Ted Nugent Was An Off-Road Racer

Ted Nugent Was An Off-Road RacerS

You probably know Ted Nugent is a famous rock n’ roller/redneck Jesus lookalike, but it wasn’t until this 34-year-old photo popped up on my screen that I realized he also threw down in professional off-road truck racing.

Photographer Randy Rasmussen captured the rock star with what he identified as a “state of the art, heavy duty four-wheel drive” in July 1980, just before a Los Angeles-area desert race.

That truck would be a second-generation K5 Chevy Blazer with some big ass tires and a side-exit exhaust. Here’s the whole image, which I couldn’t put first because portrait mode. Anybody know what race he might have been heading to with it?

Ted Nugent Was An Off-Road RacerS

Nugent also owned a 3-speed 302 1972 Ford Bronco as well, which he told he took off-roading in Colorado with HD Bilstein shocks, a limited-slip rear, Warn winch and stock tires.

I can’t seem to find much on how successful Nugent’s competitive endeavors actually were, but he told Thomas Neumann of ESPN Magazine in an interview that he raced professionally for “probably a dozen years,” having been taken under the wing of off-road racing legends Mickey Thompson, Parnelli Jones, and Bill Stroppe.

Nugent elaborated when asked about his “craziest off-road experience:”

“I was already a follower of Bill Stroppe, Parnelli Jones and Mickey Thompson by the time I swan-dived into the world of off-road racing. It seemed to go really good with my music. I mean, “Motor City Madhouse” certainly isn’t a Sunday drive kind of song, unless that includes suspension-destroying, blistering heat and high speed where 50 percent of your race is in the air. So that kind of intense, outrageous, dangerous driving has always turned me on.

But I remember my first professional encounter driving with the Tracy Valenta team, under the guidance of Mickey and Bill and Parnelli. They actually walked the Barstow 350 course with me up there in the California desert. I did the prerun and checked out the terrain, which they warned me would be changing as every vehicle passed and altered the berms, dips, bumps and hills. I remember I actually put the pedal to the metal — which I’m really good at; I’m really good at flooring vehicles. It’s what happens after you floor them that I had to learn.

But to my credit, if I may brag a moment, and I think I shall, I didn’t blow up. … The real master racers will tell you that to finish is quite a win unto itself. And I finished most of them, but that first one in late ’78 or early ’79, I finished in a Class 10 buggy, where after the first couple hours, there was no suspension for all practical applications. Everything was overheated, and I was overheated, and I’d been bludgeoned by the frame of the vehicle and the hits, the dives, and I did a couple of T-bones and I flipped and rolled it a couple of times. But I finished the damn race, which I thought was really good, and I wrote some great guitar licks that night because of the inspiration of the sheer velocity and mayhem. It was so uninhibited.”

I sincerely hope some of you have some amazing images and anecdotes about Ted Nugent’s off-road racing career, and will share them here in the comments.

Written by Lewis Shaw

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