Most school graduations may have passed, but the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHOF) has announced the Class of 2017. For the first time in the 40 years of ORMHOF two new inductees will join family members who have already been inducted.
The Class of 2017 includes motorcycle racing pioneer Dave Ekins, who will join his brother Bud Ekins in the Hall of Fame. Crandon International Off-Road Raceway founder Cliff Flannery will also be inducted this year, joining his brother Jack Flannery in the Hall of Fame. Also being honored with membership in the Hall of Fame this year is desert racing legend Bob Gordon, and off-road innovator Bill Savage.
Dave Ekins and his riding partner, Bill Robertson, were the first to establish a timed and documented record from Tijuana to La Paz on a motorcycle. It was March of 1962 when the duo set the record that became the precursor to the race that would become the Mexican 1000 and today’s Baja 1000.
One of Dave’s many accomplishments is being the first motorcycle rider ever sponsored by American Honda. In 1961, he was among the first group of Honda representatives to travel to Japan. In 1988, Dave was honored at the 50 years American Honda event in New York.
In 1967, Dave began a 10-year career as a motorcycle magazine editor, when he accepted a position with Cycle Magazine. Dave also worked at Modern Cycle, launching Dirt Rider, one of the first off-road motorcycle magazines, and later working at Motorcyclist magazine.
Dave is also an innovator. In the 1970s, he developed the first kidney belt to feature a Velcro-fastener. In another business venture, Dave founded Sunline, a motorcycle aftermarket parts company.
They call it the dirt ‘Field of Dreams’, 400 acres of off-road nirvana in Crandon, Wisconsin. Crandon plays host to hometown races as well as some of the largest televised short course events in the world.
The dream of Crandon Raceway was born in 1968, after a group that would become known as the Wolfs Head Sportsman Club watched a broadcast of the Mexican 1000 on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The group decided to hold their own race through the woods around the tiny Northwoods Wisconsin town of Crandon. The track was originally a 101-mile race consisting of four 25-mile loops and a big mud pit.
While creating and managing a facility like Crandon is certainly a Hall of Fame worthy achievement, it was Cliff Flannery’s philanthropic work that made the biggest impact on the voting committee. Each year, Crandon donates nearly $70,000 to support local youth and charity organizations, a tradition started by Cliff Flannery decades ago.
Bob was introduced to the sport of off-road racing by Frank ‘Scoop’ Vessels, also a Hall of Fame Inductee. Bob Gordon quickly found success behind the wheel of one of the “BFG Blazers” as part of a two car team sponsored by BFGoodrich.
A statement from the Gordon family reads, “The Gordon Family would like to thank everyone for making this possible for our father, ‘Baja Bob’ Gordon to be inducted into the Off-Road Hall of Fame. He would be humbled and honored to be recognized alongside racing legends and friends; Scoop Vessels, Malcolm Smith, Parnelli Jones, Mickey Thompson, Walker Evans, and Ivan Stewart. Desert racing and Baja have become an integral part of our lives. Baja will never be the same without him, but his legacy and spirit will race on. We know he will be with us at every race mile marker along the way.”
Bill Savage opened TMAG welding in 1972. After spectating the Baja 1000 in 1974, Bill was hooked. It took him several years, between finishing college and managing his busy shop, before his first car was ready to race. Bill entered the 1979 Baja 1000, winning his class.
Throughout his career as an off-road innovator, Bill has always circled back to his interest in keeping the racers safe. He has written the rule books for every major off-road association for the past 37 years.
Bill Savage’s off-road career has, at times, truly been out of this world. Bill helped design and build this Rover prototype for NASA.
Bill has spent countless hours organizing teams to manage pre- and post-tech race inspections, a thankless and controversial job to say the least. Bill continues his quest to keep the racers safe in his current position as Technical Director for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.
The Class of 2017 will be inducted at the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame 2017 Induction & Awards Ceremony, presented by SCORE International, on Monday, October 30 at the South Point in Las Vegas.