Bob Ham, CORVA pioneer and state legislative lobbyist on Episode 163


We don’t tend to think of influencers in the octogenarian stage, but Bob Ham certainly qualifies. Bob spent his career influencing people where it mattered, in land use advocacy in the California State Legislature. From forming CORVA to being on the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Board of Directors, Bob knows how to get things done and impact others. A 2006 inductee into ORMHOF, Bob Ham is why we say; legends live at  Be sure to tune in on your favorite podcast app.


3:50 – I started picking up Spanish and really getting engaged with the culture down there

8:43 – I probably went to virtually every Baja 1000 since the ’69 event

12:06 – we formed CORVA in 1971 and got involved writing bills

23:27 – there ought to be a law that allows green stickered vehicles to connect a trail – we got it, Assembly Bill 1201

32:13– most lobbyists come in just the way I did, as former legislative staffers

42:45 – it’s not the offroad Racing hall of fame, it’s the offroad hall of fame

Special thanks to for support and sponsorship of this podcast.


[00:01:15.670] – Big Rich Klein

On today’s conversations with Big Rich, I talk with Bob Ham. Bob is a 2006 inductee into the offroad motorsports hall of fame.

[00:01:24.570] – Big Rich Klein

As a pioneer advocate category, Bob started off offroading in the mid 60s with a trip to Baja. From Baja to sand, to Broncos to sandrails, a founder of Corva, Bob has fought the good fight to save offroading. Bob, thank you very much for coming on board and discussing your life with us.

[00:01:45.920] – Bob Ham

No problem.

[00:01:47.240] – Big Rich Klein

All right. My first question for you is going to be my standard one is, where were you born and raised?

[00:01:52.780] – Bob Ham

Well, I was born during World War II in a place called Gallup Ellis, Ohio, but moved all around for the first 10 years of my life. My father was in charge of munitions plants. He was a Harvard trained chemist. And so instead of being drafted, he was drafted to take over the conversion of a bunch of factories that they had then. So we moved all over the Midwest while he managed what they referred to as Japanese sleeping powder in those days, which is basically pumps. Right. I grew up mostly in Northern New Jersey and Teaneck, New Jersey, and later Hillsdale. Went to high school and also moved back and forth. So I actually graduated from San Marino High School near Pasadena. That’s my education and where I got started. And once I was in California, that’s when I started going up to places like Jawbone Canyon with my old Buick, and we’d go chasing around the dirt roads. And I liked that. And that’s what eventually got me down to Baja in better vehicles.

[00:03:24.180] – Big Rich Klein

Right. And while you were in college, you were in San Diego State, is that correct?

[00:03:29.900] – Bob Ham

Yes, I went to San Diego State. And of course, that was just a short hop in those days down to Tijuana and then Ensenada.

[00:03:42.450] – Big Rich Klein

And is that where you really fell in love with the wilds, you might say, offroading?

[00:03:50.630] – Bob Ham

Yeah, that got me hooked. There were very, very few paved roads in Baja. Once you left Tijuana, it was just dirt roads all over the place. They took you to interesting spots. I started picking up Spanish and really getting engaged with the culture down there and the food.

[00:04:15.410] – Big Rich Klein

Now, the people and the food down there are just fantastic. And it’s still, even to this day, still like the Wild West. It’s not as civilized, or I should say, developed as the United States.

[00:04:33.000] – Bob Ham

It isn’t as the United States, but it certainly is a heck of a lot more developed than when I used to go down there. The major roads between cities were a bit of a challenge to get from one place to another. Of course, now it’s all paved for the most part. A little sad for me, but that’s what happens.

[00:05:00.650] – Big Rich Klein

Progress, they call it.

[00:05:02.560] – Bob Ham


[00:05:04.450] – Big Rich Klein

Let’s talk about those early days when you went down to Baja. Were you fishing? Were you in the surfing scene, or were you guys just hanging out?

[00:05:15.770] – Bob Ham

Just hanging out. We’d find different things to do, different places to go. Most every good cantina from Rosarito to probably 100 miles past Ensenada.

[00:05:33.230] – Big Rich Klein

Nice. I would imagine they were a little different then because they weren’t touristy.

[00:05:40.600] – Bob Ham

That’s correct. You had to speak a little bit of Spanish, at least, just to get along because unlike today, where there’s English spoken in almost every establishment that caters to Americans, when we were going to some of these places, they really hadn’t seen or had many customers from the United States. We were a curiosity, just as much as they might have been to us.  READ MORE


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