Steve Morris – ORMHOF Class of 2019
Steve Morris has been a pioneer and advocate for the Recreational Four Wheeling community since the purchase of his first Jeep in 1954, a Willys CJ2A.
His passion for off-road started as family recreation, then moved into business as an employee of the Jeep Corporation in Detroit, and later as a Jeep dealer. Morris continued to follow his passion for off-road, moving into the role of advocate for off-road recreation and public land access for California and Nevada.
Looking for comradery, Morris helped form the Sacramento Jeepers in 1956. The club still contributes to Off Highway Vehicle access and maintenance, and hosts a CPR/First Aid class for its members.
Morris saw a need for an agency that would protect and represent the rights and needs of the off-road community. He was instrumental in the development and formation of the California Association of 4WD Clubs (Cal4Wheel) in 1959. He served on the board as the first Cal4Wheel president and helped develop the by-laws that the organization still follows today. The Cal4Wheel Win-A-Jeep promotion is a major fundraiser since the early days of the organization that continues to this day.
Steve’s love of the Sierra Nevada mountains led him to help start the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s club in 1966. The Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s contribute to the community as volunteers and adopting trails in the Tahoe National Forest and surrounding areas near South Lake Tahoe, including the Long Lake Trail at the base of the Cadillac Hill on the Rubicon Trail. Steve is still active and sits on the Rubicon Oversight Committee (ROC) meetings in El Dorado County, California.
There is a spot on the Rubicon Trail at the top of Cadillac Hill called ‘Morris Rock’ where Steve and his wife would camp out every Saturday night, offering a helping hand to vehicles who were having trouble navigating the challenging trail by winching them through the difficult spot.
In 1985 a group of like-minded individuals banded together and purchased the 400 acres known as Rubicon Springs, just three days before it was going to be taken over by the United States Forest Service. By purchasing the property, the landowners preserved public access through the Rubicon trail system. Morris is currently one of twelve owners of the Rubicon Springs property and is still called on from time to time for his knowledge of the history, and his experience, of fighting for public land rights.
Steve Morris has been a mentor to many people who are now leaders in the protection of OHV rights and access. He is the perfect example of how to conduct oneself with dignity and respect for others. Although soft spoken, Morris has led many meetings, coordinated maintenance efforts and led the way to protect OHV rights. Each year during the Jeepers Jamboree, an event he has attended for more than 60 years, Morris gives a presentation to attendees on the history of the Rubicon Trail and the need for those who enjoy OHV recreation to get involved in preserving public access to public lands.
Steve Morris participated in many early Jeep events, including the first-ever competition at Pismo Beach. He was a pit crew member at The Mint 400 in Las Vegas and organized and competed in early Hill Climbs and Jeep Pulls in South Lake Tahoe hosted by the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s, the club he helped get started in 1966.
When the Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) was founded in 2001, Steve Morris was there, attending meetings and donating countless hours of his time. ORMHOF inductee Del Albright (Class of 2014) says of Morris, “He has always been the first one to raise his hand and say, I can help.”
In 2016 Steve Morris was recognized for more than 50 years of service to Cal4Wheel.
Editor’s Note: Steve Morris learned of his induction into the Hall of Fame in the early summer of 2019. Prior to the formal Induction Ceremony, Steve passed away during a visit to the Rubicon Springs, the place he loved more than anywhere on earth. Steve’s son Rick, was present at the Induction Ceremony to honor his father as a Legacy inductee of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.