Born in New Jersey in 1936, Herman Booy came west to the off-road Mecca of San Jacinto, California when he was just 11 years old. Shortly after enrolling at Cal-Poly, Pomona, Herman went to Glamis where he fell in love with performance sand vehicles. Once he completed his time in college, Herman focused his attention on building sand machines. Always an innovator, Herman’s first competitive effort was a single seat “C” Class buggy driven by Dennis Irwin and maintained by Booy. The pair ran hillclimbs and Sand Drags whenever they could. During this time, Herman developed the back/undercut groove for implement tires that gave them an edge at these events and the buggy became a consistent winner. Of course it wasn’t long before everyone was using this new technology so, in the late 60’s, Herman worked with Ken Stuart at Skat Trak to develop the now famous paddle tire, which revolutionized the world of competitive Sand Sports. As Sand Sports gained momentum throughout the Pacific Southwest, Herman worked with the Inland Empire Dune Buggy Association (IEDBA) to help bring Sand Drags to the San Jacinto riverbed and later donated much of his time working with Sand Sports and 4-wheeler groups to standardize class rules for competition. Naturally, Herman’s principle interest was in the area of high horsepower vehicles Throughout his career, Herman’s skills as a sand car builder, mechanic and innovator were in constant demand. He built cars with various engine builders such as Dale Williamson, John Palmer and Dave Stults and built and wrenched for Hank Eckhardt on his rear engined blown Chrysler powered Funny Car. He built two Funny Cars and two Dragsters for Larry Minor and was a mechanic for Larry and Roger Mears in Minor’s “Smokey SS1” class one buggy in the NORRA Mexican 500 during the early 70’s. Herman built a number of sand vehicles for himself, not the least of which was a sand dragster which propelled him to the “100 Yard World Record for top speed on sand” as recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.
As a builder, mechanic, driver, promoter and innovator, Herman Booy has indeed been a master of Sand Sports at every conceivable level. There is little doubt that without the influence of Herman Booy, the world of Sand Sports as we know it today would have a very different history.
Tributes to Herman Booy
“Thank you for the awesome childhood.” — Sharon N.