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BAJA’S TWO-WHEEL HEROES SCORE’s Greatest Motorcycle Racers Of All Time Part III Bruce Ogilvie By SCORE Journal Staff Action photos Kris Pallesen/ Centerline Images and Mark Kiel   If you count the number of legendary and talented racers who emerged from the early years of Team Honda Racing, one could say that AMA Hall of Famer and multiple SCORE champion, Bruce Ogilvie, was the master of motorcycle desert racing who trained his students in this art. Oglivie’s Baja legendary status began as a rider, winning the 1975 SCORE Baja 500, followed by an overall win at the SCORE Baja 1000 that same year. It would be the beginning of many triumphant podium finishes and newfound successes on- and off-the-seat of a bike. Before his first win, he and his father Don were already racing in SCORE during the early ‘70s, always as a team. Some hint that this strong father-son bond was the chemistry to his “winning against-all-odds” attitude that would play out in later years. It wasn’t until the mid-‘80s that Ogilvie’s commitment to professional racing drew the attention of American Honda. He was tapped to take over as the motorcycle race manager for off-road competition. Although working as the factory team manager was only part of his job, his key role was to report back to Honda R&D on the technical prowess of the bikes being raced under extreme conditions and to one-up Kawasaki and Yamaha at every turn. Ogilvie’s first goal, as some suggested, was to improve Honda’s four-stroke off-road bikes by any means necessary. In ’85, Honda released the air-cooled XR600R under the watchful eye of Ogilvie, who was now in complete command of the factory off-road racing team. He saw its weaknesses immediately and ultimately re-introduced the XR600R in ’88. It was 20-pounds lighter, achieved by losing the dual carburetors and redesigning the entire chassis for racing. While Ogilvie and the team would win big with the newly improved XR600R, it wasn’t ideal for Baja’s brutal climate. Then at the end of the ‘90s, Ogilvie got his big break when Honda R&D took his advice and introduced the XR650R. Unlike the XR600R, this new liquid-cooled bike was built specifically for racing Baja to the dismay of Kawasaki’s Team Green. It was the start of Team Honda’s big winning streak at Baja. Eventually, Kawasaki pulled out of desert racing in Mexico altogether. Eleven-time SCORE Baja champion Johnny Campbell perhaps knew Oglivie better than most. Campbell spent 17 years racing for Ogilvie with Team Honda, eventually winning more SCORE championships than any other off-road desert motorcyclist. Campbell won his first SCORE Baja 500 with Ogilvie in 1997. “When Bruce grabbed a hold of me, I didn’t know how to put my raw talent into a good race program,” Campbell said. “He took me under his wing in ’92 and held my hand in off-road racing. He never had a big race team’s glamorous side, but it was all about winning. Bruce built those organizational skills into me and brought me to where I am now. He had such a solid plan of attack on the course. If he had been in the military he would have been a general.” While Ogilvie’s demeanor took some getting used to, he was a race tactician on the course. “He was a sharp guy on the bike, too,” Campbell said. “Some people didn’t get his demeanor because he was always thinking in-depth, and so if you saw no expression on his face, it was because he was thinking of ways to respond with a good strategy. Some people see similarities between him and myself. He was my mentor and I picked these things up from him. He would never go and seek gratification for himself. He was selfless for the amount of work he did for others. His confidence came from his experience and thought process. He was very self-blessed.” According to Campbell, Ogilvie loved to win and whenever defeat reared its ugly head in Baja, instead of getting angry, he leaned on his perseverance. “He was running pit crews of more than a hundred people, and those that were in his posse respected him a lot.”. Former teammate and SCORE Baja champion racer, Robby Bell, echoes Campbell’s sentiments about Ogilvie and emphasized that it was Bruce that allowed him to have a career in desert racing with Honda. “He had a lot of patience with me,” Bell said. “It was his quiet, understated confidence that I remember the most. When he said something he believed it and often lived it. That’s what I admired about Bruce. It was always matter-of-fact. He would always tell us we had the best riders and bikes and we tried to live up to his expectations. He always said to plan for the best, but prepare for the worse.” Throughout his long motorsports career, Ogilvie had raced with some of the best and continued racing well into his fifteys, winning the 2001 SCORE Baja 1000 in his class. He also rode with Roeseler, competing in the 1974 Barstow to Vegas race on Harley Davidson 100cc bikes. Ogilvie passed away on April 13th, 2009, but his methods were carried on by racers such as Campbell and Bell, and are still having an effect on current SCORE Baja racers such as Colton Udall, Mark Samuels, and many others. SJ

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