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Off-Road Hall Of Fame Inductees
Frank “Scoop” Vessels Year Inducted: 2007

Frank Vessels is an inductee in the Competition: Off-Road Racing category

Frank “Scoop” Vessels made a huge impact on off-road racing during the first three decades of the sport. He was victorious in more than thirty races, including at least one win in every major off-road event, ultimately winning four championships over the course of a career which spanned some 32 years. In 1974, Scoop was named SCORE “Rookie of the Year” and in 1978 won SCORE International’s prestigious “Off-Roadsman of the Year” award. Although his many accomplishments as a driver over the years would merit induction on their own, driving was just a part of Scoop’s contribution to off-road motorsports. His true legacy will live on as a result of the business leadership and innovative ideas that he brought to off-road racing.

In 1988, he was one of the originators of the Competition Review Board (CRB), a panel of racers that are assembled after each race to mediate and resolve protests, which arise during the event. The Competition Review Board is still in effect today and is an integral part of the competition. In the mid-nineties Vessels joined with off-road racers Dick Landfield, Jimmy Smith and Jim Venable to develop, implement and later, compete in NASCAR’s Supertruck Series, now known as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Scoop has always been a great ambassador for the sport, bringing his business savvy and experience into the off-road racing arena. He has continually worked to help the sport develop a broader audience and to grow into the public mainstream. His 1980 ‘Baja 1000’ win, which was featured on ABC’s Wide World of Sports was a part of that effort, but there was more that he accomplished in other ways.

Frank “Scoop” Vessels was one of the first true “test pilots” of the sport, working with BFGoodrich to develop the first generation of the BFGoodrich Radial All-Terrain tire, which he introduced at the 1977 Baja 500, winning the race in his propane powered Ford F-150. This innovative development program improved the durability and safety of the tires that not only became the mainstay of the sport, but also resulted in technology that improved the quality of passenger vehicle tires as well. Along the way he helped BFGoodrich set the standard for sponsor involvement. Scoop represented BFGoodrich not only nationally but also globally, eventually working with them to partner with other firms to create alliances of racing technology.

This effort was critical in the development of new technology that would benefit those companies in their manufacturing processes. The ultimate result was to launch the sport into a much more desirable marketing position, soon enticing other companies to become involved in off-road racing. An example of such leadership was Vessel’s involvement in the “American Thunder” racing program in the late eighties, when he brought his long-time relationship with BFGoodrich into an alliance with Chevrolet and Mobil Oil. Not only did the resulting media machine represent his program on and off the track, but its success motivated other companies and drivers to model their off-road racing programs in similar fashion.

 Scoop retired from active participation in Off-Road Racing in 1996 to devote all of his efforts to the family business: Quarter Horse Racing. In 1951, his Grandfather, Frank Vessels, Sr. built Los Alamitos Racetrack, the first Quarter Horse racetrack in California, which became one of the finest facilities for Quarter Horse racing in the county. His father, Frank Vessels, Jr., who introduced Scoop to Off-Road Racing, bred some of the greatest horses in Quarter Horse Racing history on a relatively small farm near the racetrack in Los Alamitos. In the early eighties, Scoop moved the breeding operation to the Vessels Stallion Farm, a 2000-acre facility in Northern San Diego County, which today is one of the premier horse-breeding farms anywhere in the country for both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds. Scoop is the past president of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and the current president of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association (CTBA).

Clearly, Scoop is at home in any form of racing and we are pleased to welcome him into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

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