|John Calvin, was a huge proponent of off-road racing and the 44th annual John Calvin SNORE 250 Saturday in Jean has been named in his memory. Photo courtesy of Trackside.
By Mike Henle
To most auto racing journalists, off-road racing would have to be considered one of the toughest assignments. Considering the logistical challenges along with the fact that the sport is based on individual times, the sport is unique.
However, to the late John Calvin who died at the age of 81 July 29, off-road was the best assignment of all for the man who racked up thousands of miles covering events in Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico.
Thus, the John Calvin Memorial SNORE 250 scheduled Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. in Jean, Nev. has aptly been named in honor of the man.
Calvin didn’t just attend off road races. His love of the sport and the field of journalism combined to make him a huge part of the off-road industry. He could commonly be seen giving out copies of Dusty Times at tech inspections throughout the Southwest; and when the green flag dropped to start a race, you could be sure that he would be near the start-finish line getting quotes for the next edition of Dusty Times.
Racers, their friends and every pit crew member within many miles knew that Dusty Times was the Bible of off-road racing. Until only recently, the newspaper was published monthly before finally going on-line at www.dustytimes.net.
Journalism and off-road racing were definitely in the man’s blood. A quiet gentleman who wasn’t one to talk about his own personal successes in various arenas, Calvin worked day-in and day-out doing what he loved – following off-road racing and the people who make the sport so wildly-popular.
When Jean died more than a decade ago, John Calvin carried on in spite of the fact that he had just lost his best friend.
“He was always happy to be in the shadows,” said his wife, Pat, “except when he was story telling. He was always extremely proud of Jean and all of her accomplishments.
“In fact, John raced cars about 50 years ago,” Pat added. “Many people didn’t realize that John was multi-talented.
“Dusty Times was Jean’s innovation and she was the one who nurtured it and made it what it is today.”
John carried on the legacy of the publication.
“He did so much for off-road racing,” said Bill Shapley, tech director for SNORE and an enthusiast of off-road racing since 1974. “Off-road racing simply does not get a lot of credit when it comes to the traditional media; and John filled a huge void. It is true that off-road racing requires a special kind of person and John was that person the sport needed.
“He was definitely passionate about off-road racing. He covered every major off-road racing sanctioning body and he didn’t play any favorites; he was good to all of us.”
Shapley said SNORE’s board of directors decided to name its oldest race after John Calvin not long after the man’s death.
“It was the fitting thing to do,” said Shapley adding that the race will draw about 100 entries from several states.
In fact, a flyover has been scheduled at the race with Calvin’s ashes being spread where Jean’s were spread several years ago. The plane will waggle its wings over the race course to pay tribute to SNORE and all of those attending.
Bekki Wikel has worked for Dusty Times since 1994.
“John was more than a boss,” Wikel said. “He was my neighbor and a friend of our family for 37 years.
“John took great pleasure in helping others. If it was in his power, he would assist his friends. He often talked (and bragged) about his off-road family like they were his children. They were all the best, the smartest, the fastest. I will forever miss his knack of story telling. His memory was like none other.”
Former Mint 400 Race Director KJ Howe said Calvin was as instrumental as anyone when popularizing the sport of off-road racing.
“His reportage of every race was a significant factor in gleaning publicity for drivers, sponsors and manufacturers,” Howe said. “Along with his late wife, Jean, an Off-Road Motorsports Hall Of Fame inductee, they seemed to be everywhere. Their presence was felt in every race of any significance throughout the years.”
Now in its 44th year, the SNORE 250 hosted by the Gold Strike Hotel and Casino will be staged behind Gold Strike about 30 miles south of Las Vegas.
Further information can be found by visiting www.snoreracing.net.