Episode 220 features Cal Wells, founder of PPI, legendary driver/owner in the racing world


Cal Wells III on Episode 220. Such a privilege to interview Cal Wells. We talk about all the racing, racing, racing that Cal has been a part of. Cal was inducted in the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2020. Cal is why we say; legends live at ORMHOF.org.  Be sure to tune in on your favorite podcast app.


5:13 – I could get from Westminster to downtown LA in 35 minutes, and now it takes 3 hours

10:43 – I rode up there, it was like going to heaven; here’s this line on both sides lined with red, white, and blue off-road vehicles

20:23 – my first trip to Baja…

29:07 – That was the first time we raced, we were running down the highway and the engine blew up

43:24 – And if I had a do-over, I would have done things very differently

48:00 – I’m going to go hire Ivan Stewart or Malcolm Smith

1:03:22 – We got the deal for 180 grand, and that first year, I spent 360

1:23:44 – Everything was our own, our own shocks, our own everything.

Special thanks to ORMHOF.org for support and sponsorship of this podcast.


[00:01:15.770] – Big Rich Klein

On this episode of Conversations with Big Rich, I’ll be speaking with a gentleman that has done more than most people have in off-road and beyond.

[00:01:24.250] – Big Rich Klein

Let’s talk about 20 years plus of off-road racing, starting Precision Preparation Incorporated, PPI, racing with a stable of drivers, including Ivan Stewart, before he became known as Ironman, then on to NASCAR, then on to IndyCar, dabbling in F1, back to NASCAR, and is now the CEO of Legacy Motor Club, a NASCAR team out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Cal Wells, how are you doing?

[00:01:53.510] – Cal Wells

I’m good. Sorry, I missed you there.

[00:01:55.700] – Big Rich Klein

Oh, no, no, no, that’s all right.

[00:01:57.530] – Cal Wells

I’ve got LeMans on here. Somehow my speakers were screwed up. Anyway, I didn’t hear the call come in.

[00:02:06.150] – Big Rich Klein

No worries. No worries. Thank you for making the time to do this interview. I’ve been looking forward to this one, and I’m sure there’s plenty of off-road enthusiasts that are looking forward to this as well.

[00:02:19.370] – Cal Wells

Are there any of your listeners that are old enough?

[00:02:23.650] – Big Rich Klein

Oh, yes. I’ve got listeners everywhere. My son went to Cabo, He’s got a condo down there. And they were checking in. And the concierge that was at the next desk when my son says, Hey, yeah, I’m Rich Klein. I’m checking in. The guy goes, Are you Big Rich? And my son says, No, I’m his son. Little Rich, and he goes, Oh, we love your dad, Big Rich. Everybody down here listens to his podcast.

[00:02:52.510] – Cal Wells

That’s awesome.

[00:02:54.030] – Big Rich Klein

And he was like, Damn, everywhere I go, dad, people know you.

[00:02:58.650] – Cal Wells

Yeah, exactly. That’s how they’re all lined up. We’re going to see a hell of a start here. Do you watch sports car racing at all?

[00:03:05.760] – Big Rich Klein

I don’t very much on TV because I don’t watch TV. I normally catch highlights on the internet, but it’s not the same. I love Le Mans.

[00:03:18.640] – Cal Wells

Yeah, they’re literally just coming to the green. Now, I have a friend who runs the stuff for Chip. Okay. Steven Midas is his name, and he runs Cadillac, but General Motors stuff, and they qualified second, third, 8.3-mile track, and they missed pole by a 10th of a second. Wow. If you think about that, it’s crazy.

[00:03:43.350] – Big Rich Klein

That’s like two foot on the line.

[00:03:47.940] – Cal Wells

Yeah, exactly. It’s just on an 8.3-mile track. I mean, think about that. It’s just hard to even fathom to me, but it could be that close. But Anyway, that’s pretty cool. Yeah, it is. Pretty cool. So I love all kinds of racing.

[00:04:06.830] – Big Rich Klein

Anyway, sorry. I digress. No, no, no, no, no, I’m really looking forward to this interview, and it’s one a long time coming. You’ve been in the off-road and motor sports business for quite a while, since actually about the time I graduated high school. So you were pretty young because we’re not that many years apart. In fact, only three. So let’s find out where were you born and raised.

[00:04:39.610] – Cal Wells

I was actually born in Pomona, California. Okay. 1955. Within the same month that Disneyland opened. And lived in Pomona for a very few years, and then migrated to Corona Del Mar for three or four years, but actually grew up in Tustin, California.

[00:05:00.360] – Big Rich Klein

Okay. And I know that almost all of LA was still pretty rural at that point, unless you got right downtown. Was that the case for you?

[00:05:13.060] – Cal Wells

You know what was, Orange County really had Orange Groves. It was quite the thing. When I was working for my dad in my early teens, I would run bolts of fabric to downtown LA, to the Garment district. My dad I was a drapery and cornice box manufacturer, and I actually built. I wasn’t a carpenter, but I would make plywood cornice boxes and then upholster them. I was a gopher as well. I got my driver’s license early, 15 and a half. I would drive downtown from Westminster, which is ultimately where I first built PPI as well. I was building cars in my garage, but I would run these things for my dad. And just to comment back on it being rural, I could get from Westminster to downtown LA in 35 minutes, and now it would take 3 hours.  READ MORE

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