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Off-Road Hall Of Fame Inductees
Gilmon (Gil) George Year Inducted: 2007

Gil George is an inductee in the Pioneer: Industry category.

Gil George migrated to California in the 60ís from Michigan where he worked for General Motors in chassis and body fabrication. Gil was interested in drag racing and built some very fast cars for their time, setting a few records in his class. With his interest in racing he went to work for a small startup company in Ontario, California called Hooker Headers. With Gilís work ethic, innovation for manufacturing efficiency, and high energy level, he eventually became part owner of Hooker.

 During a trip with friends to the Pismo Dunes in 1967, George immediately became hooked on the off-road lifestyle, parked his Pro-Stock drag car and built his first dune buggy. Gil made a few frames, in his spare time, to try his hand at desert racing and was very successful. After a while a number of people expressed interest in buying his light single seat VW powered racecars.  

In early 1967, Gil sold his stake in Hooker and with his wife Geri, started FUNCO, a company specializing in the design and fabrication of tube framed buggies for off-road racing and recreation. Short for Fun Company, FUNCOís name was recognized as a leader in the sport almost from the beginning in the late 60ís. In 1968 he introduced the ďBandidoĒ, an affordable and functional chassis that anyone could build using all the parts from a VW. Designed primarily as a chassis for off-road recreational use, it was also a popular chassis in the rapidly growing sport of off-road racing. It quickly set the standard for safety in the construction of off-road race cars. Over the course of the next five years FUNCO built a chassis each day, thus making the Bandido one of the best selling buggies of all time and putting thousands of enthusiasts in the dunes and on the track.

Realizing that off-road racing was here to stay, in 1970 Gil introduced a new sleek, desert race car chassis known as the Super Single (SS1). Followed in the mid 70ís by the redesigned SS2, the FUNCO desert chassis dominated in the desert and became the choice of many top builders and racers. The list of names that once piloted a FUNCO reads like a whoís who of desert racing. Names like Sandmaster /Bobby Ferro, Gene Hirst, Johnny Johnson, The Mears Gang, Scott McKenzie, Larry Ragland, Larry Roeseler, Malcolm Smith, Ivan Stewart and Cal Wells helped Gil George and FUNCO earn the SCORE Chassis Manufacturer of the Year Award five times during the seventies. 

When Mickey Thompson took off-road racing into stadiums, George was a strong presence. Realizing the advantage of having shorter, lighter and quicker cars, he developed purpose-built stadium cars. The winning tradition carried on in stadium racing with drivers like Rick Mears, the Gilman Brothers., Frank and Albert Arciero, Marty Tripes, and Tracy Valentaís race team. Gilís oldest son, Grant George, drove his cars in competition and is tied for the most main event wins in the MTEG Series. 

In the early nineties Gil & Geri George had come full circle. With small grandchildren the family decided it was time to play in the dunes again and it didnít take long for Georgeís creative juices to start flowing. Recognizing that riding in the dunes was a big family sport, Gil blew the market wide open when he introduced the Big 5. With five full seats, long travel suspension, and its easy access, the Big 5 provided mini van convenience with all the safety and handling that Gilís racing background could provide. 

Today, FUNCO Motorsports is alive and thriving. A true family business, there are three generations of the George family in the shop everyday working with Gil on what has become the entire familyís passion. The quality and innovation FUNCO has consistently produced over the past 40 years show that Gil George was more than a manufacturer and fabricator, but was a true pioneer of new ideas and technology for off-road motorsports.

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