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Chris Blais to Receive ORMHOF 2023 Louis Unser Never Give Up Award

Chris Blais to Receive ORMHOF 2023 Louis Unser Never Give Up Award

Chris Blais will be presented with the ORMHOF 2023 Louis Unser Never Give Up Award at the Hall of Fame 2023 Induction & Awards Gala on Saturday, September 9, at the South Point in Las Vegas.

The Never Give Up Award is presented by Laverne Unser in honor of her late husband, Louis. 

Recipients of the Louis Unser Never Give Up Award demonstrate a pursuit of excellence in the face of adversity. Louis Unser relentlessly fought through health issues to persevere in his passion for engine building. Like Louis, these individuals exemplify a ‘Never Give Up’ attitude in their off-road career, possessing a relentless attitude, indomitable spirit, and perseverance.

The 2023 Louis Unser Never Give Up Award is sponsored by Mark Post and Riviera Racing.

About Chris Blais

When you enter a race, you always have to sign a waiver that’s included in the entry form you didn’t bother to read because a true optimist never falls down. No one ever wants to get hurt racing, but year after year--all across the globe--it happens. Injury is the “pink elephant” in the motorsports room, the one we never talk about until after we’ve been injured. The conversation will shift to, “When are you back on the bike?” and we go and sit on the sidelines in an idle fashion waiting for “it” to, hopefully, fix itself so we can get back out and immerse ourselves in the action once again.

Chris Blais riding the high desert of California in 2006. Photo Credit: Joe Bonnello

The two worst-case scenarios we face are death and spinal cord injury. Having been in the motorsports and action sports game for many years as an announcer, I’ve seen the mighty fall and sometimes, sadly, not get up.

In 2007 I fielded a call informing me that mutual friend and fellow racer Chris Blais had been Life-Flighted out of the desert after a spinal cord injury he suffered while pre-running for the Vegas-to-Reno desert race.

Chris has always been one of the nicest guys I know--constantly smiling, sickeningly positive, and also a very accomplished off-road racer around the globe. Earlier that year Blais found himself the only American representing the Red Bull KTM factory team at the Dakar Rally and finished the prestigious event third overall. The smile on his face as he held up the highly touted Dakar trophy on the podium could’ve lit up half of Las Vegas with its beam and power. To this day, he lights up when speaking about that hard-earned accomplishment: “Finally finishing on the podium at Dakar was my greatest accomplishment as an off-road racer. The podium was my long-term goal and I reached it. The Dakar Rally is a life-changing experience and a race that I was fortunate enough to experience three times.”

In 2005, Chris was the top American finisher on a motorcycle, winning Rookie of the Year honors.

The highs and lows of life can often be a cruel thing; in August of 2007, pre-running for the Vegas to Reno race, Chris had his terrible crash and lay in the hot desert sun for three hours with no feeling in his legs, waiting for the medical chopper.

Remember, though, this is a guy who never quit--ever. Spending countless hours on his bike at the Baja 1000 and other tough races never diminished his fighting spirit and now, facing his greatest challenge, he just shifted his focus over to making the best of what had been handed to him.

“I’m paralyzed from the sternum down and am currently still in the wheelchair. I’m doing the same things I enjoyed doing before--just a little differently now. I have no regrets and would do it all over again even if I knew that I would end up where I am now. Motorcycle racing was a life experience for me, and it made me the person I am today,” Blais declares.

Can-Am Video: Chris Blais, 2022 Vegas to Reno (10 minutes)

Though his ability to walk vanished out in the desert that day, his mental drive just clicked up another gear and Chris soon found other ways to accomplish newfound goals and recreate. He went out and bought a UTV and set it up for racing. With a co-pilot to hop out and change a wheel if a flat occurred, Chris racked up a number of wins in the WORCS series as well as other event wins that earned him a spot as a Can-Am factory rider.

Chris and his wife Patty have been together for 22 years.

Chris also operates his own business along with his amazing wife Patty (a proven racer herself), and the two can be found in the shop most days running Blais Racing Services in Southern California’s high desert area. There, they spearhead a successful race team while Chris also juggles his duties as the Promotional Manager for the AMA Racing Hare & Hound National Championship Series.

Blais is a master mechanic who personally builds all of the race bikes and motors that come into the shop. When the challenge of getting around out in the soft sand at the local desert races frustrated him, he just scratched his head and came up with a solution. He got his hands on a Segway and chopped it up, adding fat tires and a seat to his newest contraption. That solved his transportation problem at desert races; now, his mobility to and from the signup tent and back to his trailer is no longer an issue.

In summary, Chris observes, “Life is a little different now and has its separate set of challenges than before. All we can do is move forward and make it work; there’s no reason to just sit there and cry about it--get out there and make it happen!"

Or, as the saying goes: Winners never quit and quitters never win. 

Chris Blais has never been a quitter.

-- Story by Jerry Bernardo

Congratulations, Chris Blais!

About the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame

The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame was established in 1978 by racing promoter and NORRA founder Ed Pearlman to recognize and honor those individuals and organizations whose lifelong contributions to off-road motorsports have set a standard for others to follow. In 1995, legendary off-road racer Rod Hall became ORMHOF chairman, a position he held for more than twenty years, before selecting current chairman Mark McMillin as his successor.

The mission of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame is to educate and inspire present and future generations of the off-road community by celebrating the achievements of those who came before.  Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees represent excellence and achievement in many areas of off-road, including advocacy, journalism, industry, rock sports, desert racing, short course, and rally.  

ORMHOF maintains a collection of vintage off-road vehicles that are displayed at museums around the country, as well as an extensive online archive of print, images, and videos, with more content added as funds become available.  The Hall of Fame Off-Road Registry invites clubs, organizations, events, businesses, and individuals with fifty years or more of history in off-road to apply for Hall of Fame heritage status in the official archives of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. 

The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame is funded through donations, individual memberships, and industry partners. A 501c non-profit organization, ORMHOF has earned a GuideStar Non-Profit Gold Seal of Transparency for 2023.

ORMHOF is guided by an all-volunteer board of leaders in the off-road community, including chairman Mark McMillin and board members Frank ‘Butch’ Arciero Jr, Dave Cole, Frank DeAngelo, Bud Feldkamp, Jeff Furrier, Bob Ham, Josh Hall, Gary Haugley, Rich Klein, Rafael Navarro III, Fardad Niknam, Bonnie Vessels, and Rory Ward.

The link to purchase 2023 Gala tickets is on the 2023 Ceremony tab. We invite you to browse the ORMHOF online collections of print, images, and video, and to learn more about how to join, partner, or donate. Legends live at