven 16 hours before they broke their transmission and they still hadn’t reached the Chapala checkpoint. Fortunately, one of Jim Garner’s mechanics stopped to help and towed them to Chapala.

“We went faster on a tow rope behind the mechanic than we had been going in the race,” Fish said, “and when we got there I wondered why we bothered. I had pictured this hacienda with senoritas serving cold drinks, but all we found were some families living in shacks and two cars to lean on. The checkpoint was closed.” Fish was recruited by the late Mickey Thompson, founder of SCORE International, soon after Mickey started it in 1973 and immediately began to make the organization and the sport more visible. He broadened exposure of the legendary SCORE Baja 1000 until it became the premiere desert race in the world, now covered by national and international television as well as journalists from around the world.

Fish developed TV coverage of the SCORE Off-Road World Championships at the old Riverside International Raceway and created a number of highlights that made it a unique spectator event. He developed the concept of “heavy metal” and “mini metal” divisions, pioneered a system of emergency medical response in the desert and created an independent review board to hear appeals by racers who have been penalized for rule infractions during the heat of competition. The SCORE Trophy-Truck class, for unlimited production trucks with upwards of 800 horsepower, was another innovation when he christened the division in 1994.

In late 1986 the team of Sal Fish, president and chief financial officer Ted Johnson, acquired full ownership of SCORE International. Long associated with Mickey Thompson, in reality, SCORE had been managed solely by Fish for many years leading up to the acquisition. Not long after that, SCORE joined with the late Walt Lott and Lott’s High Desert Racing Association (HDRA) to produce a combined championship series unparalleled in the world of off-road racing. Together, Fish and Lott organized the major manufacturers into an advisory committee, which served to recommend technical and safety rules to the organizers, assist with public relations and communicate to participants. The combined HDRA/SCORE series ran from 1985-1991. SCORE purchased HDRA outright, forming one organization in 1993.

A feature-length documentary, directed by Dana Brown, called ‘Dust To Glory’, was produced in association with SCORE International. Released in April, 2005, it is a tribute to the legendary Tecate/SCORE Baja 1000. The DVD sales of this unique movie continue today at a record pace.

Sal Fish is a man of vision. Over the years he has earned the respect of the off-road racing community and set a standard of leadership for future generations to follow.

Biography By Dominic Clark

Corky McMillin

The off-road community knows Macey L. Corky McMillin simply as Corky. Corky moved from Missouri to Chula Vista when he was 14. He started a small construction company in Bonita, California in 1960, with his wife, Vonnie looking after the accounting duties. In the mid-1960s, Corky McMillin, father of two young boys, enjoyed outdoor activities, including trips to the River and weekends at the dunes. He took his ten-year-old son, Mark, with him to the dunes, where he taught him to drive.

In the early ‘70s, Corky and Mark built a Baja Bug in their backyard so they could go to Baja to watch a friend, whom he sponsored, compete in the famed Baja 1000. In 1975 they went to serve as pit support for another friend. The friend’s effort wasn’t successful, and he parked the car under a tarp. The following year Corky borrowed the car so he and Mark could go race the Baja 1000 one time. They wanted to be able to say they’d done it.

Now they’ve done it, and done it and done it. Not only that, they’ve won it. Corky and Mark so loved the sport that they never quit going. They convinced Mark’s younger brother, Scott, to join in the fun, which he did a few years later, and he, too, became thoroughly involved. Corky’s record includes season class championships in 1981, 1985 and 1987. Corky’s enthusiasm worked like a pebble in a pond. The ripples kept spreading. His sons have become thoroughly enmeshed in the sport, so much so that Scott is involved in the sponsorship of the grass roots MDR/FUD series in the Superstition Mountains area, and Mark has recently been named to the California Off Highway Commission. Mark said, “My dad believed in giving back to everything that’s been good to us. Our families are functional, and we all believe that it’s because we did the sand dunes and the river and the off road activities as a family. Why not give back to that?” In addition, Corky so loved the sport that he imbued his grandchildren with his enthusiasm, and now there are two, Andy and Daniel, who are actively racing, and two, Macy and Luke, who ride whenever possible. Luke,13, already has a car, and impatiently awaits the time he’ll be old enough to race.

Corky’s reason for going on with the racing was in part because he “just loved it” and also because he loved the fact that the family was together. He also introduced many of his employees at the McMillin Companies to the sport, and his sons continue the tradition. If an employee expresses an interest in going to a race, he generally gets to go. The race team gets the employee a room or an experienced person to camp with. They show him a good time “feed him hotdogs” and by the end of the weekend, according to Mark, “he’s hooked.” A lot of ex-employees still go racing with them.

Corky was a part of many of the developments that have brought the sport of off-road racing to its current level. His teams were the first to invest time and money in the use of the heavier and more powerful Porsche 911 motors for off-road. Once they had ironed out the bugs, and proved it by winning the SCORE San Felipe race in 1983, other teams jumped on the bandwagon. From Porsches they moved on to Fords and then Chevies, always looking for ways to improve. For the last five years of his life Corky had been working hard to develop a new, beefier, off-road transmission. Only a couple of months before he passed away he’d finally decided it was good enough to use in competition. The team is now running one of Corky’s transmissions at selected events.

But perhaps it was the way he felt about the sport that endeared him to his off-road friends. He loved it. “And”, said Mark, “He loved what it taught you. To be successful, you’ve got to plan, got to practice (as in prerunning), then do it, and follow through.” Mark explained that the team would get back from a race and do a post mortem. They’d discuss how things could have been done better. Mark said, “He applied the same philosophies and lessons learned from racing back to the family business.” “Dad always told us, “Never, ever quit whatever you’re doin’ in life.” says Mark. Corky lived up to that maxim – racing and working at improving the racing, until he was 76 years old. He went from his race car to the hospital where he passed away in September of 2005.

He leaves a void that will never be filled.

Biography By Judy J. Smith

Ivan Stewart

Ivan Stewart, a legend in off-road racing, has made the nickname “Ironman” a reality. He has successfully accomplished the toughest obstacles in off-road racing, winning again and again. Stewart’s racing career began in 1973 at the ‘Ensenada 300’. He was scheduled to race in a Class 2 buggy with co-driver Bill Hrynko, but Hrynko suffered a broken leg prior to the event. Mechanic Earl Stah filled the seat next to him, and Stewart continued on to drive the entire race to victory. During the next ten years his winning streak continued to include 30 major race victories, four times ‘Driver of the Year’ and ‘Man of the Year’ in 1976, until he joined PPI Motorsports, Inc., Toyota’s factory-sponsored team, in 1983.

The combination of Stewart with Toyota was a perfect match, which resulted in instantaneous success in the desert and stadium acing. During his first two years behind the wheel of his Precision Preparation Inc. Motorsports (PPIM) – designed and built race truck, he earned six class victories, including two SCORE ‘World Championships’. For the next two years, he drove one of two Toyota truck entries in the mini and mid-size pickup class in both the SCORE and HDRA desert series. Stewart then became the only single-entry driver when Toyota moved to Class 1 in 1985. Stewart claimed Toyota’s first ‘Baja 1000’. That victory clinched his second SCORE Overall and Unlimited Class series championships, matching his 1990 record as the only driver in the series’ history to win both titles in the same year. The 1993 season was also significant as Team Toyota became the only manufacturer in history to sweep the “Crown Jewels” of desert racing, the ‘Nevada 500’, the ‘Baja 500’ and the ‘Baja 1000’, in the same season.

Stewart and several other talented Toyota teammates played an important role in Toyota’s dominance during the 12-year history of the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG) stadium series. Along with Stewart’s three driver’s championships, Toyota earned 11 manufacturer’s championships and 42 main event victories – nearly three times more than any other tuck team. Stewart holds the record for all-time MTEG wins with 17.

The 1998 season proved successful as Stewart won both the ‘Baja 500’ and ‘Baja 1000’. He earned his 17th ‘Baja 500’ win in 1999. Stewart has now accumulated 84 career victories and ten driver’s championships. The wins include 17 Baja 500s, eight Mint 400s, four Parker 400s, three Baja 1000s and four SCORE World Championships. Stewart’s driving talent is impeccable, but he will be the first to mention that it is the support of his friends and family that helps him get to the winner’s circle.

In addition to his on-track career, Stewart has taken to the role of series “founder” with his Protruck Racing Organization (PRO). A “spec” racing series with identical chassis, the popular Protrucks race as a special class at various events including Best in the Desert’s ‘Vegas to Reno’ race. To date Protruck has built 45 trucks during it’s ten year history.

Stewart is active in the community and serves as a role model for many children. He works with organizations including the Special Olympics and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The “Ironman” adopted a school for the deaf in Ensenada, Mexico where he visits and assists in fund raising efforts.

Stewart’s popularity with younger racing fans has created a market for his “Super Off- Road” video games. Starting out as an arcade game, “Super Off-Road” has been developed for the Nintendo and Sega platforms. In 1997, Midway Home Entertainment, Inc. released “Off-Road Challenge”, a sequel to the arcade game based on Stewart’s participation in the SCORE desert series, which set sales records at the time.

Ultimately, Stewart’s heart is in the dirt and sand of the desert. “I’ve always had a love for desert racing. It keeps my competitive nature as strong as ever”.

Biography By: Les Unger

Clark Collins

Clark Collins is an inductee in the Pioneer: Advocate Category Clark Collins off-highway vehicle (OHV) activism began as a leader in the Idaho Trail Machine Association (ITMA), a statewide group representing motorcyclists and ATVers. While testifying at a Wilderness hearing in 1984, he heard the testimony of the local Sierra Club representative and approached him after the hearing to see if they could work together. He got local snowmobilers and 4X4 enthusiasts involved into a little “working group”, and it seemed to work fine. Then suddenly the local politicians and then Governor, John Evans, were expressing their support for Wilderness designation of one of the local riding spots, the Mink Creek area of the Caribou National Forest. He asked the Sierra Club representative what was up and he said, “We have political support for Wilderness designation of this area, so we’re going for it.” That taught Clark two things: 1. You can’t trust Wilderness advocates because they want all the Wilderness they can get! 2. Recreationists had better get more politically involved or we’re going to be overrun by the Wilderness juggernaught.

Working with other recreationists, Clark was able to reverse virtually all the political support but the Governor. When he met with the Governor personally, he was told that “motorized recreationists are politically insignificant.” He also said that local Wilderness advocates had worked hard on a proposal to have Wilderness designated near Pocatello and this was where they wanted it. It didn’t matter to him that there were several trails in the area that were open to trail bikes and a regularly groomed snowmobile route. The Governor’s comment about our political ineffectiveness really motivated Clark to correctthat situation. Clark got motorized recreationists more involved in state politics and interested in Evans’ political future. His next political race happened to be against U.S. Senator Steve Symms. Senator Symms took an interest in recreational access issues and asked for ORV support. Motorize recreationists played a significant role in that election and Senator Symms was re-elected. Evans hasn’t been considered a serious candidate for office since. Clark proved that a coalition of recreation groups can be politically significant if they set their mind to it. In the winter of 1987, he worked on a volunteer basis with other recreationists in Idaho seeking passage of legislation to update Idaho’s OHV recreation program. To assist with this legislative effort, he received a grant from the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). Clark formally incorporated the Idaho Public Land Users Association in 1987 to help with the state legislative effort. He also got involved in broader land use issues and worked closely with Idaho resource industry groups. Then Darryl Harris, publisher of SnoWest magazine, contacted him about going national with the organization and calling it the Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC).

The Blue Ribbon Coalition was incorporated in April 1987. The motto, “preserving our natural resources FOR the public instead of FROM the public”, was selected to illustrate their mission. Clark Collins has served as Executive Director of the BRC from it’s inception to his retirement at the end of 2005. During that time the BRC has grown into the largest coalition of off-road access proponents in the country. BlueRibbon counts more than 600 organizations on it’s membership list, including such names as the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and American Council of Snowmobile Associations. Collins figures that the BRC currently represents more than 600,000 recreational riders.

Biography by Jim Colln

Bob Ham

Bob Ham is an inductee to the Pioneer: Advocate category. Bob Ham, who said he was bitten by “offroaditis” when he was attending San Diego State in the mid-60s, has been a one-man army working to preserve our rights to use the desert and other open lands. Bob’s first off-road experience was a trip to Baja with some friends, but it didn’t take him long to get equipped for Glamis and Pismo. He started with a new ’69 Bronco, joined a Jeep club in Pasadena, and eventually became a part of a pit support group. In about 1968 he started going to the NORRA races down in Baja, and soon he was doing some prerunning with a racer friend. At about the same time the environmentalists discovered the desert and off roading. Bob tells us that they (the environmentalists) were already closing sand dune areas like Pt. Mugu, Marina Beach and Morro Bay and had set their sights on Pismo. He was by now the proud owner of a “sandrail” that he’d built and equipped with a 36 hp VW motor, so he had first hand knowledge of the dunes and what would be missing if they were all closed down.

So Bob became involved with some other dunebuggy people, and they formed the California Off Road Vehicle Association (CORVA). And CORVA teamed up with a few clubs from the Bay area and Sacramento and about 12 Southern California buggy and Jeep clubs and started to do battle with the “enviros”, BLM, State Parks, Forest Service and the Legislature. For a brief while Bob worked with Mickey Thompson helping him with “environmental/political stuff”. And then, in 1974 he moved to Sacramento to work for the Reagan Administration in the last year of his governorship. Bob ran the State Fuel Allocation program during the oil embargo and was able to ensure that there was always plenty of gas available at the old Glamis store, at Barstow for the Fireworks Race or at Pismo and wherever off-roaders were likely to need fuel.

Bob stayed on in Sacramento and in 1978 helped get a District 37 motorcycle racer named Bob Hayes elected to the state legislature. In 1979 he worked for the state Assembly as a policy consultant on energy, land use and transportation. After a few years of doing that, the lobbyist for the motorcycle industry retired and Bob was hired to replace him. At that point he put together an organization called the Off Road Vehicle Legislative Coalition which was comprised of CORVA, California 4 Wheel Drive Association, AMA National and Districts 36 and 37, the California/Nevada Snowmobile Association and a few others. Then, for the next 14 years he was the spokesman for motorcycles and ORV enthusiasts in the state legislature. One year in the mid-80s, Bob got the help of Sal Fish (SCORE’s president) to borrow a Jeep Cherokee, and he drove it in a Baja 1000 in the Safari class (which unfortunately no longer exists). He took a “fairly liberal” Assemblyman, who was about to be named Chair of the Transportation Committee as his co-driver. After a weekend of participating in a Baja 1000 he became a real supporter of our cause. Bob says the “enviros” could never understand how this guy, who normally voted their way, would always be there for the off-roaders when we needed a vote. Bob continued to lobby for Off Road causes until the mid ‘90s, when the Republicans took control of the State Assembly and he went back to work for the Assembly again. After the Democrats took over control once again, he left and decided to work in El Centro. This kept him close enough to his house in San Felipe, on the east edge of Baja, to satisfy his need for what he calls a “fish taco fix.” In March of 2002 Bob went to work for the County of Imperial. He says he still gets“to fight for the rights of off roading, since that is a BIG deal in Imperial County”. He is also on the Board of Directors of the California Off Road Vehicle Association; The American Sand Association; and ORMHOF. He’s also active in a handful of other organizations that work for our right to use the land.  In 2017, Bob was named Motorcyclist of the Year by the American Motorcycle Association, in recognition for his efforts to keep public lands in California open for responsible off-road motorcycle riding, and other forms of motorized recreation.

Biography by Judy J.Smith

Scott McKenzie

Scott McKenzie has been involved in all forms of recreational four-wheeling since he bought his first vehicle, a 1946 CJ2A Jeep. His competitive life as a driver was marked early with a second place finish in the 1956 MG Club of America ‘English Off-Road Trials’ in his stock 1955 VW. This was an event against the clock in the hills above Encino, California, near Scott’s home in North Hollywood. Later he would win the 1960 MG Club of America event held in Vasquez Rocks, California not far from where he lives today.

With subsequent vehicles Scott fabricated, he won 108 events in Sand Drag Hill Climbs as a driver. His first event in off-road racing turned out to be his last event as a driver. Jim Cameret put on a race in the El Paso Mountains near Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. Scott finished 3rd overall in his Sandmaster buggy out of a field of over 300 entries who lined up in a mass start. McKenzie hated driving in the dust but loved the challenge so he retired from driving and concentrated on the design and construction of winning off-road race cars.

Some of Scott’s early innovations were the first rear-engine VW powered sand buggy, the first single-seat buggy VW powered buggy and the first implementation of turning brakes. Scott was also an engine builder, producing the first large displacement VW motors for performance use in the early 60’s.

The evolution from sand racing to desert racing was a natural one for McKenzie. In spite of his impressive career in the sand, off-road racing is where Scott set a standard that others can only aspire to. With the cars that Scott designed and built, first with his Sandmaster brand and later as McKenzie Automotive, his drivers dominated desert racing. Five consecutive overall Mint 400 victories, 9 time Baja overall champions and countless other wins in too many races to list. The cars that Scott produced all had one thing that set them apart: reliability. His philosophy using only tried and true combinations was almost unstoppable and many others with cutting-edge approaches were left behind in the end. Having a good car is only one part of the equation and Scott had some of the best drivers on his teams to back up the technical work. Rick James, Bobby Ferro, Gene Hirst, Don Guth, Johnny Johnson, Rick & Roger Mears, Ivan Stewart, Malcolm Smith, Bud Feldkamp, and even Parnelli Jones all drove Scott’s cars to numerous victories. With drivers like these legends of the sport, desert and short-course races were constantly dominated by Scott’s entries.

With Scott’s successes in racing it was natural that people would seek out his experience and two successful businesses were the result: Sandmaster and McKenzie’s Automotive. Scott’s original partner was Charlie Lyon and then Don Arnet with Sandmaster. Scott started McKenzie’s Automotive and later, race team owner, Tracy Valenta became his partner.

To win it takes a team and Scott had some of the best. Brian Skipper (owner of Sway-A-Way), Judy Smith (respected off-road journalist), Steve Mudra (fabricator & ace mechanic), and Greg Lewin and Kirk Cartwright (founders of Off-Road Engineering), to name just a few. Scott worked with Gil George of Funco to develop the chassis and countless component suppliers to produce products that helped off-road racing prosper. Scott closed the race car fabrication part of his business in 1981 and concentrated on his parts business which had become a major player in off-road racing. In 1988 McKenzie decide to “retire” and sold the business to Jeff Quinn who continues to operate the business as McKenzie’s performance parts.

Scott has over 53 years of off-road participation having been successful throughout his career. He is generous to a fault, always helping but never needing help. He is an inspiration to all who know him, is honest and fair, meticulous and creative, a mentor to several generations of off-roaders whose innovations have been instrumental in bringing the sport to where it is today.

Roy Spuhler

Roy Spuhler’s involvement with off-roading began in 1959 with the purchase of his first beach buggy. Thus began a period of almost weekly trips out to the Oso Flaco Dunes with his family. In 1964 he bought a Blue Jeep CJ-6, which would become his signature vehicle for many years. In that same year he became one of the founding members of the Santa Maria 4-Wheelers. In March of 64, there was a head-on dune buggy crash resulting in the death of three people, one a young neighbor of Roy’s. Shortly thereafter, there was a meeting of enthusiasts to discuss safety out in the dunes. The number of people enjoying the dunes was increasing and many of these people gave little thought to dune safety. This ad hoc committee developed the first set of “Ten Rules of Dune Safety” and insisted that a flag be installed on every vehicle. The first major safety campaign took place over Memorial day weekend and that summer saw the formation of the Sand Dunes Safety Committee and Roy’s first handouts. Starting with the fourth of July weekend, Roy began camp to camp visits handing out information on dunes safety.

The following year, as use of the dunes continued to increase, litter became a problem. This led to the “Haul It In, Haul It Out” campaign. Roy gathered used potato sacks from people he knew in the area and he began handing them out and asking dune users to carry them on their vehicle as litter bags. As events got larger on holiday weekends, Roy, as a member or the Santa Maria 4-Wheelers arranged for the use of carrot trailers to haul away the litter bags.

By the late 60’s, the number of people camping and using the dunes continued to grow. The Santa Maria 4 Wheelers held their competition events on the July fourth weekend and the California Association of 4WD Clubs (CA4WDC) had their events on Labor day weekend. This meant large numbers of people and created the need for portable toilets. For several years, Roy would haul the port-a-potties in to the dunes for the events and haul them out afterwards. In between, Roy and his old CJ-6 could be seen hauling around the pumper and tank to keep the potties clean.

Around this time Pacific Gas & Electric bought a portion of the dunes from the Union Oil Company as a location for a power plant. The Sierra Club began a political campaign to stop the plant from being built, resulting in a compromise that would allow PG&E to build it’s power plant in an out of the way and little known place called Diablo Canyon.

In 1971 the State of California bought the PG&E property for a state park. At this time state parks required that all vehicles drive only on paved roads. In an area like Oceano/Pismo Dunes there would be no possible way to have paved roads. This led to a meeting in the dunes with the then Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation, Walter Mott. The user groups showed Mr. Mott around the dunes and convinced him that a different kind of state park would be necessary. This began the process of the state developing it’s first Off Highway Vehicle Park (OHV). Roy spent many days and nights attending meetings to help develop guidelines for the proper usage of the dunes and determining just how the local Pismo State Park was going to manage the resource. As this plan was beginning to take shape, the voters of California created the California Coastal Commission which, in turn, tried to step in and change the park plan that was developing. The Department of Parks and Recreation was reluctant to fight another state agency so in 1974, Roy Spuhler and the Sand Dune Safety Committee filed suit against Parks and Recreation seeking implementation of the operation and use plan that had been worked out. This forced Parks and Recreation to put pressure on the Coastal Commission, eventually resulting in the 1975 “Master Plan”.

There is little doubt that anyone who has ever enjoyed the facilities of the Oceano/Pismo dunes, owes Roy Spuhler a measure of gratitude for helping to make that possible.