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Off-Road Hall Of Fame Inductees
Walter B. Lott Year Inducted: 2007

Walt Lott is an inductee in the Competition: Off-Road Racing category

Walt Lott’s contributions to off-road racing are varied and numerous, but probably the single, most important, contribution was his dream and successful effort to extend off-road racing beyond the regional level and gain “greater national recognition and corporate involvement” through sponsorships and, ultimately, television coverage. [Las Vegas Review Journal, July 1998] He was also instrumental in taking off-road racing from the recreational level to a professional sport by developing competition rules and different classes. Some of the classes have evolved over the years, but many have remained virtually unchanged since off-road racing humble beginnings in the late 60’s.

Walt began his off-road career by offering pit support for friends who were racing in Baja, then did some racing himself, including as copilot with his daughter Londa in the 1969 Mint 400 and eventually became an active organizer of off-road racing events. In the spring of 1967 Walt and his family trailered a sand rail to the dunes outside of Beatty, Nevada, with family friend, John Herda. That Saturday was the beginning of his interest and Walt’s enthusiasm spread to other men in his group of acquaintances. As interest in this hobby grew, so did the desire for competition. Twenty-seven “dirt enthusiasts”, including Lott, met at Herda’s Sawdust Saloon on July 15, 1969, [DirtSports Magazine, March 2006], and founded SNORE (Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts), which recently celebrated its 38th anniversary.

Walt served as president of SNORE in 1973 and 1975. He also served as the chief race steward and eventually organizer, for Del Webb’s ‘Mint 400 Desert Race’ (1971-1988), which grew into the richest, largest and most successful off-road race in the country. He was responsible for enforcing the rules, securing all the permits, laying out and marking the course, staffing volunteers and, of course, cleaning the course afterward.

Walt branched out to promote his own events, using different venues and different formats to promote the sport. There were lap races of varying distances, night racing and a 24-hour endurance race, all developed to give the racers new challenges in the sport. After creating the Oasis Racing Association (1972) in partnership with Pete Simon, owner of the Oasis Casino in Jean, Nevada and the Western Racing Association (1974) which would come to be known as Walt’s Racing Association, Lott founded the High Desert Racing Association (HDRA) in 1976. HDRA promoted a series of 5-6 desert races around the southwest and from 1981-1984 promoted the “Coor’s Off-Road Series”, featuring short course events in Southern Nevada, Mesquite (Texas), Colorado Springs, Phoenix, El Centro and Glen Helen (Devore, CA).

In 1985, Walt and Sal Fish worked out a deal to combine the HDRA series (4 events) with the SCORE International series (4 events) to create one major points championship series and one competition rulebook. The HDRA/SCORE Desert Series brought increased entries and sponsorships to both organizations and unified the sport of off-road racing into one major sanctioning body.

Walt’s quest for national recognition of the sport he loved became a reality two years before his death, as regular shows on ESPN. The satellite up linking of results after each event and the national syndication of off-road features, enabled off-road racing to find it’s way into living rooms in every corner of the country. 

Walt died on July 2, 1988 at Checkpoint #4 during the Fireworks 250 off-road race in Barstow California doing what he loved to do!

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