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Roger Mears Budweiser Jeep J-10 Honcho ++ Restoration ++

Jeff Furrier

Well-Known Member
ADVERTISER
Soo…I’ve owned the Bud Honcho for a year and now finally have the time to kick off a build thread. I’ll do my best to answer all questions and keep it updated while I work my day job at UPR Racing Supply. I suspect this will actually consume less time than answering daily Rory Wards texts about when I'm going to start a build thread on the Honcho!

There will also be updates on our Facebook and Instagram pages, so after following this thread, follow the Save Bud project on social media:
Instagram SaveBud
Facebook SaveBud

Getting support for these projects isn’t easy, so by following @SaveBud on social media and participating in this thread really help show that’s there’s interest in vintage off road racing.

Here’s where this adventure started:

During the Mint 400 2015 Contingency, I was speaking to former Jeep racer Mike Randall at the UPR Trailer and asked him if he had or knew where there were any vintage off road race cars. The Randall Racing team was run out of Randall AMC in Mesa Arizona. I about fell out of our trailer when he mentioned he had the original Bud Honcho. Mike told me that he and his brother John acquired it from Larry Casey(who had acquired the whole Budweiser Team from Mike Moore in 1982) with help from BF Goodrich to race some HDRA short course events. The truck had been partially dissembled over the years according to Mike, but the truck was never modified since the Randalls last raced it in 1986. Mike gave me his number and I was to call him after the Mint, but it was still hard for me to believe this truck really still existed.

With the familiar AMC Firecracker Red paint and Budweiser sponsorship, Roger Mears drove the Walker Evans built Jeep Honcho to victory in most of the major races entered from 1979 through 1982. The races include multiple Riverside Off Road World Championships, the Baja 1000, Baja 500, the Mint 400 and the Parker 400. Jeep and Dodge battled in Class 3 and 4 for the top spot for 3 SCORE and HDRA seasons. Roger drove the wheels off the Jeep Honcho, and when it held together it was usually in front at the finish.

The Jeep Honcho was used in Budweiser and Jeep TV and print advertising in the late 70's and early 80's as well as in numerous other sponsors ad campaigns making it one of the most recognizable Jeeps of its era.

There is a ton of off road history captured under the layers of paint, rust and grease that I will do my best to expose during the build. I've contacted some of the original cast and they have been very helpful sorting out the history and will continue to do so. If you have stories, know any of the original team members or have any relevant information, please post it!

The goal is to have the truck completed by the spring of 2017 for the Mint 400 and the NORRA 1000.



1 Randall phone number image for story lr.jpg


A lead for a vintage car may sit on my desk for a while before I get the nerve to follow up, it’s like the girl in high school that you’re afraid to call because you know she’s going to turn you down. I honestly STILL didn’t think that there was any way possible that this truck could be sitting in Mesa Arizona(100 miles from my desk), the longer I waited, the longer the dream would last. I’ve done this many times and it usually ends in disappointment (just like HS!) Even though Mike Randall is a straight shooter and he obviously knows his Jeeps, I was still skeptical.

Once I finally called Mike and he told me where the truck was, it just so happened to be across the street from the Desert Rat Off Road Centers which I frequent on Broadway in Mesa.

1 honch randalls yard.jpg


I found the truck hidden in plain sight, took a bunch of pictures and headed back home to do some research in my 1000's of old magazines, race programs, images and notes to see if I could verify its lineage.

1 honcho plaque randalls yard 1.jpg
1 honcho plaque randalls yard.jpg

1 off road hincho interior.jpg


honchooff road lr.jpg



It didn’t take me long to find some compelling evidence that this was likely the original Budweiser Jeep truck. There is a feature article in the July 1979 Off Road Magazine that shows the same dash plaque that is still riveted to the dash of the sun beaten Honcho in Mesa. A phone call to Tim Casey to verify that the La Paz trucks were actually formerly the Budweiser trucks and that one of them was sold to the Randall’s had me convinced that truck needed to be saved.

As they say, "the rest is history" or in this case, "the restoration of history"!
 

Jeff Furrier

Well-Known Member
ADVERTISER
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Here's the original article as it raced for the first time. There were changes made over the few years it raced which has made figuring out the history a little challenging. This article has been a great bench mark for the build. The last page says the truck as a Class 3, but the number is 421. I'll got through the confusing evolution of Class 3 and 4 in a future post.
 

harleys dad

Well-Known Member
from what I remember the Honcho was mostly run in class 3 but was run in class 4 at Riverside. I remember when it first came out with the paint like in the Magazine but was painted all red for the most part if memorize serves me right. Hard to believe such a therobreed could go from like the pictures of the magazine to its current condition. Now I know what age has done to me lol cool b uild look forward to seeing it finished
 

Jeff Furrier

Well-Known Member
ADVERTISER
This truck ran class 3 and 4 at Riverside in 1979 and won both classes(they only changed numbers), 1980 and 1981 it ran class 3 and won both years..so it has 4 Riverside wins. In 1982 a second truck course specific truck was built and ran class 4 and won.

Correct, it only first race with the white accent as far as I can tell. Below is how most remember the truck.

honcho firebird.jpg
 

Rory

Crayola Killer
Glad to see Jeff FINALLY start the thread on this historic Jeep. I remember talking to him on the phone the day he went to look at it at Randall's yard. This thing is going to fly down the peninsula with that 4WD pulling it around those corners. Knowing how anal Jeff is this build is going to turn out absolutely gorgeous. 2017 is going to be here a lot sooner than we think, Jeff is going to have to put his nose to the grindstone.
 

TROPHYSEDAN

Well-Known Member
congrats on finding The Bud truck. looking forward to seeing it race again. the Mint 400 and NORRA wil be a blast to watch. some OLD AMC IRON hitting the dirt.
 

Jeff Furrier

Well-Known Member
ADVERTISER
This truck ran class 3 and 4 at Riverside in 1979 and won both classes(they only changed numbers), 1980 and 1981 it ran class 3 and won both years..so it has 4 Riverside wins. In 1982 a second truck course specific truck was built and ran class 4 and won.
Correction, the short course truck was built the summer of 1981, it's first race was the Sept 81 in Colorado at the Pike Peak Meadows short course.
 

Jeff Furrier

Well-Known Member
ADVERTISER
Here’s a brief history on the 3 trucks built, listen closely as it’s a bit confusing.

Truck 1: The first truck was built by Walker Evans for Texan Budweiser team Mike Moore, who owned the Budweiser Off Road racing team. The truck was completed in 1979 and its first race was the 1979 Mint 400. Truck one started out with the original “bottle cap “style roof visor until the 1980 Mexicali 250 when the truck rolled, the cab was then updated to the newer style without the “bottle cap” visor above the windshield that the 1980 newer Jeep J-10 trucks were equipped with.

Truck 2: The second truck was built in Mike Moore’s shop by Tom Strong and the Budweiser team to compete in short course races. Truck 2 was completed in September of 1981 and its first race was the Pikes Peak Meadows short course race. Truck 2 only competed in short course races in 1981 and 1982 which I believe were the 81 PP race and the 82 Riverside and Firebird Az races.

Truck 3: The third truck was built for desert racing and was updated to the newer more open class 4 rules that were implemented in their final form at the 1981 Baja 1000. Truck 3 was entered into the 1982 Mint 400 for points only, but never raced a complete lap. Mike Moore started the truck to get the points, but pulled in as soon as he took the green. Roger Mears couldn’t be at the race because of the rain delayed Michigan 500.

At the end of the 1982 season, all three of the trucks were sold to the Casey family that raced all three trucks from 1983 through the 1985 season with the family’s famous La Paz Party Mix colors. After the 85 season, the trucks were sold individually to new owners. Truck 1 was sold to Randall Racing, Truck 2 was sold to George Barnett and truck 3 was sold to Rock Bradford.

Truck 1 remained mostly intact in its original condition with Randall Racing until I bought it in 2015. Truck 3 was never raced and was reportedly (by Rocks son RDC @rearendjeep) sold again in the SE where it was crashed and burned by the new owners.

Most the confusion around these trucks surrounds Truck 2 which should be the truck that is currently racing Jeepspeed and formerly owned by Clive Skilton and T&J Off Road(no identifiable parts remain that I could see). As Truck 1 had the cab updated from the “Bottle Cap” style, it appears that Truck 2 has been backdated to the “Bottle cap” style”, which may be where some of the confusion comes from. Also to add to the confusion, there’s an Aug 1982 Hot Rod Magazine feature on the team where they show images of truck 2 at a short course race, but the story line is the Frontier 250 which is being raced by Truck 1. I dug pretty deep into the article as it didn’t make sense and confirmed my suspicion with Tom Strong the original crew chief.

There is no question that I have Truck 1, which has been verified by the previous owners and other historical documentation and images.

truck 2 with explanation 57.jpg
 

TROPHYSEDAN

Well-Known Member
thank you for clearing it up. i am looking for a stepside bed.
 

Jeff Furrier

Well-Known Member
ADVERTISER
thank you for clearing it up. i am looking for a stepside bed.
The only Bud Truck that was built with a step bed was Truck 3. There's some confusion on at what stage Truck 1 got a step bed. Tom Strong says Truck 1 was sold with a fleetside bed, but Tim Casey says they got it that way with a step bed. There was red paint under the maroon on Truck 1, but I cant verify when it was put on.

The bed was pretty wiped out when I got, only a single fender that wasn't in great shape. BJ's Off Road just started selling repop step fenders.
 

xracer33

Member
theres one other j-10 that hasnt been talked about it is the budweiser jeep prerunner , i built it at walkers before leaving with mike moore. it was built real close to the race trucks but had more interior , roll up windows, ac , door panels ,carpet , it was even used in parts of the commercials .. it is the only one that the roof never got changed as a bud truck ... maybe this is the one that clive had with the old roof .....
 
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