Pictured, Left to Right: Jaime Martinez, Parnelli Jones, Bill Stroppe, Harry Lewin
My father Jaime Martinez demonstrated how hard work and dedication to your craft can take you places you never dreamed it would.
Jaime Moises Martinez was born in Quito, Ecuador in 1936. At the tender age of 25 he left his country for a new life in the USA. He was given an opportunity to work at Bill Stroppe's company where he moved up the levels of employment. During his time there he was part of many racing teams, special projects mainly from the Ford Motor Company. Two main projects were the racing of Ford Broncos off-road and the development of the Ford Baja Broncos limited edition models.
He had no formal education/English language and to learn from legendary car builder Bill Stroppe he became one of the best off-road racer/crew chief/engineers during the infancy of the sport as we know it today. He also treated fellow racers, sponsors, and friends with the utmost respect in which I am able to relish the numerous stories of his experiences with them during his racing career. From the 1964 Anchorage Alaska Durability run, Pan American races, numerous NORRA, SCORE, and HDRA off-road racing events, my father raced all over the world, and while doing all of this most importantly raising a respectful family. He loved what he did in relation to off-road racing but more importantly, he loved his family and the off-road community that he was a part of for more than 38 years. He has exemplified the will for a better life through hard work, determination, and learning from the best to become the best.
Jaime Martinez was engulfed in the race division of Bill Stroppe during the 1960's while co-driving/navigating with drivers Larry Minor, Lou Fuentes, and Gale Pike to name a few. He assisted with the fabrication of the stable of Ford Broncos like The Pony, The Stove, and of course Big Oly. During this time of infancy of off-road racing he raced and worked with some of the greatest drivers in the sport Rod Hall, Walker Evans, and Parnelli Jones. He led/raced until the early the 1990s with Manny Esquerra's Ford-backed Class 7 Ranger where they captured the Point championship 8 times.
Some of Jaime Martinez' career accomplishments:
As a father, he married Emma Meza and had 4 children: William, Jimmy, Patrick, and Linda, and raised them in Long Beach, California, at times working multiple jobs.
To support his family he worked nights at Powerine oil company. He was always there for his family as well as his circle of work and race family. Many times he would rush home from work and start getting all of us to clean the house and for my mom to cook more food as he invited racers, family, and friends for dinner. I didn't realize it as a youngster but it really showed how he cared for others on the racecourse and in life.
After his racing career ended Jaime moved on to Roush Industries where he worked in the testing department. During this time he battled cancer and succumbed to the awful disease on March 30, 2003. One shining note is that his granddaughter Paige Cantor-Martinez was born 12 days later on what would have been Grandpa Jaime's 67 birthday. He is loved and admired by his family in Ecuador as well as here in the U.S.