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Why Desert Racing ?

Klaus

Administrator
I was hanging out with some offroad friends over the weekend and we talked in length about the old days. I noticed everyone had their unique reason to participate on various levels of desert racing.

What was the motivating reason why you made a step towards off-road racing?

I’ll share mine under the assumptions you might do the same after reading my novela.

In the mid 1990’s I watched it for the first time on ESPN and watching it on a screen it was no different than any other motorsport to follow. It reminded me of European WRC that I was fortunate to spectate in person. Yes Group B. Dakar was always the alluring dream of adventure in foreign far away land. Watching SCORE on TV reminded me of those two.

Then the first two races I attended where Laughlin in 1995 (?) and then the Fireworks 250 shortly after. Clueless…just roaming around and taking in the sights. Trophy Trucks ruined me. It was fascinating to walk those 3 foot rollers that make the race course in Barstow. There are some spots where when standing in a ditch/hole you can barely see a person standing in the next one however those Trophy Trucks managed to drive through in excess of 90mph. Mind blown.

To me this was a technological impossibility and I think every other spectator around me felt the same way and that joined excitement is what did it for me. That vibration in the air and I am not talking about sound waves.

Of course the kid inside me just wanted to race one of them myself and have the more privileged POV. What makes it so special is that only a few have the resources and skills to actually go fast race after race.

I accepted my place on the sidelines but always looked for a way to basically drive a race car 24/7 in my fantasy mind.
Many people around me expressed the same…and that holds true today as well. Ask any spectator to drive a race car and they will light up with a big smile. Driver seat is the end goal for many of us.

From thereon out I attended many races and experienced good camaraderie on race day. Especially in Baja I felt mostly welcomed. Almost every race I attend in Baja there are people trackside camping out and many will invite a complete stranger like me assuming one brings a positive attitude. I also had my share of drama and sometimes I see my own shadows being the reason. Lessons learned.

Many years later nothing has changed.

tl:dr
I love the technology. I like good attitude people on race day.
 

green787

Well-Known Member
I grew up in Fallbrook...... I could have done drugs....
 

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J Prich

Well-Known Member
In 1978 my Dad bought a brand new Scout II from a dealership in Long Beach. He and his brothers had done a little dirt bike racing and a lot of camping, etc. He had also been stationed at Nellis in Las Vegas from 74-78 so he'd heard of the Mint but wasn't that familiar with it. He ended up getting in to an off road club with some friends and in early 1980 someone in the club mentioned the Mint. My Dad decided it was worth a trip out so along with some friends and 5 year old me we made the trip out to North Vegas and ended up camping off the race course at the north end of the dry lake just past where the course crosses Highway 93. We had a blast and it ended up becoming a bit of a tradition. For all but one or two years through the 80s we made the trip out from So Cal every year. We'd leave the South Bay on Thursday eve after my Dad got home from work and camp at Calico for the night, then get up Friday and drive out to Fremont St for tech. We'd hang out for a while and pick up a course map, then head out to find a spot to camp.

We camped and off roaded a lot but when I was a kid but Mint 400 trips were always my favorite. We did other races too, some Barstow races, Riverside, etc, but the Mint was always the most fun. One of my favorite parts as a kid was standing out next to the race course late in to the afternoon/evening while the limited class guys were 10+ hours in to the race, giving thumbs ups. Getting one back from racers was the coolest thing in the world to me. I also miss those days when spectators often became part of the action. Countless times a racer pulled up to our camp spot, sometimes really late in to the night...looking for a quart of oil, some duct tape, or a vise grip. Was always cool to me as a kid to feel like we were in there helping a racer get what they needed to stay in the fight. Also one of my favorite things...to this day...is the dust trail and sound of that first car/truck...hearing it roar across the desert, watching it get closer...the anticipation and excitement is still kind of like that for me now.

In the early 90s we started to get away from it a bit and when I left for the military in the mid 90s I was off doing other things and lost contact with the goings on in desert racing a bit. As luck would have it I ended up getting an assignment to Vegas in 2005 and I remember driving to work one day and hearing PAB doing a radio bit about the Mint being "back". I was so far removed that I had no idea that was even possible and I was so pumped that I got up that weekend and ran out to Pabco Rd to watch the race. It had been a good 15 years since I'd been to a desert race at that point but I was instantly hooked again. Probably around the same time I joined RDC actually...2008 ish? Anyway, a little over a year later I bought a Tacoma with a long travel kit so I could run around Jean and day dream...a little over a year after that I had to park it and move to the East Coast...got tagged for a boondoggle "deployment" that provided some extra income, and with a partner in tow decided to make a run at actually getting in the game...a good 35 years after that very first Mint.

I see a lot of people here often complain about how the "new" Mint is not the same as the "old" Mint and I understand their POVs, but for me being able to share some of what that was as I experienced it as a kid with my own children now...as a participant instead of just a spectator, has been amazing. Some of my best memories as a kid involve those family camping trips at races and it means a lot to me to be able to share those experiences with my own children and family now all these years later. Over the years we've met so many amazing people and built relationships with friends who I'd consider to be on par with family at this point and that's really important to me as well. Aside from all the stress and cost of racing, the drama of arguments in places like here, etc...the sense of community and family within what is a relatively tight knit group is something that I really value.

For me it's kind of funny how everything tied together and came full circle. I attended my first off road race, the Mint, as a kid in 1980. In 2014 I got to enter it as a participant and in 2015 I got to drive our race truck across the finish line for our first class win. The Scout that my Dad bought in 1978 that got us to all those races and was the catalyst for our introduction to the sport...is sitting in my drive way waiting for me to load up my family and get out in the desert. Funny how things work out.


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ACME

Well-Known Member
No family ties to any racing. I bought a 3 wheeler at 18, sold it and got married had a kid. Bought 2 cheap ones to ride and the kid got a quad at 1.5 yrs old. Bought a 200X and decided to try an ARA race...

Crashed bad at my 3rd B2V after being a D-37 ATV guy that had run some SCORE races. I had pitted for Brad/Rodney Inch and Tortoise Racing and had friends that new Larry R/Danny P and the La Victoria group so I thought I had a little clue. My wonderful wife agreed, so I bought the old Tortoise Racing challenger from Mike, Doug and Bob and Kent Lothringer was the local shop so we went down the rabbit hole.

I walked away from it for 5 yrs as I didn't have the funds and the kid was into sports and we did the boat thing. Kid got a job with Kent as the shop boy and I stopped in one day and saw the old gang. As we relived the same old stories he'd heard for 10 years, he taunted us with how he could do it. I took the bait and jumped back in with a little more resources than the first time and the whole family started. Ended up racing in Baja with friends...

Wife got into it when I found an 11 car in LV and built it for her under the guise of me and a friend racing it a few times for kicks. She went testing with me the day it was done and no one ever drove a mile in that car but her. She then decided she wanted to try racing in Baja...

I'm a lucky guy
 
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Fourstroker

Well-Known Member
Because its in my blood. Been in the desert since I was a newborn. Attended my first offroad race at Saddleback in late 1977when I was 6. My first desert race, the SNORE Shamrock 350 in early 78. Been hooked ever since.
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My pops started racing with the German Auto team later in 78 and continued with them until 87 when a back injury at the B1K forced him out. We kept in contact with the team, many other racing friends and attended races off and on through the 80's and a little less in the 90's while in college, starting a family, etc. By the end of the 90's I was back racing my bike in the AMA Grand Prix series and by 2002 we were back out at the local desert races. By 2003 I had weaseled my way back to a team, made lifetime friends and found myself a spot as a co-dog. I rode in so many different cars they called me the "Riding rental".
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After returning from racing and finishing the 2005 B1K, my brother and I bought our first car, a single seat Raceco out of Texas that ended up being Bob Shephard's old car.
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In 2007 we starting building a new class 12 and subsequently sold the Raceco. We raced that car 3-5 times a year in various series for a few years and called it quits with that car after the 2012 V2R.
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We were still at the races sporadically and I went back to racing my bike a couple of times a year (Parker, Hare and Hound and GP's). Been pitting with various TT teams over the last few years and that keeps me interested in whats really going on in desert racing.
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This year we pieced my dads Chenowth DR2 back together and did NORRA with it. What a blast. Did I mention I'm still hooked and get to the races as often as time allows. RDC since 2004.
 

baja_racer

Well-Known Member
Went to the 1980 Mint 400 (Purple year)............haven't looked back.
 

Lord Green

Well-Known Member
After traveling in Baja (turtle style) I went to the Mint in 1980 and got hooked. Took my six day old son to the 81 Fireworks 250 while i raced and he was hooked, now he owns ES Motorsports.
 

jon coleman

Well-Known Member
hmmmm, because i can rush home after watching first fud race and get out the sawz all , chop saw, buzz box , build & live the dream baby, cant do that after watching f one
 

DONALD MACE

Well-Known Member
My dad raced sports cars in the 50/60's then turned to off road in the early 70's. Remember going to Barstow in 74 , July Firecracker 250, and i fell in love and here it is 45 yrs later and still in love with it.
 

atvrcr88

Well-Known Member
My dad raced snore when they had bikes. Plus they ran check points for the mint400 for years. I raced bikes and raced the mini mint in 1975 and 1976. I raced quads in the Nevada 500. Helped friends pit there cars. So I have been around for over 45 years.
 

Frank13

Well-Known Member
My pops took me to my first race. I believe it was the last Snore night race in Eldorado Valley. We were hanging out in the pits when some dude (Lucas Hand) handed me a roll of duct tape, and told me to tape this guys foot to the throttle. Was hooked ever since. So grateful for the opportunities this awesome sport has offered, and the great friendships made.
 

IRONGOOK

Well-Known Member
My dad bought a little Suzuki trail hopper 55 when i was 7. It was over from that point on! Raced bikes, then quads, then class 11, then 7s and now the Jeepspeeds. Im 55 today and don't see quitting. Dust in my veins! Its my crack.
 

Bro_Gill

Well-Known Member
My dad had a fiberglass Dune Buggy from about 1969. I loved riding in that car. We went to Pismo, sand drags in Coalinga and King City. My dad had a friend that had a pretty wild Toyota Landcruiser with a blown big block Chevy and he won quite a few races. I remember the 'obstacle course' races as being very cool to me. Then we started riding 3 wheelers at Pismo and that started a who new adventure. Then I saw the movie 'Dirt' about 1976 at the drive-in movies and those Baja races looked like the greatest. I never stopped thinking about racing Baja in my dad's dune buggy. Little did I know. Anyway, eventually my friends and I were old enough to start going to races on our own and we made many races from Norcal and Oregon to Barstow, Parker, and Vegas. In high school I found a local off road race team and a fab shop that did off road race prep and fab and started sweeping floors there and going to the races with them. I got to drive a couple times with some of the cars and by the time I was 23, I had my own race car that I built. Have not stopped since. One way or another. I do blame the desert bug on the movie Dirt since I live no where near the desert and had only been track racing a 3 wheeler until high school.
 

M Lewis

Member
My dad loved motorcycles. We would drive past Sportsman Cycle everyday on the way to our shop in the early 80's. Badgered my pop about wanting the yellow bike until he couldn't take it anymore. Racing, spectating and volunteering since.
 

JDDurfey

Well-Known Member
I started riding bikes when I was 5 on the farm in the midwest. My dad loved to ride and he passed on that passion to us kids. We never raced though. I moved to AZ in '97 and did a little MX, but was not very good at it. I enjoyed riding in the desert much better. I was invited to the Baja 2000 and helped a group of guys finish the race and I've been hooked ever since. I raced numerous SCORE races, H&H, and Whiplash races in AZ and Rocky Point Mexico.

I moved to Texas in '08 and and have not been to any west coast races since, however, my passion is still there. I have spectated and co-driven a few races out here. I will probably be at V2R helping the SpeedLee team this year and can't wait.
 

Crusty Shellback

Well-Known Member
Got a divorce from my first wife in 1990 while in the navy stationed in San Diego. Hooked up with my cousin ( original Baja Fool) who took me down for the Baja 1000 to help pit some bikes. That started it. Cousin was also El Jefe of the Los Ancianos at the time. Him and his Buddy Bozo put me on an old Husky 430 and took me riding in Baja on a ride from hell. Fell in love with it and started riding just about every weekend I could get away from the Ship.
Spent about 7 years running with both clubs. Did a lot of pitting for Kawasaki with the Baja Fools and a lot of riding with the Los Ancianos and helping them cut trails for the Tecate enduro.
Life happens, got married again and had kids and moved north a little. For the 25th anniversary of Kawasaki winning, they thru a big party. Some of the OG Fools invited me to meet them there, so I did. They asked me to come back and help again for the 2013 Baja 1000 supporting Rob Mac. I came home with the biggest grin my wife said she had seen in a long time. She told me to go as I did all of that before I had met her. She's a keeper. At the time, I hadn't been keeping up with Baja much, mostly just supercross, so I had to research and see who Rob Mac was. Boy did I get an awakening. So I went, had a blast, and been doing it since, every chance I get.
 

cynicwanderer

Well-Known Member
oh, the usual... rode and raced bikes when I was a kid, then tried adulting with wife/kids, eventually got a divorce, remarried to someone who understood, got back into riding/racing hare scramble->enduros->desert racing. still race motos, because I can't afford to race anything else. as far as I can tell, getting kids motos is like a gateway drug and eventually leads you to desert racing, which is like full on cracked cocaine, when properly enabled. I remember looking at racing/motorcycle magazine when I was in school at the convenience store where one of my friends worked night shift (there wasn't much to do in our tow), covering all of the classic desert races, and have always wanted to do that.
 

IRONGOOK

Well-Known Member
oh, the usual... rode and raced bikes when I was a kid, then tried adulting with wife/kids, eventually got a divorce, remarried to someone who understood, got back into riding/racing hare scramble->enduros->desert racing. still race motos, because I can't afford to race anything else. as far as I can tell, getting kids motos is like a gateway drug and eventually leads you to desert racing, which is like full on cracked cocaine, when properly enabled. I remember looking at racing/motorcycle magazine when I was in school at the convenience store where one of my friends worked night shift (there wasn't much to do in our tow), covering all of the classic desert races, and have always wanted to do that.
I hear you, I told my second wife she wouldn't be if she had a problem with me racing. Gotta love her, shes still supportive. Question: how much is a $500 helmet? Answer $1000 if your married, $500 for the hemet and $500 for her shoes and dress LOL :p
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
The judge gave me a choice, either prison or become a desert racer. Only problem is that my parents were married to each other but so far none of the race orgs have bothered to check.
 
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