Bud Feldkamp grew up in Central Nevada, where he was driving his dad’s pickup truck across the desert by the age of 12. Bud took up motorcycles, and met Malcolm Smith when he took his bike to Smith’s shop for repairs. Eventually both men joined the Riverside, California based Sandwinder buggy racing team, one of the big teams in off road racing in the early 1970s.
Bud got a taste of buggy racing in 1971 when, with Mel Tryee, he finished fourth in the Baja 500. Bud went on co-driving with others on the Sandwinder team, sometimes in the unlimited class, and often in the growing 1200cc class. Bud co-drove with Don Rountree, mentor of the Sandwinder group, to second overall at the Dam 500 in 1973, and that was that race that saw overall honors go to Malcolm Smith in a similar buggy.
Feldkamp went on racing in 1973 and took home the 1200cc honors at the Firecracker 250 that year. Then, heading for the Baja 1000, Malcolm and Bud joined forces to drive the Sandwinder to second place in Class 1. They found their style of driving quite similar, and decided then to go together as a full-fledged team. In Mexico, Bud drove the second half of the race, and went the final 75 miles on three wheels. That spirit of carrying on regardless of the problems is common to the two men and one factor in their amazing finishing record. Over the coming years the pair celebrated many first overall wins in their Funco chassis car, including the 1975 Baja 1000, two consecutive Mint 400 victories, and back to back High Desert and SCORE titles in 1977 and 1978. The blue Bel Ray Bullet of Bud Feldkamp and Malcolm Smith is one of the most iconic vehicles in off-road racing history, with Off-Road magazine giving the nod to the Bullet as one of the greatest off-road racing machines ever.
The sleek Bel-Ray Bullet represented the progression of technology and construction that began in earnest in the late 1970s, took off in the 80s and hasn’t stopped since. The Bel-Ray Bullet was based a Funco chassis that featured a much longer wheelbase than previous models to help better absorb rough terrain. To aid in shock cooling, aluminum fins were incorporated into the Bilstein shocks. Most significantly, the Bullet was one of the first buggies featuring an independent rear suspension. The move away from the clumsy and constricting swing-axle rear suspension allowed for the use of a Volkswagen Type II transaxle and cv joints which greatly increased wheel travel and improved camber characteristics. Of course, the result was speed; the Bullet quickly racked up victories, proving that buggies were no longer cute but rather serious race weapons.
In the mid-1980s, Bud turned his sites toward building Glen Helen Raceway, which to this day, is one of the premier racing facilities in the West. Glen Helen Raceway is located North of San Bernardino, California. This area is against a great mountain side in which Glen Helen Raceway has created it raceway facility of 256 acres, dominated by giant trackside letters spelling out G L E N H E L E N in the style of the old Hollywood sign.
Glen Helen Raceway started its fame back in 1985, it had several Sand Drag events, Off Road events and Motocross events. In 1991 Glen Helen Raceway hosted its first major event, the United States World Championship Motocross and again in 1992. With these two events added to the Glen Helen Raceway venue it was the beginning of a growing and nationally known track.
In 1995 and 1996 two more major events came to Glen Helen Raceway, the Off-Road Winter Series and the AMA 125/250 MX Nationals. In the years that followed, Glen Helen added many memorable events to the schedule, including Ultra4 Unlimited Off-Road Racing, and recently announced that the 2017 Motocross of Nations will be held at the facility. Under Feldkamp’s leadership, Glen Helen Raceway has become one of the most seen and raced on tracks in the world.
‘The opportunity to welcome the world of motocross to our back yard in Southern California, for the first time in its 70-year history, is something that we do not take lightly at Glen Helen. I look forward to doing everything in my power to make this a truly historic motocross event for all the teams and fans from around the world,’ said Bud.
Bud Feldkamp’s remarkable achievements spanning five decades of off-road, both as a racer and as an event promoter, make him a welcome addition to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.