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Here's my story - what's yours?

Perfect Race

Well-Known Member
Great thread. Puts some back ground with all the screen names.
I started out as a kid in Barstow working on my dads Baja bug. Had a paper route and saved all my money and got my first Baja bug at 13. Fixed it up over many years, beat the hell out of it, kept upgrading it and eventually made it nice enough to get it in Hot VWs magazine.
Met many local Barstow racers and helped them in the garage, on the cars and at the races . Dave Girdner, Rick Johnson, the Craig's, Jim Clements. We lost, won and broke and I learned from all those years and races. We won three Mint 400s in a row with the Girdners, and I eventually I got to drive Ricks single seat Class 9 at the 87 Baja 1000.
Graduated college and got a job at Baldwin Racing (Jim, Jason, Josh and Carl Renezeder) they were racing class 1 Chenowths. Got to work all the time, go to races and all over Baja. Jason won the points in 92 and the car I prepped and rode in all year won the 94 Class 1 points in Score. They also tore a lot of stuff up and I learned from that and saw all the money go out.
We got to build three new Trophy Trucks, learned a lot and broke more stuff, but they were really fast, and rode solo with Jim in the 95 Baja 1000 from TJ to La Paz in a TT, to finish another dream.
Got a job at PPI in 95 and was second mechanic on Ivan Stewarts TT for two years. Working at PPI at a top team was absolutely unbelievable. The shop, people and experience I learned was incredible.
Was asked to switch to the PPI Cart Indy cars in 97 and 98 and did that for two years including jackman and fuel vent in the pit stops. Another great life experience.
I was able to meet and make friends with some knowledgable people, participate and learn. There is never an end to the race prep and preparation from pit boxes to trailers to race cars.
I was ready for my own real race car and I was able to buy a old Chenowth Class 1 and parts from Bill Church. Worked on it and saved and eventually raced my own car. Racing is expensive so I got a partner to split the work and driving and we raced many years, won some races and a MDR championship. The car is basically ready to go just been sitting through this economic down turn. Itching to get back out in the desert. My wife even raced many Powder Puff races and won a race and did awesome.
We didn't have GPS or RDC when I was racing a lot. Now it seems way easier to meet a team or find someone local to your area and start helping out. The theme keeps repeating here in this thread. You don't necessarily need much experience. Just find a team that needs some help and give it a try. It might take a few tries to get in with the right team but definitely some good times to be had in the desert.




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

Bro_Gill

Well-Known Member
Pretty common. I grew up in Northern California and as akid, we rode minibikes all overthe neighborhood wishing we were like Bob Hannah or Marty Tripes. We had a little race course set-up and would spend plenty of days destroying anything we could with 2 wheels and a motor, from Biriggs and Startton minis to Honda Xr75s and everything in between (I ran a Vespa Moped for a couple years!) Anyway, my dad had a glass dune buggy and we would make a couple trips a year to Pismo and see the latest rail jobs and 3 wheelers there and he also would take us to the 4wd races around Coalinga which had cross country and drag races. About 1976 we went and saw the movie Dirt! at the drive-in and I was hooked on the desert racing stuff. I was only about 10, but seeing the Funco single seat cars racing in Mexico just was so cool to me. So my dream was set. At about 14 years old, I started driving the glass car around the area I grew up (plenty of dirt roads and stuff to blast around on) and began learning about VWs and what ot took to make them race cars. I had dreams of racing the glass car because they were still being raced when I saw Dirt!, but I soon got a rule book from SCORE and figured out I couldn't race it in class 5. I took summer welding classes and started learning throgh trial and error what it would take to build up VWs for racing. On my 16th birthday, a couple friends and I went to catch the finish of the first Frontier 500 in Reno (we cut school, slept in my buddies Rambler, acted like we were racing at the Peppermill and scored some press kits!) saw the finish, looked at race cars up close, and that was it. I found an off road fab shop in the town near where I lived and started sweeping floors and doing menial jobs. They had a 1600 car that I would go out to the desert and pit for. Eventually, I got to prerun and drive some of the off road cars, help build a couple at the shop, and started building my own car. I drove the 1600 car, built a class 5 type prerunner, and then moved toi southern California where all the real action was. Once down here, I bought a single seat chassis that was an old 9 car and turned it into a new 9 car at the time, a Challenger and started racing it. Out of my own pocket, I was able to run the car 3-4 times a year. This was with a fairly new wife and a 1 year old son who also posts here on RDC. What I figured was I could afford to race, even without a big bankroll, as long as I could do most of the meial fab work and prep myself and use money saved there to buy quality stuff like a built engine and trans from reputable builders. It takes lots of personal time and work to do it this way, but it is how you can do it on a true budget. It may not be the fastest racing there is, but you will be racing.
 

C4

Well-Known Member
I feel like JrSyko when I see people put down anyone here trying to get involved. I agree that they are going about it wrong but how will they learn. How many times did you fall when learning to ride a bike? We all start somewhere. I once made a call to Robby Gordon and asked him to keep a truck he was selling at the time and let me drive it. He laughed at me then just as I would laugh if I was asked that question now. But it didn't slow me down!

My Dad has been racing since I was 3 or 4 years old. His boss / friend was the owner of Hendricks GMC. He owned Saddleback Park and sponsored a few drag racing teams. My Dad started out working at Saddleback and eventually started working on Marv's racecar. He worked his way into the right seat and then bought his own single seat Class 9. He raced for many years and myself and my entire family went along. We didn't go on many family vacations but we did spend time together working on the car as well as weekends at the track. Once family life got to expensive he parked the class 9 but still remained as involved as he could. My Dad is the kind of guy that is first to dive in and usually that last guy to come out. He can fix a broken car with a popsicle stick and a pocket knife. So people are drawn to him. Every team needs a MacGyver and my Dad is that guy, in addition to being a great mechanic already. He has worked with many different people over the years but the one I remember the most was Mike Horner. Some of you may know him as multi time Baja 1000 winner and the guy that drove his nearly stock S10 to the 1000, won the race and drove it home. Mike became a hero of mine. In addition to Walker, Rod Hall, Don Adams, and many more.
I alway knew I wanted to race and that my family didn't have the $$ to put me in a vehicle so I would have to do it myself. Just like every "kid" on here that thinks he can wheel a car better than anyone else if he just had the chance to show it. There was a gap in our "racing lives" as my Dad worked hard to provide for his family and the time and $$ to go racing wasn't there like before. I was determined to race though. I started working at my first "real job" at Toys R Us. I worked nights, weekends, double shifts and soon had the money to buy my own race truck. I bought an old 7 4x4 that was raced by Joe Mcpherson in the 82 Baja 1000. My Dad helped me put a fuel cell in it so it was legal and away I went! I had mild success with it but it was MINE and I loved it. I later bought a Class 8 and had more fun with that.

Much like my Dad, and many other people, racing got expensive and I had to park the truck and concentrate on work and school. I graduated High School by the skin of my teeth and started college. I thought I was going to be the next Ivan Stewart so never put a lot of focus into school. Boy was I wrong! But I never lost the dream of wanting to go fast in the desert. I met a beautiful girl and got married. Racing seemed to get further and further away from being possible. I then bumped into Mike Horner, my childhood hero and he told me the story of his truck being stolen and recovered but with everything but cage and cab stripped away. I had always had a passion for marketing so I made a deal with Mike. I will get you the money to race and I get to split time in the truck with you. I went to work and signed some pretty good deals with some big companies. With Mike we won back to back championships and the 2007 Baja 1000. After that I raced a season in CORR and had a HORRIBLE truck that I never go the chance to even learn to drive competitively and lost my sponsorship.

I had a Son and then went through a divorce. So once again life took over and racing took a back seat. I have had the chance to drive here and there in some pretty nice cars and trucks but nothing of my own since then. I now have a GREAT job with a company that makes parts that you all will be using soon. We will be supporting the BITD series in 2014 and sponsoring non other than Mike Horner. I will be back in the left seat soon!

Chuck Foreman
 

ndvalium

Rescue Director
When I think about my story, it is hard for me to imagine when I actually got the bug.....

I had never even really heard of off road until I moved to Vegas at 20 years old. I had never off roaded and lived a pretty sheltered life. I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and somehow ended up on a long off road trip camping in the middle of the Utah mountains when we had originally planned a trip to Laughlin. 3 days of fire service roads in the middle of no where before I ever even dreamed of a cell phone.

A few years later a friend of mine was asked by Dave Brune ( yes the same grumpy bastard that still does all the timing and scoring for BITD) if we would man a check point for a race. Being certified as an EMT I was asked to bring my personal jump bag just in case and I was ready to watch my first off road race out behind Goodsprings. I burned up 12 rolls of film. Yes film, that strange stuff you used to have to take to someone in a little hut to determine if you actually got a picture of what you were trying to.

Shortly there after, I started working for the local ambulance and was asked to volunteer as a medic for a couple races so I did. It was the start of my passion in life. At one point I was working all SCORE, SNORE, BITD, MRAN races in Southern Nevada. At that point the rescue teams were merely an after thought guy with a 4x4 and a few band aids and severely underfunded....20 years later, now we are just severely underfunded so I guess that is progress for you. In 2007 I started my own company so Rescue teams would have a more organized approach to providing services and covered by licensing and the lovely insurances in case something goes bad. For the most part very few even know we exist until they need us.

I have sold nearly every worldly possession non race related I owned to buy and fund equipment needed for off road rescue teams. I have given the majority of my income from real jobs over the years to keep it going and wouldn't change a thing.

I was asked recently by my own family members why I continue to do this, and days like Saturday are why.

You see Saturday, we had a 19 year old motorcycle rider that went down and was unconscious and in seizure. My team was with him in 15 minutes. he was on a helicopter to Vegas in 30 minutes and at the Trauma center in 49 minutes from the time of the accident. Add a minute or two for us to get the report. In the case when someone has a head injury with 3 bleeds, time is what matters most...Anyway I visited him in the hospital yesterday with Casey and tomorrow he will get to go home. He will have a lengthy road to recovery but he will be home for Christmas.

Clayton is why we do this. Randy is why we do this. - Cody is why we do this. I have given all I have but am forever addicted and indebted for race teams, promoters and all the others for allowing us to do this year after year.

Much love to my off road family - Merry Christmas all!
 

GDRBORETIRED

Well-Known Member
I read about the early record runs. Followed the early NORRA races on paper any where I could find even a few words. Interrupted by military service. Worked in VW specialty shops after I got out. Started duneing and breaking stuff. That led to the decision that if I was going to break stuff if had best have at least the possibility of some return (Ha Ha). What to build? 40 HP motors are cheap. They are fairly easy on transaxles. Sand buggy frames are pretty cheap even a Chenowth. Find a partner and look out class 9! Clueless we start some local short track and oval races, having fun and even win a race. Time to step up, off to the desert in Yakima, Wa. DNF (ault. died) still learning. Build a street Baja for DD and prerunner. Lost partner- back to pitting, chasing and keep preruning. Change jobs and get a new partner. Get a new frame thru work. Build for and race the Mint 400, another DNF and still learning. Hook up with another team as second driver. several years later we win VORRA class championship. Buy that car, spend 9 months prepping for the Baja 1000. Another DNF, they don't often go as planned. More years of pitting, chasing, helping and always preruning. Now after retiring still at it! We are now prepping for our third NORRA 1000 which we have finished twice both times 3rd in class.
 

TMorford

Well-Known Member
Long story kind of short... My dad was good friends with an employee of TRD during the factory days so we would always go to the MTEG races when they were around and a few SCORE Barstow races to watch. I got really into baseball playing all over the Southwest etc so offroad kind of fell to the wayside. I got flat burned out on it when I was 16 and some happenings on my high school team made me bail for good. Within a few months I learned that my dad used to work with Bob Graham who was now working for a friends dad at a dealership. Just showed up at the shop one day, started sweeping, cleaning etc and moved up to actually wrenching during prep before I was told to get a firesuit and helmet along with a waiver to race since I wasn't 18 yet haha. From there everything just kind of snowballed.

I helped Bob for over 2 years and met a ton of great people. Chased for Mango Racing for a few years. Chased and codawged for Mike Horner and the Andersons for a few years in the 7S Toyota (still do). Chased for Brady Helm in his 10 car. Helped out Dogeater at MDR for years. The list goes on and on for helping out, kind of weird to think I have been doing this for 10 years at only 26. Personally I bought an older 5 car that Jerry Penhall built from Brady Helm and raced it in MDR and SNORE. Sold that car and bought a Chenowth car from Brady (again) and raced it in MDR, SNORE and MORE. Ended up trading that car with a friend for his 1400 Ranger that I am slowly finishing while I finish up my college degree. Looking back I am definitely glad I bailed on baseball despite some rumors of being signed out of highschool, offroad is a lot more fun.
 

B-Dub 1020

Well-Known Member
I love this thread. I was born in a military family with LITTLE money. My father fought in 3 wars , 2 purple hearts and retired in 1970. We moved from Japan to Victorville Ca. I was 8 yrs old. I went to an off road race in Jean (the pops Oasis 400) with my older sisters husband. He raced a Bronco/Jeep with a 429 cobra jet and C-6 with a guy named Jim George who owned the Shell gas station in Lynwood next to the Harvey House. I was hooked. I then went to every Barstow , Jean and Vegas race willing to work and get dirty doing anything I could to be there. I got a paper route , collected pop bottles , mowed lawns , raked leafs and did anything to save enough money to buy a dirt bike and race. We built a trailer with a Lincoln stick welder and scraps. Now I was on my way to racing ($20.00 entry fees) 395 cycle park, Corona, Escape country , Saddleback etc. begging someone to pull the trailer. Graduated school and went to work for the city of VV and was sent to the sewer plants wading in crap and cleaning the grates where everything came in, talk about gross. I bought my first bare Chenowth frame and we built a challenger car with junkyard parts except for the bad arse white KYB gas shocks and man was I cool. After a few Lucerne races off road racing came to a stop as I had a child and got into doing electrical work. Worked many hours and traveled everywhere for my work. But I always kept a buggy or bikes and went camping with my kids. One morning I woke the wife and 3 kids up at 400 am and said come on lets go to breakfast I have something to tell you all. We were sitting at an IHOP and they all looked at me and said well what is it. I laughed and said I am selling the play stuff and we are going class 10 racing. I did exactly that. Then life threw me a curve and I became sick. I beat that so far (Thank you Lord Jesus) and I have been racing and doing all the work on the car with my two boys and friends. We race whenever we have the extra money to do so. We all chip in and work our butts off at work and on the car to still race. If I can do it anyone can with hard work. We are saving now and will see you at the Parker 400 as a low budget team on a mission to get on the podium and have some family fun. Work hard and never screw someone to better yourself. Always look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.
 

Fourstroker

Well-Known Member
Great thread Travis. So here's my story.

Started going to the desert when I was born basically. Our family spent a couple of weekends a month out duning and riding for many years. One of my Dad's good buddies were the owners of German Auto(and later SACO Products). Sometime in late 1977 German Auto had built a Chenowth Class 2 and race it for the first time at Saddleback Park. My brother and I were both hooked immediately. A couple of months later we went to our first desert race, the SNORE Shamrock 250 in Henderson, NV. My Dad started crewing and before long was driving with them as well. This included a 3rd Place at the 79 B1K Peninsula run.

Soon they were getting more competitive and were building new cars with the help of Lynn Chenowth and Chenowth Racecars. Went to my first B1K in 1983 (Yeah the 2 day one) and our friend/Chenowth sponsored driver soloed to win Class 1 and 2nd Overall to Mark McMillin. What a way for a 12 year old to get broken into Mexico racing. My pops raced until about 86 when a back injury from the 84 B1K was too much for him to race with.

We continued to support the team for a couple years but high school sports took precedent for awhile. Nothing better than being told that you can occupy yourself during a Lucerne race by racing around the "Backup" class 1 car all day. Went to a few races in college with some friends but was pretty unplugged from racing til about 2002. Started following RDC but didnt sign up for awhile. In March 2003 my brother and I decided to head out to the MDR race in Barstow to spectate/drink beer/etc. Ended up helping some guys get there car back to Main oit after they broke near the Ant Hill. After a few beers we were invited back by these guys for the next race, etc. My brother and I started by chasing, then moved into co-driving and eventually driving with both a class 12 and Sportsman buggy......as well as riding in whoevers car needed some "Meat in the Right Seat". One year I rode in 10 different race cars and they started calling me the "Riding rental". And I was. In 2005 we hatched a plan to race the B1K with one of the teams. That ended up involving the crews from 4 teams and was one of my most memorable racing experiences. Nothing like spending 400 miles in the car with your brother and finishing the race.

Continued racing with the other team but wanted more so we saved from side jobs, begging, small sponsors to buy our first car. It was a very "experienced" 1982 Raceco Class 10 beam car that we rebuilt anbd raced for a couple years. In the mean time we were saving to build a new car. Late 2007 we started the build and she debuted at 2008 Powder Puff and the rest is history. Still drive/ride with others occasionally and spend as much time as we can in the deZ.

Wish I had more time to race our car but kids and life have got in the way. Dirt bikes seem to be easy to get out so we are getting our fix that way right now. havent raced a bike since 2002 but might real soon.
 

B-Dub 1020

Well-Known Member
Great thread Travis. So here's my story.

Started going to the desert when I was born basically. Our family spent a couple of weekends a month out duning and riding for many years. One of my Dad's good buddies were the owners of German Auto(and later SACO Products). Sometime in late 1977 German Auto had built a Chenowth Class 2 and race it for the first time at Saddleback Park. My brother and I were both hooked immediately. A couple of months later we went to our first desert race, the SNORE Shamrock 250 in Henderson, NV. My Dad started crewing and before long was driving with them as well. This included a 3rd Place at the 79 B1K Peninsula run.

Soon they were getting more competitive and were building new cars with the help of Lynn Chenowth and Chenowth Racecars. Went to my first B1K in 1983 (Yeah the 2 day one) and our friend/Chenowth sponsored driver soloed to win Class 1 and 2nd Overall to Mark McMillin. What a way for a 12 year old to get broken into Mexico racing. My pops raced until about 86 when a back injury from the 84 B1K was too much for him to race with.

We continued to support the team for a couple years but high school sports took precedent for awhile. Nothing better than being told that you can occupy yourself during a Lucerne race by racing around the "Backup" class 1 car all day. Went to a few races in college with some friends but was pretty unplugged from racing til about 2002. Started following RDC but didnt sign up for awhile. In March 2003 my brother and I decided to head out to the MDR race in Barstow to spectate/drink beer/etc. Ended up helping some guys get there car back to Main oit after they broke near the Ant Hill. After a few beers we were invited back by these guys for the next race, etc. My brother and I started by chasing, then moved into co-driving and eventually driving with both a class 12 and Sportsman buggy......as well as riding in whoevers car needed some "Meat in the Right Seat". One year I rode in 10 different race cars and they started calling me the "Riding rental". And I was. In 2005 we hatched a plan to race the B1K with one of the teams. That ended up involving the crews from 4 teams and was one of my most memorable racing experiences. Nothing like spending 400 miles in the car with your brother and finishing the race.

Continued racing with the other team but wanted more so we saved from side jobs, begging, small sponsors to buy our first car. It was a very "experienced" 1982 Raceco Class 10 beam car that we rebuilt anbd raced for a couple years. In the mean time we were saving to build a new car. Late 2007 we started the build and she debuted at 2008 Powder Puff and the rest is history. Still drive/ride with others occasionally and spend as much time as we can in the deZ.

Wish I had more time to race our car but kids and life have got in the way. Dirt bikes seem to be easy to get out so we are getting our fix that way right now. havent raced a bike since 2002 but might real soon.
You forgot the part of walking a couple miles out of the desert with my two boys and your brother after both cars blew engines. Your brother had my youngest Turbo (12 then now he's 21) believing that if no one found you guys he was a cannibal and would eat him. Ah the good ol days Kevin
 

Fourstroker

Well-Known Member
You forgot the part of walking a couple miles out of the desert with my two boys and your brother after both cars blew engines. Your brother had my youngest Turbo (12 then now he's 21) believing that if no one found you guys he was a cannibal and would eat him. Ah the good ol days Kevin
That was my brother and his co-dog Marty. I did however drive your car out on the back of a 2 car wagon-train of tow straps. The look on your face when you pulled up was priceless.
 

Bear Grass

Well-Known Member
Great Thread! For all those looking for ways to get into this sport, have patience and it may just come to you! Born in the desert of SE New Mexico, I was literally hooked on driving fast the first time an older kid pushed me down the side walk while I drove a red wagon sometime around the age of six. I may not be able to remember what I had for supper last night but I can still remember the sensation of that ride!
Got the go-cart on a swap at around the age of 8 and wore the tires off sliding it sideways in the gravel parking lots around the high school. It was soon after that that my Mom took me to see, “On any Sunday.” Damn, that was cool!
Soon after that I was introduced to the sand hills about 18 miles SE of town. I began hanging out and helping some older guys work on and build their sand buggies. The dirt bike came next followed by a series of 4 WDs and hot rod cars.
I then took about a 25 year hiatus during which I got married, had kids and built a career. I was never too far away from either rebuilding a mid 70’s corvette with my boys, watching all kinds of racing or occasionally picking up an off road magazine.
About a year ago, I found out on Facebook that an old school bud had an off road truck and was racing it in WEST TEXAS. Even though I have yet to officially race, I have purchased a chassis, which is in the construction phase and in addition will be picking up my newest truck (7200) this weekend. The good lord willing and the creek in it’s banks we plan on having a hell of a time in 2014. At age 52 I am finally going to be living one of my dreams.
 
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Riverguy553

Well-Known Member
When I was 16 I was working at a 76 gas station in La Palma and the owner Jack Zandbergen and mechanic Robert Moore were building a 5/1600 car, they invited me to a La Rana race in Lucerne, I think it was 1996, after that race I was hooked! I started helping prep the car and do anything I could to race with them, I think in 97/98 I went to every race I could. I finally had the chance to ride shotgun in 99 and I did that for 2 years. In 2000 I got my chance to drive the last race in the MDR series, we did really good and I believe we won and also won the points championship! Unfortantually the following year the owner of the car was over racing it and the partner couldn't afford to race it anymore, he got married and had kids... I then moved on to working at a eroupean car shop learning how to work on cars, well they got involved and bought a new 2/1600 car, I was able to ride shotgun with them for 2 years then they all quit as it got expensive. I then bought this nice 1600 car that was 3 years old for $7000, after buying it I realized racing was not as cheap as I thought so someone offered me almost double what i paid for it so I sold it and paid off some debt. During all this I met a young kid named Daniel Folts, me and him became good friends and we still are to the day, I would ride with him in his 9 car days, then after going to all the SNORE races I met and became friends with a lot of the Vegas racers. So one day I get a call from Daniel and he says Bryan Anderson is selling his 16 car and I can get you a smoking deal, so the following weekend I'm driving to Vegas to pick up a single seat Mirage 1600 car. It took me 2 years to rebuild it to Daniel Folts way and my first race was San Felipe 250 in 2006, we had 60 cars in class, that was an eye opener but we had a great time! I went on to race that car I think 6-7 times over 2 years and sold it at the end of 2007. Now all I do is go to some races and support Daniel and RPI, hopefully down the road I will be back in the drivers seat! Never give up and put in hard work, hopefully it will pay off!
 

Slippery P

Well-Known Member
Ive been around off road racing all my life, my grandfather started T&Js offroad with Tom Barnett SR. Thats how my dad got into offroad racing, he raced Jeeps with that crazy crew through the 70s. In the Late 70s early 80s Eric Heiden and his brother Mark started their own team (Gadzooks) Which they also raced Jeeps up through the 90s, Thats when I came into this world(1982) I remember running around their race shop as a little guy probably bugging the crap out of them always in the driver seat pretending I was Robby Gordon. I guess my first ride was steering the race car through tech. any chance I could get. They always called me Racin Jason, we own property in Johnson Valley so I cut my teeth learning how to drive sideways at an early age. I was always in the pits trying to get in on the action, Preran with them as much as I could, and trying to get a ride during testing any time the chance was there. Flash forward to 2001 I was going to automotive school in AZ. The Gadzooks team by now had moved up to class 8 under a new team banner (Los Amigos Offroad Racing). Eric gave me the opportunity that year to co-drive for him, we won the MDR class 8 championship as well as the overall points championship. Since then Ive only been able to pit and chase for teams from Trophy Truck to class 11 being that real life has gotten in the way. Chasing the class 11 car at the 1000 was the most fun and fulfilling. I will always be greatful for the opportunity the Gadzooks team gave me in 2001. The team is now back under the Gadzooks banner and very competitive in the Jeepspeed series. Hopefully soon I will be racing my own vehicle possibly in the Jeepspeed series, it would only be fitting.
 

william724

New Member
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?


Thank you for posting this man I appreciate your love for the sport it's self and not all the glits and glam

I'm 19 and want nothing more than to race. Anything Since I was 9 I had a Baka but. And I spent every waking minute of my life learning about Oran's working on it. I'm currently in the fire academy and should be graduating in a few months into one of 10 job slots One of my biggest motivations was one day having my name on the side of a truck or buggy The hardest part is physically stepping away from the off roading family but it's part of the hard work I have to put in. And I'm willing to do anything
Thank you again your post was inspiring and you have a great story


Th


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baja_racer

Well-Known Member
Long hours..........many long hours at the shop and the race weekends. Put in the time and it will pay off.
 

Live Free or Die

Well-Known Member
Being from New Hampshire desert racing was never in my life till I joined the Marine Corps. We deployed to Kuwait then Iraq and that's when I fell in love with the dessert....off-roading in Humvee's and LAR's all over the Middle East till we got to Baghdad was an epic experience. Not until I joined up with Victor Herrera and started racing in Baja did anything really come close to that experience. I'm a little old school and began in the 5/1600's and got my first race as a copilot in Ernie Negrete's car at a 5/1600 shootout in Ensenada, there were like 30 cars...I was sold after that. I raced with Victor and put my copilot time in learning...finally got my 5/1600 going this year and will clinch my first Championship at RATR. Racing is kinda like combat...you could hit an IED at any moment you could be ambushed our attacked from behind any moment and it's a thin line between winning and losing so you better be locked and loaded at all times...things Marines know well. It's been good therapy for my PTSD which I don't discuss much and I enjoy the meeting other vets who I guess found the same thing I found. It a labor of love and the feeling after after a we won the 500 in class 7 is why I'm hooked for life. I'm a straight up junkie now any class, anywhere, anytime...prep to win.


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B. R C Arrow

Well-Known Member
My name is Brandon Arciero and here's my story,
I was born into a racing family, I'm the youngest of the Arciero family involved in racing, my father, uncles and cousin Ryan all have been racing for as long as I could remember. The first race I attended and acquired the love of the smell of race gas was when my dad raced an oddesye when I was 16 weeks old. Racing didn't start for me in my pre, early teen years as I played baseball hardcore for 13 years in hopes of securing a college scholarship. During my younger years off road racing didn't really have a stepping stone series such as the trophy karts. In 1999 I told my father I wanted to go racing and to race the Baja 2000 (millennium race) and he told me to go try and find sponsors. I busted my butt and asked everyone and anyone for sponsorship and due to a pretty good economy at that time and being involved in the construction industry I was very lucky to secure 25k. But turns out that was somewhat the easy part. Now it was on to taking my father's old funco class 10 single seat car that had been sitting in there garage for 7+ years and resurrect it with out blowing my whole budget in the meantime. I used a lot of my father's old parts mixed with new parts to get the car all together as a class 12 car. I assembled a volunteer race team full of family and friends and set off to Mexico. I was driver of record and drew 1201 and was first off the line. Since my father had many miles of experience racing in Mexico, he started. I got in in Ojos and was off on my dream of racing. We made it all the way to cuidad constitution before having a bad miss in motor. We decided to load up and head to Cabo to celebrate my bday (Nov 17). After that race we sold the old 12 car and I went and raced circle track for 8 years. Due to this tough economy I can't secure any big financial backers so my speedtruck just sits, but my racing bug is still there and so I started a thread offering prep service in exchange for drive time. In response to that I got to race a 1600 car at the kc highlights snore race and the Rage at the river this past weekend. I am still searching for that prep for drive time opportunity to continue my racing career and build a name for myself such as my cousin Ryan did for himself with his hard work.
 

SJ073

Well-Known Member
I drove my first car off road in 1977 at age 4. It was my mom's 1965 Dodge Dart, a window was left open so I jumped in it and then I promptly smacked it into a tree. Some call it bad child or bad parenting but I call it initiative! :D I didn't get a chance to drive again for a long long time.. Did BMX and skateboard before I got a $300 Volkwagen bug in highschool. I drove it in high school and took it offroad in the woods near the house. I made a lot of trips to the junk yard to replace the dented rims and popped tires from off roading and trying to learn to drift on wet roads. This was the 80s and early 90s so drifting wasn't cool yet but was fun except when I spun out and popped a tire against the curb.

Drag and street racing were big in Dallas so that was my early influence. While I had heard of offroad racing, it was (and still kind of is) very much out of sight and out of mind in Texas at the time. I used to run my bug 105+ mph down IH75 trying to race my friend's 89 Mustang GT and my other buddies 70 Camaro. I never beat em but didn't stop me from trying. I later got a 4 year degree on the 7 year plan with a graduate degree in beer bongs. Spent 8 years in the Army reserve during the time too. I was a signal person and also took a light wheel vehicle mechanic correspondence course. I was a crap mechanic but had a basic understanding of it. :) Prior to finishing college I had worked almost 30 different jobs and owned one business. Finally got a real post college job in 1999 and saved a few bucks to buy my first V8 car.

I got a 1996 Impala SS in 99 and it was fast for me at the time. Didn't take long to get mixed up with folks headed to the drag strip. I went to watch but they said they had a class for me so I tried it and was hooked. Drag racing was a great rush even though I ran like a 15.5 in the 1/4 first time out. It was bracket racing so somehow I won a few rounds. I ran it for a few years and then traded the Impala for a used 2000 Corvette and drag and street raced the crap out of it. Went on to win or place in several bracket racing events in the Impala, Corvette, and even won 3rd place at an event in my Nissan pickup truck. I think it ran a 21 in the 1/4 which is dog slow but was consistent. As the car started to dip into the 12s and 11s in the 1/4, I still enjoyed drag racing but found it just didn't last long enough. I'd make a pass then have to wait a few hours to make another one... By 2000 I had started saving for a car that I could devote to drag or road racing. Pretty much just drag, street, and autocross raced until 2006.

In 06' a friend of mine and my pop decided to build a 5/1600 car and go run the Baja 250. (We didn't know this was probably not the best starter race) We ended up rebuilding a used 1/2 1600 car and merged with the Hooters bike team. I didn't know squat about offroad racing but knew how to run a mean ice chest. I was good with computers, radios, the GPS, and was a crap mechanic too. I got the opportunity to codrive the 16 car and had a blast. I ended up co-driving the Hooters 16 car in the 07' 250, 500, and 1000. In 08' I got to co-drive in the 500 and 1000. After running the 250 I sold an old 69 Firebird I had tucked and used some of the funds to run one of the Baja 1000s and bought a YZ250 with it. Rode the YZ for fun in the desert, mx tracks, in the woods, in my neighborhood when I could get away with it, and wadded it up lots of times. After 08' I had been mud soaked, dirty, silt ingested in my lungs, 2nd degree chemical burns on my rear, almost suffocated in the silt once, hit a rock so hard I saw stars, tired, stranded in the middle of nowhere with two broken torsion bars, learning that Yucca trees make crap torsion bar replacements but will get you down the road, 38 hour days, hit with rocks, hit with a trucker pee missle outside of Bay of LA, lost my eye sight for 4 hours, froze several times, beers, bad tacos, good tacos, roasting in my firesuit.......I was in heaven.. :D

In this time I got to meet the Iron Man, met the McMillins when Andy towed our VW prerunner out of El Alamo (The McMillins set a really good example of conduct in the desert and the importance of helping people out when you could. They wouldn't take money but the cost was paying it forward. :) ), met Coco several times, got to meet and speak with Jack Motley about some 1970s tales, and got to see how the big boys and girls threw down. It really influenced me and made me push harder in my career so maybe one day I too could play like the big dogs.

The Hooters 16 car was sold to some of the Hooters guys who kept racing the car in the Texas races in 2009. I got a chance to drive the 16 car in 5+ races and had a blast. Somewhere in there I resurrected the old prerunner bug we had and overhauled the motor in my garage. My neighbor was an airplane mechanic and helped me out when I hit a barrier the repair manual doesn't tell you about. I ran that for a little while and wanted a Class 10 car. The savings account I started in 2000 finally had enough change in it in 2011 so I went car shopping. I meant to get a class 10 but found a used Class 1 for Class 10 price. Had to ease into it because the jump from 1600 to Class 1 is a big jump and you can twist your day up quick. Have been running it in the Texas races when I have time and funds to get it prepped and have had a blast! I hope to get back down to Mexico again one day to race or do some south west races with my family and friends. I have met some of the coolest people from off road racing and while there is always one in any group that is happy to push you over a cliff to your doom; the majority of offroaders are some of the coolest and most genuine folks you will meet.

I don't do any street racing or high speed intercity travel anymore but will still sneak off to the drag strip every now and then but my one true motorsports passion is offroad racing.
 
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LRS1972

Well-Known Member
I've had dirt bikes, quads and buggies since my late teens. Started a new job in 1997 and the mechanic had a Class 12 car he raced in M.O.R.E. and SNORE. He lived in Lake LA and took me for a ride around his "back yard" course. I was hooked. Went to a few races and was even more hooked. In 1998 his friend had a Class 9 and was racing the San Felipe 250 and invited me along. Had a blast. In 2000 I took a new job that required traveling about 50% of the year. Off-road racing just wasn't in my schedule.

In 2007 my wife forced me to go to her coworkers wedding in Palm Springs. I only went because she said we could take our bikes and ride for the day prior to the wedding. At the wedding I struck up a conversation with a father and son, Don and Travis, who were friends of the groom. They saw my bikes in my truck so the conversation turned to riding, and racing. We knew some mutual people in racing. They had a single seat Chenowth and were prerunning a M.O.R.E. race the next day and invited us along. We followed them to Outlet Center Drive and tested the car, then jumped into their Buckshot X-5 to prerun the course. This was my first time in a true long travel car. Over the next year I'd run into Travis in town and we'd talk about going to a race sometime when their car was ready. I also started going to Don's house on Saturday's to work on whatever buggy or rail needed maintenance. I asked Don if I could bring two buddies around, both good friends also with a passion for anything that burns fuel. After a few months Don told us if we could commit to a season he'd consider buying a race ready Class 12 car. We are big guys so one of Don's friends talked him into getting a Class 1 car. Our first race was the M.O.R.E. Toys for Tots race in Dec 2008. We raced the entire 2009 M.O.R.E. season and took the championship. Those of us on the crew took turns in the right seat. In 2010 we stepped up to BITD and Don named me Crew Chief. I'm fortunate to have a job that gives me ample free time to spend at the race shop. In 2010 we took Rookie of the Year in BITD.

We have had a few guys come and go on our team but there is a core group of three of us that have been there from he beginning and we spend the most time in the co-drivers seat. None of us joined the team with the expectation of becoming a co-driver. We joined the team because of a love for racing. We never asked for a seat in the car. After dedication, long hours and a lot of hard work we were asked if we wanted to co-drive.
 

DustJunkie

Well-Known Member
My story isn't unlike most here. I grew up in Yucca Valley so off roading was a way of life. I often rode my RM 80 to elementary school, stashed it at a friends house and walked the rest of the way. I would get home from school and ride until it was dark, sometimes later. I did the Morongo Basin Search and Rescue poker runs for as long as I can remember. My parents believed in teaching me that hard work was a valuable skill and the only way there was for me to get ahead. I worked from the time I could hold a paint brush, hammer or shovel. I worked hard for everything I had. I built Baja bugs, rode bikes and built jeeps with money I earned doing yard work and painting.

I took a few years off to go to college on a football scholarship, still holding on to the work ethic my parents instilled in me at a young age. I earned accolades for playing football but always yearned to be in the desert. After college I continued to build jeeps and got into rock crawling and still rode bikes like I was 16. My first racing aspiration was in '02 or '03. I put a team together to race the Baja 500 on bikes. Late one evening during a practice session I had a hard get off and broke my clavicle, and compressed a few vertebrae. With two young sons, I thought it would be better to race something with a cage.

A buddy and I put a team together of 4 guys, set a buy in number and went to work building the first Jeepspeed Wrangler, with a goal to eventually race the Baja 1000. Not two weeks into the build one partner decided that he didn't want to be part of the team and quit. We built the car in 6 weeks leading up to the BITD Parker 425. We went about 30 miles and blew a head gasket. Not a great start, but we made the start line! We put the car back together and raced again in Barstow, finished 10th out of 27 and loved every minute of it. The second partner quit shortly after that. We got better and better that first year of racing and ended the season with a strong finish, winning the Henderson 400. The following year we started like we finished and won the Parker 425. After a year and a half of racing the third partner quit and it was all me. I scraped and pulled friends in to race when I needed extra money. We continued to win and partnered with others to pool our funds to win 3 Baja 1000's.

Lessons learned.....
1. Choose partners with more scrutiny than you choose your spouse.
2. The race car is the cheap part of racing. (Prep and racing is where the money goes.)
3. Work hard and never give up.
4. Have fun no matter what you are doing.
 
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