### RIP Gene DEMPSEY ###

JD Durfey

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I was hanging out at Borego Crossing during the 05 Baja 1000, when I met Gene. I had just ridden the "summit" and my buddy Eric Brown and I were hanging out watching the trophy trucks go by. Eric was going to ride Mike's and I was going to get back on the bike in Uruapan for the finish. There was this older guy just hanging out at the Honda pit, he was still in his riding gear. He was dusty and I could tell he had gotten off a bike, but he was all alone and just standing there watching what was going on. No one was talking to him, and he didn't say anything to anyone else, he just watched, and he was very attentive. For some reason, he kept attracting my attention.
So about an hour or so goes by, and Eric and I were both hungry so we decided to run up to Matais to grab a burrito. So I couldn't help but wonder if the lone rider needed a lift. So I asked the gentleman if he needed some help. He said that his teamates must have just forgoten he was going to be there. So I told him were were running up to Matais and if he wanted a lift we could fit him in the truck with us. He very gratefully agreed to go with us. So I cleared out some room in the back seat of my truck and we headed out. Once we were going I introduced myself and Eric to him. He sticks his hand up to the front and told me his name was Gene Dempsey. I just about drove off the road. I had heard over the years from some of my "old timer Baja friends" about these two "Dempsey Brothers" that were some of the toughest desert racers on the planet, and here was Gene riding in my truck, and I didn't even know who he was. It was a cool ride. He told us a few stories about the "good ole days" in Baja on that short drive. I wish it had been longer. We dropped him at Jim O'Neal's box van and wished him a good rest of the race.
It seems like every trip I made to Baja I ran into Gene, partly due to hanging out with the O'Neal crew some. I always looked forward to talking to Gene. He always had a few minutes to swap stories and always wanted to know how my trip was going. He always made me feel important and like he cared, even though I don't think I matter much. I am not a super fast racer. I am just an ordinary guy that likes Baja and dirt bikes.
I didn't know Gene very well, and even though my memories of him are very short, I know that he will be missed by all. Godspeed Gene, and I send my condolences to the family.
 

Chaplain

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Final Prayer

PS 121:1,2 I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth.

It was an honor to get to know Gene in his last weeks and to be asked to speak at his funeral, a celebration of a great man who had a full life and was loved by many. Thank you to the Dempsey family for opening your home and heart to me.

We all know Gene as a legend of Baja; described by his peers as bigger than life a man who could take on anything and would step up to any of life’s challenges. He was a true competitor that took on the Baja 1000 & 500 40+ times conquering it with his sheer grit, determination and strength. The bible says that God knows us so well that he knows the number of hairs we have on our head. God is the only one that could possibly know how many miles Gene logged in the desert and down in Baja. Anytime Gene could drag someone out to play in the desert he would, it was his passion and he wanted to share it. I was amazed when I heard after all the miles out in the desert on a bike he never once broke a bone riding.

I was able to pray for Gene a handful of times before races in Baja, but I can’t say I ever got to know him until recently when I was invited up to his house during his last days. There is no way to express the honor of getting to know this mountain of a man and his family at such a critical time in Gene’s life. Bonnie, Chuck thank you for inviting me to come up to the house it was a treat to hear story after story of Gene’s life. Many stories told of his great strength, work ethic, integrity and humor. One of my favorite stories that Tom shared was when they were kids their dad would have them hook their sleds to the bumper of the family car and then take them for a spin on the snow packed roads. Their dad would come in and tell the family “I’m going to the store who wants to hook-on?” Tom and Gene being bigger than the others generally were the only ones that would “hook on.” The thing about the ride was their father didn’t take it easy on them, he would try to dump them in the snow banks around each corner and if you fell off you were walking home. With excitement like that, it is no wonder Gene is known for his determination and spirit of adventure. Just going to the store as a kid was a test of his determination to hang-on to the thrill ride of a life. It was living on this edge of adventure where Gene wanted to spend his days.

That spirit of adventure and desire to live life to its fullest is what drew Gene to the Wild West of Baja. Where else can you get such a thrill than riding a motorcycle and conquering the whoops of the Baja desert? However, it wasn’t just the thrill of blasting through the desert and living life full-throttle that made Gene tick. It was his friends and his family that he held close to his heart. Not an adventure was worth living if he didn’t have his family and friends there to enjoy it with him. He was the kind of friend you wish you were; always there, always helping and never asking for anything in return.

At the staging lines before the starting line I got to pray for Gene and his race, but it was in his last days that I got to pray with Gene. Here was a man tough as nails but for the first time scared of what was around the corner in his life. Every trip up to his house I would pray with Gene that he would find salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. On one of my last trips, I asked him if he believed; and as I walked away he called out. I believe without a doubt that he was trying to tell me that he in fact did believe. He realized that he couldn’t do all things and that he needed help. I believe Gene surrendered to self and sought forgiveness and salvation.

It was my next and last visit with Gene that I’ll forever remember. We were all sitting around the living room watching racing on TV. I know imagine that. Gene was getting really worn out and wanted to go lie down. Chuck, Jason & Tom got him up out his easy chair and wheeled him into his room where they got him into bed. The whole time Gene didn’t say much of anything, fact is, it was hard for him to speak at all, but once they got him tucked in Gene looked up at us and said plain as day. “Not fast enough.” I told him we would all do some pre-running so we could be quicker next time. The spirit of racing, going faster and overcoming adversity was still with Gene.

When I went to pray with him that last time, Gene raised his hand for mine: The Lord impressed on me that there wasn’t a need to pray for Gene’s salvation anymore and that someday this man would be greeting me at the pearly gates with a mountain of a hug. Gene passed away later that week; I was up in Bakersfield at a drag race when a cousin of his from Idaho named Tom gave me a call. I’ve never met or talked to Tom before; he told me how he had been praying for Gene his whole life and was seeking God to give him an answer as to where Gene was. He said that God spoke to him that morning plain as day to let him know that Gene was with Him. I knew in my heart that Gene had made the decision to surrender all to Christ and Tom’s call was my confirmation that what I felt in my heart was true.

Jesus died on the cross for Gene and all of humanity, because we all are separated from God by our sin. But Christ didn’t just die he did one better; he rose again from the dead in three days just like he said he would. That is the truth Gene hooked-onto in his last days and that is the message he would want every one of us to grab onto if he could share with us now. Gene would simply say; I’m going home to my father in heaven who wants to “hook on.”

I know Gene has it wide open now and will forever.

God Speed Gene!
 

kim

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For those of you who have not read Chappy's message about Gene, please take the time to do so. Chappy is an amazing guy. We are so lucky to have him.

Gene - we are all going to miss you and your huge smile at the races.

Chuck and family - know that we are all praying for the entire family that you find peace in your loss.
 
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