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Jean Calvin

Jean Calvin

Jean Calvin was an outspoken, honest but contentious lady who devoted 25 years to off-road racing. Her early years were the foundation for her personality. They were tough. She attended an Indian school on a reservation through the eighth grade, then worked her way through a Quaker high school in Pennsylvania.

It was the way she earned that high school education that formed the independent woman she became. To help pay her tuition at the school, her relatives taught her to skate and put her to work in their ice show. She thrived under the tough regimen.

Once through college, Jean moved to California and joined a touring ice show. For years she skated with the Ice Follies, the Ice Capades and the Sonia Henie show. She developed work habits that never left her. She also developed a tough outer shell that hid a kind-hearted core.

In 1953 she left the ice show and went to work for the Air Force. She worked in Germany, where she met her future husband. While there she bought a new MG, and that was the beginning of her long love affair with fast cars.

In 1955 she left that job and settled in California and a year later married John Calvin. They set up housekeeping in Chatsworth.

In 1961 she began racing an Austin Healy Sprite. She competed in SCCA events for about seven years, and early on, started writing about racing. She worked for Peterson Publications for five years or so. Then she became a free lance automotive journalist, and with a wide range of clients, stayed in business until 1983. Earlier, while writing for Dune Buggies and Hot VWs, she interviewed Les Choat about his VW salvage yard. They became great friends. Les gave Jean a VW powered “buggy” to drive in the’70 Baja 500. She was hooked. Her writing shifted to off-road topics. She built her own single-seat Funco and raced it for years, always with great glee. She loved the pre-running, the racing and the people. She continued as a freelancer until she started the Dusty Times in 1983.

For many years Jean’s knowledgeable and forthright stories of the sport spread the word about off-road racing through circles that otherwise might not have noticed. She was instrumental in the development of a fan base. Without her creative output we might still be fighting for recognition.

Biography by Judy Smith