San Felipe, B.C. Mexico - February 27, 2004: It seemed a typical beginning to the Checker Clambake, held annually prior to the San Felipe 250 at Tony Tellier's winter villa located in Pete's Camp, just north of town. Mark Naugle and his band of ...
San Felipe, B.C. Mexico - February 27, 2004: It seemed a typical beginning to the Checker Clambake, held annually prior to the San Felipe 250 at Tony Tellier's winter villa located in Pete's Camp, just north of town. Mark Naugle and his band of Locos Mocos merrymen, winners of the 2003 VVE award, had arrived early to set up their huge Bar-B-Que, built just for the occasion and tubs full of your favorite iced cold beer were place strategically about the area. The yard was filled by Checkers with every level of seniority, as this has come to be one of the most popular club events of the year. Although it is not uncommon to see some non-Checker members in the crowd, this year brought quite a few fresh faces to the clambake since the highlight of the evening's entertainment was sched- uled to be the awarding of the Vic Van Ella Trophy, one of the most prestigious awards in off-road racing.
Vic Van Ella was a Checker, who had just purchased a new Class 2 Raceco back in 1985. At an HDRA event, shortly after taking delivery of the rocket, Vic found himself running for the lead with one of his sons in the second seat. While charging across a dry lake at wide open throttle, about midway into the race, he suffered a massive heart attack which instantly took his life at well over 100 M.P.H. Al- though his son was able to guide the buggy safely to an upright stop, there was nothing to be done for Vic. In retrospect, Vic had to be very surprised to start a race in Las Vegas only to take the checkered flag on the "other side". After the event, the Checker's "Uncle" Max Norris, had a discussion with HDRA's Walt Lott about doing something to commemorate Van Ella's supreme sacrifice to our sport. After giving the matter some thought, Lott offered to donate an impressive perennial trophy to the cause if the Checkers would award it yearly to an organization or individual who "had made a significant contribution to the sport over the years". Since 1986 the Checkers have been giving out the Vic Van Ella Trophy to such off-road luminaries as Jean Calvin, Ed Pearlman and even our own, Jeff Hibbard, AKA: The Big Wahzoo, among others. This year's Award was long overdue and went to one of the most respected and dedicated champions of the sport of off-road racing, Otis "Fud" Fudpucker,
Fud at the "office" known to his friends simply as "Fud". Fud passed away suddenly last October at the youthful age of 59.
Fud was a racer and promoter totally dedicated to the sport of off-road racing. Since 1984 he almost single- handedly put on the Superstition Championship Series near Plaster City in the desert east of San Diego. He also put on races in Tecate, BC and was given the prestigious "Amigos de Baja" award in 1999 by the Governor of Baja California, Norte. Since the early 80's he staged the AMA District 38 races for Motorcycles and ATV's and successfully merged the dis- trict events into his Superstition Championship Series in 1985 under his `Fudpucker Racing Team' banner. Fud held off-road races at the fairgrounds in Imperial Valley and promoted a variety of other events too numerous to mention. It was not uncom- mon for Fud to put on over 30 races each year assisted only by a small group of friends. Everyone that knew Fud, liked him and to Fud, the racers were his family. He had no ambitions to upstage other promoters but was content to learn from them and make his events safer and more enjoyable for those that competed in his races.
There can be no more deserving recipient of the Vic Van Ella Award than Otis "Fud" Fudpucker. For the benefit of his many friends in the San Diego area, the Trophy will be on display at Off-Road Warehouse (ORW) for the first half the year and at Race Ready Products for the second half.
Fud and I were close friends for almost 20 years. I think of him often but I know he'll have the course laid out and ready to pre-run when I get there...
- grt -