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Here's my story - what's yours?

JrSyko

Jerry Maguire
I see time after time young, enthusiastic kids come on this forum and ask how they can one day drive a race car, maybe even race the Baja 1000. They are full of hope, excitement and energy and invariably they are smacked down, laughed at and dreams crushed by the RDC "Comedy Club" of bench racers - the guys who don't race but try and gain popularity by inserting sarcasm and "humor" where it has no place (you know who you are). There is a small minority of racers though who try and offer advice and guidance however so often their message is lost in the RDC noise.

So I thought it prudent to start a thread where those of us who have made their dreams become a reality can share their story as a beacon of encouragement for the young guys and gals just starting out on their dreams of one day racing. This thread is SOLELY intended to act as inspiration and guidance for the young readers on RDC - mods please delete any negative or irrelevant posts that just take away from the intended message.

With that said I'll go first since I just recently finally realized mine...

I was born a beach bum to parents who had never even heard of off-road racing. However through our love of the beach and surfing we become huge fans of Baja and thus it was only a matter of time before our travels to Baja would happen to coincide with a Baja race. It was on my 12th birthday on a Father/Son surf trip to Punta Cabras that it finally happened as we stumbled upon the Baja 500 and after seeing Ivan Stewart barreling down that long straight away I realized off-road racing was for me!

From there I begged my dad to take me to every Baja race and every June and November we'd load up and head south to watch the 500 and 1000 and pretty soon we were traveling to Laughlin in January and Primm in September just being full off-road groupies. My dad, while an amazing father, was not that into the racing, he liked to watch but mainly did it so his off-road racing crazed son could cement his dreams of one day racing.

Soon spectating was not enough for me and I needed to get more involved and at the Baja 2000 the opportunity arose to chase Dave Sykes. My dad and I chased Dave all the way to Cabo and while that cemented my dad's realization that chasing was not for him it further cemented my dream to one day be in the left seat of my own car bouncing down the Peninsula. Unfortunately though, I did not come from a wealthy family - we were wealthy in love and support but not wealthy in what it took to go racing thus if I was to make my dream come true it would have to be on my own.

That is what every young "racer" needs to realize - there is no free ride. If you want to make it happen YOU need to make it happen. That means hard work, dedication, positive thoughts and a undying dedication to making it happen. All you guys who want to one day race - YOU are the only one who can make that happen. YOU need to get out and make the relationships, YOU need to do the work, pay the dues and fulfill your dream.

We all possess certain skills, you need to identify yours and turn those skills into a career. School is NOT for everyone and while it may open a few more doors for you it does not guarantee success and riches. I had a knack for school and thus figured my best shot at being successful was to go to college and then on to law school as that seemed to be a natural calling for me. However that was just the first step of many, upon graduation I still had a long ways to go in turning that paper I was handed upon graduation into the kind of green paper that would allow me to go racing.

I was fortunate enough to hook up with two guys who raced Class 12 and for 4 years I raced with them doing whatever I could to sit in that right seat with my eye on one day switching to the left seat. However when it was time to focus on my career racing took a back seat as I shifted gears into making it myself (puns intended). Finally, this past weekend, and 20 years after seeing that first Baja 500, I just completed my first race with my racing partner Pat Dailey in our brand new Class 10 Raceco. The feeling of climbing into the drivers seat of your own car, paid for with your own hard work and dedication is arguably as rewarding as the actual racing itself. I can't wait for next year when Pat and I will race the Baja 250, 500 and 1000 and fully realize OUR dreams of racing in Baja just like all those racers before me did while I was cheering from the side of the road.

Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely! So don't be discouraged by those who laugh at your dreams (my beach bum friends all thought I was crazy when I told them my dreams all those years ago and now they are all asking if they can come cheer me on!) Hard work and a positive attitude can over come most anything so keep your head up, set your goals high and don't take no for an answer!

Now that's my story - what's yours?
 

TJERGENSEN

Well-Known Member
exactly, work hard, work long hours, work smart and when you do get to start racing it is hard work too.racing is like another job. you need to like to work. it's not a free ride.but it's all worth it when you win.
 

deano

McDeano
So stoked for you and Pat (& Jamie) -- For you to start-out racing in a state of the art Offroad race car is another plus for you -- Hard work does pay off and all of you in this Raceco build showed that .... continued success for you and hope to be able to help you guys out next year ..


Sent from the RDC Mobile App. Get it for your IOS device today
 

EMS702

Rescue 1
Thanks for sharing your story. Was great meeting you at PIT A. Congrats on the Raceco buggy, looks and sounded great. I was fortunate to have my Boss at my real job take my out to a BITD Pahrump race and get me hooked into Desert racing. From that I am able to mold my real job into helping the desert racing, dirt sports family. I saw the MINT as a kid with my grandfather and helped once change tires for a desert crew when I was fresh out of high school. Many years past, but now I am incredibly blessed to be in the desert the few weekends I am out there. I have one dream to go to BAJA (If the wife allows) and I can find a team willing to allow me the opportunity. Thank you to all the promoters and race teams for giving us on the sidelines a chance to see some great racing. See you in the desert (only make it at the pit or the bar).
 

Jeff72

Well-Known Member
Thank you JrSyks
Great post. I have a similar story...

I have worked very hard to get where I am. I have never been to the Baja, but it has been a dream of mine since a teenager. I started out working around my dads shop, sweeping floors, cleaning, cutting grass for literally thousands of hours on an old Massey ferguson tractor, and working other various part time jobs. If I wanted to play, I had to work for it.

I spent my formative years off roading in any old truck we could get our hands on. Where I grew up in northern ontario, Canada, we have miles and miles of old logging roads and trails. We were not organized in any sense of the word, but we raced around those roads as if we were taking the checkered flag at the Indy 500.. Or should I say the Baja 1000! I so dearly wanted to be a professional race car driver... In any form. But, as most of you know the means and opportunity were not there growing up, and life simply went in an other direction.

I did the same thing, went to school, university, graduated, worked like hell, and now... And only now, can I afford to get into racing. I have yet to enter an organized race, and we are building for the Baja 1000. And the satisfaction and enjoyment of this build to me is second to none... Just don't tell my wife I said that! Whether we finish it or not is another story...

I am very happy to see someone else being positive on here. I have been on here about a year and seen a few things come across that are completely negative that just make me shake my head and wonder why I come no here!

It is possible to do this. It will take hard work, not just in the race or on the build, but in everything in life to get to that point where you can do it. I hope the young man who has been on here the past few days ( and any other people young or old) who maybe had the wrong approach, does find his way into the racing world. He obviously has the guts, and at 17 to stand up and take some initiative. And lets not forget, he is still a young man full of piss and vinegar, who maybe really did not know any better than to ask for ride? If you don't ask, you will never know... Right? Hell, in business, several times when I started out, and I'm sure those that are honest with themselves, embarrassed themselves a few times starting out and asked all the wrong questions! Heck, ill admit it... I still do sometimes!

Long and short what I am trying to say, is to re affirm what JrSyks is saying... To all those starting out, ignore the naysayers and negative people. Really, just ignore them and pay them no heed. You will never get anywhere listening to that jargon. Take the first step, no matter how wrong or right it is and join in... In anything in life. You wont always win or succeed, but at least you tried. Sometimes the only way I've been able to get into something, (when I know nothing about it and simply thought there is an opportunity here), is I just simply jumped in both feet, and either I sink or swim. Sometimes I sank! But other times, more often than not thankfully, I swam, and figured it out as I went. And believe me, even in my 40's I've had plenty of people look at me like I have two heads when I tell them I am building to race the Baja 1000. Too bad for them, because if they just took a positive view to it, they could join in and have some fun with us!

For all those that are young and old, one quick story for you aside form racing, just a general positive life story....
I am in the aircraft maintenance business, we attained a new customer this past summer. He is 70 years old, and not form any wealthy means. He is a retired librarian. He always wanted to be a pilot and fly. Even at his age, with out any great means what so ever, he went out with his life savings, bought a small airplane, had us fix it up for him, and got his license. He has spent the past six months coming out to the airport everyday taking care of his life long dream, and flying any chance he gets. He has impressed me so much.

If I could offer one suggestion to young people. A good place to start if you can not get to the races or have never been involved. Get ahold of some good biographies of drivers. Mario Andretti, Parnell jones, Mickey Thompson, Richard Petty.... The list goes on. Read their stories, see what they did to get started. You might get some good ideas and find parallels in your own life that you can use to get your foot in the door.

One last thing that my Dad always said to me "There is no such word as can't. Is simply doesn't exist. Just go do it.."
 

9rocky

Well-Known Member
Excellent thread. Congratulations to you guys on your new car. Our journey started when our family fell in love with the desert in 1976 and began with my dad racing bikes in district 37. He started the family business in 1980 and we moved to the high desert in 1990. I met some people who raced a 5/1600 and started hanging out with them to get a chance at the right seat. I rode for a couple of years with them, and was just in awe of the Cook brothers and Ivan. Loved every minute of working on the cars, pitting, whatever I could do. But money was tight. I scraped and begged my wife to let me build a class 9 car. I found a partner and we got a chassis from Darryl Gibson. It took us a year to finish it, and at this time the family business was also making parts for offroad like axles, spring plates, link pins, etc. We raced the car a few times, but my family had grown with our son arriving and we sold the car. We also sold the offroad portion of our business to Sway A Way. We spent the next fifteen years working away and with my wife and I taking over the family business and growing it to the point that we considered racing again. We wanted to race together so we raced in my brother in laws 1600. She decided she wanted to move up, and we bought a class 1 from Richard Boyle. We raced for a couple of years, and then my back got really bad from degenerative disc disease(not racing). I decided to live vicariously through my wife continuing on in our class 1 car, and now our son who we just had gotten a class 9 car. This has continued on to where we now have a newer class 1, and 2 class 10 cars. We race as much as possible, and have now raced the baja 1000 twice, with more to come.

This has all come from hard work, sacrifice, and patience. Take people up on their offers to help a race team, and be a sponge. Learn as much as you can till the day comes when you can live your dream.
 

J Prich

Well-Known Member
Great timing for us, turns out we just had a chance to share our story and you can find it in this month's edition of Off Road Magazine:

http://www.fourwheeler.com/features/1402-2004-toyota-tacoma-prerunner-time-flies/

On a bit of a whim my family spectated the 1980 Mint 400 and it became a spring time tradition for the remainder of the decade. We had dirt bikes and three wheelers and did trips to Glamis, etc but no racing background of any sort, just fans. Over the years we made our way to races in Barstow, Riverside, etc and enjoyed the family experience of camping and watching races.

In the 80s my bedroom walls were covered with posters and pictures collected at tech on Fremont St. I day dreamed about racing but have never had much in the way of mechanical skill, no family connections, etc. In the mid 90s a short time after high school I headed off to the Air Force and travelled a fair amount. I landed back in Las Vegas in 2005 and one day happened to hear PAB doing a spot on the local radio station for the newly revamped SNORE Mint 400. Packed up a back pack and headed to Moapa and was hooked all over again.

In 2009 after some long talks with the wife I decided to buy a daily driver pre runner sort of truck with the 5-10 year pipe dream of someday building a race legal truck. Not really a realistic plan of action or anything, just sort of a post retirement fantasy. Was fortunate to make some amazing friends including the person who would ultimately end up building our race truck. In 2010 I was reassigned to Washington, DC and it didnt make sense to take the truck with us so we left in Vegas to slow build it as a toy.

In 2011 I was deployed in support of a joint special ops unit and ended up making a decent bit of money in per diem and tax free pay as a result of the boondoggle. With that money we decided to invest in turning the pipe dream in to a reality and that money provided the basis for Tax Payer Funded racing. In January of this year the truck was complete and we were able to fulfill the dream by racing in the HDRA SouthPoint 250.

We intended to race a 4-5 race season this year but while en route to the race, just days before kicking off an awesome year of racing, I got notified of another assignment change. By April my family and I were on a plane for London, UK, 5000 miles away from our racing dream. In the last three years I've physically seen the truck 3 times and driven it on two of those occassions. After a few decades of day dreaming, a few years of work, and lots of money, I've gotten to personally put about 300 good dirt miles on my race truck.

Financially it's by far been the worst investment I could have ever made. But I would've payed much more to have the experience we had in Vegas in January. After 30+ years of being a fan and spectator, taking a green flag in your own ride is worth every cent you've shelled out along the way.

Full circle for us, the next time I plan on getting in the truck will be the 2014 Mint 400. To be able to participate in the race that introduced our family to the sport and became a staple of our quality time together will be hugely symbolic for us. The bottom line is from top to bottom this sport is filled with people who have amazing stories that reflect their passion and dedication to desert racing and I'm proud to count myself among them.
 

BRINGTHERUCKUS

Nimrod de PMC
My story is simple, Uncle raced class 8 since the 70's I was born in '90, been in the shop ever since... '08 I finally got a ride and have always appreciated the opportunities that have been presented to me. I really would like to thank PMC racing, and Terry Tolbert of Blue Buzzard Motorsport for all the help.
 

sirhk100

Well-Known Member
Kinda of the other end of the how to do it spectrum... Back in about 2000 I wanted a prerunner bumper on my super sick soon to be badass ride!!! I don't remember how much the shops quoted me but I stumbled on a tubing bender with some dies for about the same price the shops quoted. I had access to some basic tools that my dad had and I had grown up helping him fix cars, dune buggies, dirt bikes, etc... I had a good foundation built and the mindset that I could teach myself so rather then paying a shop to build my bumper I bought some tools and mooched some more tools off my Dad and off I went. Next thing I know and years later I've built a few bumper to bumper cages and met a ton of people in the scene that led to me getting to ride shotgun. The years of growing up riding dirt bikes, reading terrain, memorizing trails, etc all paid off cause everyone I rode with all kept me around typically commenting that I was a great co-driver cause I paid attention to gauges, memorized course and course markers good, put in the time to prerun a ton on my bike and scout various lines, etc... Not to mention, I typically was mechanically inclined enough to jump under any truck and turn a wrench or jerry rig a fix without ever even touching the truck previously.

Years go on and I've gained these skills. I would by no means say I'm a professional fabricator... I'm your text book garage hobbiest guy. I drool over the work top shops and some of you top garage fab guys on here put out but my work seems to hold up. We all know there's a big difference in the cost between playing in the desert and racing in the desert. I could afford to play but I can't justify the expense to race. The situation with J-prich above came along though and it seemed like a good fit for me to land myself with some time in both seats of the race truck. He had the dream to race and thru his position as mentioned came into the financial means to fund a build and I had the ambition to provide the labor and build the truck in exchange for seat time.

Basically, my story... I worked my way into the seats... The first 7S I raced in, I worked for it... I would typically spend a couple weeknight evenings in his garage helping and many weekend days helping. I earned the seat. The Jeepspeed, I kinda rockstarred it a bit and showed up and rode shotgun but I worked my butt off on those race weekends to find the lines, put in the prerun time, help setup pits, tear down pits, learn the jeep, etc... The current situation with J-prich, again, I worked myself into the seats on his truck.

Long story short, you don't necessarily have to be rich to do it, work can get you there if you're willing to learn the skills that others may find value in that could land you that ride you're looking for.

BTW, I built J-prich's truck and every other truck and project for friends using that same manual bender I bought used in 2000 that's been bolted down to 3 different driveways. I built J-prich's truck during the summer of 2012 basically and just about every tube in that truck was bent by hand wearing welding gloves cause the bender was physically too hot to touch in the Vegas summer heat! LOL I literally sweated my ass off for that truck build!

Khris
 

bajarunner

Well-Known Member
I established a reputation for being fast on a bike. word got around and before I knew it I was invited to race Baja as a hired gun. all I had to do is prerun my section and show up, it was bad ass! just happen to be in the right place in the right time!
 

Stover

Well-Known Member
Great thread!
Thanks to all who posted.
For any youngster in love with off-road racing, this thread will likely serve as Cliff notes on how to attain the dream that seems so out of reach.
I took a different route than most.
I always wanted to be Ivan Stewart when I was young.
But how does a poor kit get the opportunity to rub shoulders with the select few who actually race.
Here's how:
1. Graduate High School.
2. Go to college.
3. Get a degree in photo journalism. (I skipped past this step & luckily still made it happen)
4. Frequent any type of off road race event you can, take pictures and submit articles to any website that will publish it.
5. Apply for a job of any kind within any major enthusiast media organization, Print/web/video. (this get's your foot in the door)
6. Work hard and build relationships within the organization, strive for an editorial position.
7. Once you secure a position as an editor at a magazine or website, the opportunity to be embedded with a race team will happen.
8. Accept any opportunity to go cover a race and make whoever invited you proud. In other words, produce results.
9. Additional offers will come in as your name is associated with off road race coverage.
10. Get to know the people involved and make yourself known. Chip-in whenever possible.

Any race effort loves media attention because it helps provide a return on the investment to sponsors.

I've ridden with many of the big names, shot photos from helicopters above Baja, raced as co-driver, worked as chase support, and enjoyed pre-running.
This was my path.
You can do anything you dare to dream, and it doesn't always require big $ to make it happen.
You simply have to put your mind to it and work all the angles.

I achieved my dreams, now go get yours...
http://www.fourwheeler.com/vehicle-reviews/129-0411-2003-dodge-ram-baja-racer/
http://www.fourwheeler.com/events/129-0505-baja-1000-off-road-race/
http://www.fourwheeler.com/features/129-0704-2006-baja-1000-race/
http://www.fourwheeler.com/features/0803or-05-nissan-titan/
http://www.fourwheeler.com/events/129-0904-2008-score-baja-1000-race/
 

Will_Higman

Dakar Finisher
Much like Travis I grew up camping in Baja and riding motorcycles across the desert. I will never forget at six years old riding my Honda Trail 50 (fold up handle bars) across Laguna Salada, that was a long way… The one thing I now regret the most in my early years (80’s) of racing was not recognizing that I needed to market myself. After taking some time off from racing in the mid 90’s I came back with a new perspective and was rewarded.

Here is the rest of my story:
http://willhigman.com/history-bio/

:)
 

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treypal

Well-Known Member
I was 14 living in a small farming community in South Texas when I saw an article in Four Wheeler about a Trophy Truck. I can't remember who's it was, but I thought it was so much cooler than everything else in that magazine. I started doing some research, and found Rod Hall's driving school. I think I was 15 when I called to ask how much it cost to attend, and if I could go without a license. The school was well out of my budget, and my mom being a single parent working on a teacher's salary couldn't afford it either. Eventually girls, beer, and college helped me forget about off-roading, then Dust to Glory came out, and I was hooked. My future brother-in-law saw it around the same time, and we decided we had to goto Baja.

The first time we went was the 2008 Baja 1000. We found out about Locos Mocos online, emailed them and asked if we could come out and camp near them. Not expecting to get to help in any way at all, by the end of the weekend we were slapping stickers on bikes and cars, thinking there is no way it could get any better than this. I found out about RDC while down there, and when I got home I discovered desert racing in Texas. Went out to the first race to spectate and try to help out. I don't think we were much help, but we met a few people, and I was able to score a ride in a Jeep Speed at the next race, which happened to be at the Beal's place the Texana Ranch. I get out there for the first time, and see my first TT up close. A bright red Geiser. I could believe I was standing so close to something that I'd only seen on TV, and flying past in Baja before. The jeep speed did 3 laps before it broke, but I was hooked.

I learned everything I possible could about being a codriver. How Lowrance GPS work, radios, tires, jacks, you name it. I did everything I could to be valuable in the car. I raced with the same guy when he moved up to 10 car, all the while, helping the Beals with GPS and Radio stuff. Occasionally being rewarded with a prerun lap in the TT. The guy I was racing with hurt his neck and had to sell his car, but it all worked out. I had been helping the Beals long enough that I got to continue to help them out, eventually earning a right seat in their trucks.

During the same time, I bought a Raptor, did some Baja prerunning, and started organized Raptor events. My 2013 Texas Raptor Run had 100 Raptors in attendance. The largest Raptor event ever. I've met a ton of great people in the industry, been blessed to get to race at the top level with an amazing family, and have been able to be a part of keeping desert racing alive in Texas.

I've never driven in a race yet, but I know my day will come. My advice to anyone out there is to meet some good people, be helpful, learn everything you can about the cars your helping out with. Meet everyone you can, having a good network in desert racing will get you really far. Lastly don't get bummed out if you're sitting on the sidelines for a while, if you don't have the money, it's going to take time before you can get in a car. I consider myself really lucky. The first race I went to was the 2008 Baja 1000, and I raced 5 races this year in a TT.
 

DanMcMillin

Crane Motorsports
You all merely adopted off road racing, I was born in it, molded by it.

 
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mrmatt

Well-Known Member
Awesome thread!

For me my story began with my family. My family loved adventuring all over the desert. Some of my earliest memories are in the dirt! One of those imparticular was the Fireworks 250 in the mid to late eighties. Watching Walker Evans and Ivan Stewart battle it out while eating chicken gizzards from Del Chicken in Barstow with my parents and brother. Off-road racing spawned my love for racing and when I was about 8 years old I knew that I wanted to be a race car driver!
My Dad and Uncle had plans of racing a 5/1600 back then but life happens and it wasn't to be for them. My Dad got hurt at work, my uncle got hurt and their dream of racing was put aside.
As I got older I had a sad realization that racing was not cheap and that my family couldn't afford to do it. As life went on things changed. My parents sold their baja bug (so that I could play ice hockey) and the trips to the desert got less frequent. Then I made alot of mistakes in life that severly effected my family. I squanderd the chance of a college education through ice hockey in lieu of drugs and drinking. At this point in my life the driving race cars was a long lost childhood dream.
Fast forward through some terrible years for myself and the pain I put my entire family through...My family had never lost their love of off-roading and my brother had a bronco and my parents had a 4wd ranger that they would occasionally go out and explore with. At this point I had turned my life around and had been sober for several years. I needed a daily driver truck for work and bought myself a little lifted ford ranger. At this point my relationship with my family had been being repaired through my sobriety and I was invited to come to camping trip to Owl Canyon with my brother and parents. I took my little lifted Ranger and had blast. It began to re kindle my intrest in off roading. Then later that year I was sitting around the house and was on the internet and saw that there was an off road race that day in Barstow (the MORE Freedom 250). I packed up my step son and a cooler in my little lifted Ranger and drove out to Barstow. Before the race started I decided to go play Walker Evans on the power line roads and promptly broke the crap out of my truck. I managed to get it back to Hodge road where some other folks helped me fix it so I could get it home. As I drove home that night the race car dream came back full swing and it became my life's mission to drive a race car!
The next year after a few more desert trips with my family, my dad and I bought a 9 car togethor and the rest is Kaveman history. What is even better is that my whole family is in the car. My dad, my mom, my brother, my wife and eventually my kids have all been in car at the races.

I can't even begin to describe the feeling when you get when you get to achieve a childhood dream! That feeling is why I spend so much time and so much hard work to continue doing what I love. I just want to hold on to that childhood dream.

I think my Dad said it best....he told me one day while prepping the car, "If had to stop doing this tommorow...at least I got to do it."

I am grateful that I have gotten to do this.
 

biffgnar

Well-Known Member
Lot's of stories about people who've been at this all their lives. Anybody else out there who really only came to this sport later in life? Personally, I went to college, law school, got a job on Wall Street and have been pretty fortunate in life. Now I suppose the path for most people with that experience would be to start writing lots of checks and potentially get in over their head. Seems like that could end up great or end up a disaster. Personally, I chose a different way - a way that has involved a lot more time and work than a lot of people at my stage in life would think was sane. A few years back after getting divorced I started getting involved in the jeep trail riding world. In that world, Ultra4 is the racing community that a lot of people look up to. In 2012, I took off two and a half weeks from the investment bank that I work at and got an "internship" with Hammerking Productions, the Ultra4 race promoter. Spent that time on Means Dry Lake Bed sleeping in a toy hauler with three other guys (all at least 20 years younger than me) doing whatever needed to be done - surveying, putting up microwave towers, pounding stakes, course marking, hauling barricade fence all over the desert, etc., etc. Met a lot of good people, learned a lot about putting on a race and while I was exhausted by the end it was a great experience. Through people I met there I got the opportunity earlier this year to split driving in what I believe was the only UTV in the NORRA 1000 this year. The fire we had at the end of day one (that put me in burn unit for three weeks) threw us a bit of a curveball on our plans there but I still learned. Two weeks ago I spent Thanksgiving week sleeping in a race trailer in Johnson Valley and working with a fairly well known independent shock tuner. Again, learning from him, seeing a lot of friends and making new connections. All of that has led to me getting a driver's seat in one of Ultra4's new spec class cars for the 2014 King of the Hammers. My co-driver will be an author who will write a series of articles about our experience (the lead up, the prep, the race, etc.) which Ultra4 will use to market their new arrive and drive program in their series. Have I worked hard the last couple years to have this opportunity? I think so. Do I have the experience yet to pull it off? I guess we will see. What's next? Well, I do have the opportunity right now to buy a brand new Class 5 car that hasn't raced yet at a pretty good price, although as I look at that I am very envious of all of you who live on the west coast. Coordinating storage, race prep, transport, crew, etc. from 3000 miles away is a daunting task. Maybe for me, renting time in Pete's truck or from some of the other of you is the best way for now for me to continue to gain experience.
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
Great thread! Here's my story.

In the 80's I loved watching the Mickey Thompson races on TV and seeing off road racing in the magazines. When I was 15 I had the opportunity to buy a 1983 Toyota and learned to drive it in an open field near my house before I got my license. Later I put 3" lift leafs on it and bigger tires and did as much offroading as I could. I was also racing BMX and then cross country and downhill mountain bikes in the early to mid 90's. Around the same time a guy I knew that raced bikes was also into desert racing. (I lived in NorCal back then) Through him I met Mark Naugle who used to chase for Scott Sells who was racing 7s back then. I ended up going to a LARANA race in Barstow and was hooked. A solid axle Toyota isn't the greatest for going fast in the desert but that didn't stop me from trying. I went to as many races as I could and also the Toys for Tots poker runs at Slash X Cafe.

About a year or two later I bought a 2wd 1980 Toyota a friend totaled and I wanted to build a prerunner with it. That escalated quickly into building a race truck. I was taking a machining class at a junior college and built some of the parts for the race truck in there. I raced MDR and VORRA in the mid to late 90's in class 7 and had a great time.

I think the first time I went to Baja was in 1996 or 1997 for the Baja 1000. My race truck had a windshield and was still registered so I drove that all the way down from NorCal to watch the race.
During those years I met a lot of great people and we ended up creating the Locos Mocos pit crew in 1998. The goal was to help anyone that needed it and try and pit in a hard to get to spot where people could use the help. It's been 15 years now and I have met so many great people over the years.

I only raced for a couple more years because it started getting to expensive and I also enjoyed filming the races. In late 2000 I had the idea to make a desert racing highlight video and talked to Nicole from Total Chaos Fabrication about helping with the business and marketing side of things. I had also met Klaus and Paul before they started RDC out at the MDR races. They were filming also so Nicole and I talked Klaus into contributing all his footage for the first project. At the 2001 Off Road Expo we released Dezert People The Movie.

Shortly after that I sold my race truck to some guys in Ohio that had the dream of racing the Baja 1000. (I've never seen the truck again and no idea if they ever raced it…) Then I bought a stock 2wd Toyota T100 and started building my prerunner. I built most of the truck myself and had Mark Newhan build the front suspension and he has helped with changes over the years.

Since DP1 was released in 2001 there have been 10 more Dezert People DVDs released and I also produced a rock crawling / offloading DVD calling Gription in 2005. Klaus stopped filming for DP around #7 to focus on RDC and I also partnered with Klaus on RDC around 2007. Recently I cut back to part time on RDC which allowed me to finish DP10 and I am filming for DP11 now. And I am focusing on freelance filming, design, decals etc.. I also bought the vintage off road site called Off Road Action in 2012 that was started by Wes Kibble in Canada about 6 years ago. It took some time but I redesigned the site and some new features are in the works.

The only racing I have done in the last 10 years was co-drive with Steve Olliges in his class 8 last year at the Rage at the River race. That truck is so fast and works great (thumbs up to Mark Newhan who built it). And it looks like I might have an opportunity to get back in the drivers seat at next years NORRA.

It's hard to think of more advice than what has already been talked about for people that want to get into this sport. They are pretty much spot on. One thing I can add is that this community is small and like a family so don't screw up any opportunities you might be given and don't screw anyone over. I've seen it happen way to many times.

I attached an old pic of my race truck from a MDR race in the 90's.
 

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Bryan J

Well-Known Member
I remember going to Larana races in Barstow when I was 2 or 3 years old. My dad would pit for his friend Sandy Parker in his class 9 car. Even at 3 years old I remember wanting to be a race car driver when I grew up. SCORE Laughlin Races, and MDR races were a regular thing. By 5 years old I knew almost every TT driver, and I remember talking with Ivan at the Choo Choo bar in Laughlin...I told him I was a Walker Evans fan...DOH!

I did Karate until I was 12 years old, and didn't catch too many races, and when I was 13 I was offered a ride in a quarter midget car from a family friend. I raced for about 2 years and the car owner moved to Oklahoma. From there my attention turned to high school and football. Didn't catch to many races, but still hit the expo every year and bought any Dezert People video I could get my hands on.

When I moved onto college, on orientation day I met a girl during an ice-breaker, and she mentioned that her and her sister had rolled their dad's racecar in Barstow over the summer. Naturally I introduced myself, and asked if I could come help her family race. After several weeks of me bugging and practically stalking her, her and her dad agreed.

2008 MORE Chili Cookoff was my first race with the ORAF team. I was lucky enough to meet Richard Garavito and Rulo Solano. This was where I got my first ride in a class 12 car, and of course I was HOOKED. I continued to pit for them and rode in my first race at the Ball Out 250 in 09. In December of 09 I was asked to start the Holiday 200 in the right seat of Larry Antuna's 5-open with Steven Fuentes. It was a championship race. I was beside myself. Well the race didn't go as planned, as we broke an arm trying to outrace Rulo but me and Steven developed a great in-car team. We race together as much as possible now. Through Antuna and Steven I was able to start the 2010 Baja 1000 in Tom Bird's 5 open car. He even rode shotgun with me at the 2012 Balls Out 250 where Art Savedra allowed us to race one of his 5/1600 cars.

The Sunday after the 2009 Holiday 200, I went with Rulo to test a customers 1600 car. This is where I met Big Laine from Lone Kid Racing. He was talking with Rulo about a new 1600 car that had just been built for his son Lucas. The first race was the following weekend at SNORE's Rage at the River. Laine casually mentioned that Lucas needed a co-driver, and I opened my big mouth "I can ride with him. I rode in a 5 Open car yesterday during a championship race." Because obviously, 2 races and about 300 miles makes me a seasoned off road veteran. Rulo could have shot me down right there, but he gave Laine an approving nod and the rest is history. I now race full time in the right seat with Lucas in the Lone Kid Racing 1600 car.

Right place, right time, with the right people. I have been truly blessed to race with my "second" family.
 
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