During the annual SEMA Show, the off-road community comes together to celebrate another milestone while out in Las Vegas – the induction of new members into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. This year, the ceremony was held Monday evening at the South Point Hotel & Casino, kicking off yet another amazing SEMA week for the off-road race scene and setting another awesome week of SEMA in motion.
Photos & Words: Lindsey Fisher
With five “Class of 2015” inductees to be honored, as well as a number of Rising Star Award winners and a special “Never Give Up Award” recipient to be named, the evening of off-road greatness started out with a formal cocktail party and silent auction before dinner was served to over a dozen Hall of Fame members, their families, sponsors and supporters. Cameron Steele of Desert Assassins kicked off the official induction ceremony as the Master of Ceremonies, followed by Chair of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, Mark McMillin, introducing and honoring current Hall of Fame members that were at the ceremony to witness the induction of the Class of 2015.
After the current Hall-of-Famers had been introduced, the Rising Star Award winners, a new honor introduced in 2015, were announced. In order to be eligible for a Rising Star Award, nominees have to be an up-and-coming star in the off-road industry who have made an impact in the off-road community either through racing, advocacy or adding to the off-road industry itself. The award winners for 2015 were as follows. Off-road Racing – Bryce Menzies; Short Course – RJ Anderson; Rock Crawling – Wayland Campbell; Motorcycle/ATV/UTV – Beau Baron; Industry – Nate Hunt; and Advocate – Desiree Bates.
Following the Rising Star Award presentation, a tribute to fallen inductees was held, with a slideshow showcasing each fallen individual and a list of their accomplishments in the industry. Once the Rising Stars had been named and the fallen Hall of Fame members honored, the Class of 2015 Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees were honored. Each inductee was introduced separately with stories of their off-road industry accomplishments, after which each individual gave an acceptance speech and posed for pictures with their awards.
To be inducted into the Hall of Fame, nominees must have at least 15 years of experience or involvement in the off-road industry, be characterized by “their desire to win, the mastery of their field and their courage to innovate,” and to have made a significant contribution to the sport in “business, history, design, engineering, prestige of the sport or growth of the sport.” This year’s inductees certainly possessed all of these amazing characteristics and more!
Inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame for 2015 were builder, off-road racing and rock crawling legend, two-time King of the Hammers champion, and member of the most recent winning team of the SCORE International Baja 1000, Shannon Campbell; award-winning and highly-acclaimed photojournalist Chris Collard; sportsman, competitor, patron, sponsor and advocate, Michael Gaughan; racing legend, innovator, and competitor in all areas of the off-road world from racing in Short Course to King of the Hammers, Curt LeDuc (who proposed to his girlfriend during his acceptance speech); and racer, fabrication guru, builder and Baja 1000 winner, Jerry Penhall.
After each new inductee was honored, the ceremony finished off with the announcement of the Louis Unser “Never Give Up” Award recipient, which is awarded to someone who “demonstrates the pursuit of excellence in the face of adversity” in the off-road industry. The award, which was introduced just this year went to none other than off-road legend Rod Hall, who appeared both baffled and proud such an honor had been bestowed upon him.
Congratulations goes out to all of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees, as well as all the Rising Star Award winners and Rod Hall for being named the first recipient of the Louis Unser “Never Give Up” Award – we’re looking forward to seeing who takes the podium this year!