“Lance Clifford gave me, and fellow land use advocates the most prominent and influential platform for communication and engagement in the world,” said ORMHOF inductee Del Albright. “He did this freely and openly as his part of keeping our trails open and helping save our off-roading sports.”
Lance Clifford was also a pioneer in bringing live coverage to off-road competitions and events. Years before YouTube offered live-streaming video, Lance and his team brought live coverage of off-road motorsports events and competitions to a quickly expanding audience through his work on Pirate4x4.com.
“The off-road industry is defined by its culture,” said King of the Hammers co-founder Dave Cole. “Lance Clifford is uniquely responsible for not only forming that culture but also sharing it with the world. As a network engineer and avid off-roader in the mid-1990s, Lance formed the website Pirate4x4.com around his club and their home trail, the famous Rubicon Trail. Pirate 4x4.com was the epicenter of advancement in technology, competition, industry news, and most importantly, social discourse. I can say without reservation, that King of the Hammers and the entire Johnson Valley OHV area would not exist without the reach and power of Pirate4x4.com and the leadership of Lance and his partner Erik Linker.”
LANCE CLIFFORD TIMELINE
1996 – 4x4 website created for The Pirates of the Rubicon 4x4 Club.
1997 – “Bulletin Board” feature added to Pirate4x4.com, allowing users to add content. The site becomes so popular that it exceeds the traffic limit of the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Pirate4x4.com had more traffic than all the other customers of the ISP combined.
1998 – Pirate4x4.com moves to new ISP that can handle the site traffic and continues to grow.
2000 – Pirate4x4.com becomes the leading 4x4 website and Lance’s full-time job.
Early 2000s – Pirate4x4.com begins live coverage of rock sports events including W.E. Rock, UROC, and RCAA, using internet satellite dishes and bonded cell phones. Early coverage was with live photos, then to live streaming audio, and as technology advanced, live video. Some of today’s leading off-road photographers and video production staff got their start at Pirate4x4.com.
2002 – Lance wins the RCAA Rock Crawling Championship. Working with future Off-Road Motorsports inductee Del Albright and others, Lance adds a land-use forum to Pirate4x4.com for the newly created advocacy group “Friends of the Rubicon” for the popular northern California off-road trail. Pirate4x4.com becomes the clearing house for all information Rubicon-related. Volunteer work, fundraisers, and trail work parties were all formed and organized through Pirate4x4.com. “Friends of” Forums for other land use causes like Tellico, Johnson Valley, and Fordyce, were soon added. This began a decade-long land-use focus for Pirate4x4.com, leading to significant fundraising for land-use causes and many trails and areas being preserved for public OHV use.
2007 – Baja 1000 class win, W.E. Rock National Championship.
2007 - Creation of private “Land-Use Roundtable” on Pirate4x4.com. The Roundtable brought together nearly all of the pro-access land ue advocates from organizations and areas of the country, including future ORMHOF inductees Del Albright and Don Amador.
2007 – Pirate4x4.com provided live coverage of a new event called King of the Hammers, despite the challenges of being in an area with no cell phone coverage. Coverage of King of the Hammers in the early years helped the dramatic rise in the popularity of the event and the growth of the sport of rock racing known as Ultra4.
2007 – Launch of Pirate 4x4 TV Live hosted by Jessi Combs and Erik ‘Camo’ Linker. Aired monthly online in a LIVE format with a full production crew, Pirate4x4 TV interviewed people in the off-road industry and toured facilities of companies like FOX and Warn.
2008 - Baja 1000 class win, W.E. Rock National Championship. 2008 – Virtual Land Use Rally for Tellico on Pirate4x4.com.
2008 – Pirate4x4.com team launches the Pirate4x4.com letter generator, a convenient way for Pirate4x4.coom members to create personal letters to address land use issues. Pirate4x4.com generated over 20,000 letters for Johnson Valley land use alone. The letter generator was also used for Tellico, Choke Cherry Canyon, Fordyce, and the Havasu Travel Management plans.
2008 – 2012 – Pirate4x4.com averages 1 million page views per day.
2011 – One of many land-use fundraising campaigns, Pirate4x4.com launches “Blue Star” program to generate funds for the pro-access Blue Ribbon Coalition. Raising more than $30,000, the Blue Star program made Pirate4x4.com the land-use charity’s largest donor.
2012 – Pirate4x4.com sold to Vertical Scope. 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021 – Baja 1000 class wins.
“Off-roading is Lance’s passion,” said Larry McRae of Zion Jeep Tours. “Because of his passion, his skill set, and his pioneering spirit, many of the things we take for granted today are because of things he developed many years ago. He changed the way we receive information on all things off-road.”
Learn more about ORMHOF inductee Lance Clifford in this Conversations with Big Rich podcast:
1:54 Sometimes all it takes is a mud puddle to catch the off-road bug
4:17 Pirates of the Rubicon, drinking club with an off-roading problem, is born
6:07 How America Online influenced off-roading with their marketing ploy
13:51 A giant computer nerd changes everything
30:49 Baja challenges everything
47:15 The sale of Pirate, including Camo becoming a Pirate