Johnny Campbell, American Honda Champion, on Episode 204


Johnny Campbell, 11-time Baja Champion, Johnny has raced, supported, and managed the American Honda team. A fun listen, Johnny shares stories from around the world. Johnny was inducted in the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2018. Johnny is why we say; legends live at  Be sure to tune in on your favorite podcast app.


9:17 – at a local level, I had a couple number one plates. I had a few mentors, I was always following them and watching what they were doing

13:13 – I was 21 when I finally got noticed by American Honda, and a guy who became my absolute hero and mentor

24:26 – Bruce was super humble, super organized, super smart

31:32 – we were professional at pre-running and racing and following ribbons and arrows, but we were novices at trying to navigate off a roadbook

41:57 – I call it 11 time, 17 gives people the illusion I rode it all

53:35 – We’ve built a program around Rancho Santa Maria, the school and orphanage that every year we do an event called the Baja Beach Bash

59:56 – ORMHOF was a really big point in my career; I think as a racer, it’s more than just racing, it’s how have you impacted the sport?


[00:01:15.400] – Big Rich Klein

On today’s episode of Conversations with Big Rich, it is my honor to talk with a man with a record 11 SCORE Baja titles, an amazing 17 Baja 1,000 wins in a row, and he is a 2018 Inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

[00:01:32.810] – Big Rich Klein

My guest is none other than Johnny Campbell. Johnny Campbell, it’s great to have you on this podcast. I’m really looking forward to this episode, and thank you very much.

[00:01:45.090] – Johnny Campbell

Yeah, it’s great to be on with you, Rich. Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure. Being an Inductee in the ORMHOF is a huge accomplishment for myself, and just Just, yeah, easy for me to talk about my story.

[00:02:03.630] – Big Rich Klein

Excellent. Well, let’s jump right in. The first question is, where were you born and raised?

[00:02:11.870] – Johnny Campbell

I was actually born in Laguna Beach. I was raised in San Clemente, California, South Orange County. I was 150 yards from the Pacific Ocean and grew up in a beach town, surfing and being a beach kid.

[00:02:31.450] – Big Rich Klein

Right. I would imagine that being that close to the ocean. I get it. I grew up in Northern California, near the beach. I was maybe 10 miles away, but then moved to the beach area, Pacifica. The water’s a lot colder up here.

[00:02:50.310] – Johnny Campbell

That’s for sure. As I got older, then I became more of a chicken of cold water. But it’s not the same when we have older joints.

[00:03:01.820] – Big Rich Klein

Yeah, and all these people doing this cold plunge anymore. I just can’t get myself to do something like that.

[00:03:08.940] – Johnny Campbell

Yeah, I’ve done them before, but man, it’s tough mentally to do that.

[00:03:14.430] – Big Rich Klein

It’s brutal from what I understand. But everybody seems to love it afterwards. Once I got warm, I guess. So when you were growing up in those beach communities, what was school like for you? Were you one of those kids that did really well, or were you always looking out the window?

[00:03:35.140] – Johnny Campbell

No, I was a pretty good student. Always tried to get good grades and achieve. I think I had one year in high school where I just fell off the wagon for a while. And like my sophomore year, I had one semester. But my mom and dad were pretty… They said, Hey, if you want to do all these activities and surf and ride and race dirt bikes, it’s like you got to toe the line in school. So I was always like that. And my dad was a big dude. And it’s like I respected him and didn’t want to do anything that caused problems because I wanted to ride and race.

[00:04:23.280] – Big Rich Klein

Right. And was that your primary interest while you were growing up, or did you have other interests, scouting camping or anything like that?

[00:04:32.910] – Johnny Campbell

Well, we grew up… I was always active, but we grew up with, obviously, great weather. So we were always very active outside, riding bicycles, skateboarding, surfing. And then it was always like my dad, this is probably a question for further, but my dad, he rode dirt bikes and raced on an amateur level. And so I always had that passion for dirt bikes since even before I rode them or had my own bike. And so we would go to the desert once a month in camp in the good season. And then my dad would race about once a month and stuff. So I grew up doing that and camping and stuff.

[00:05:19.580] – Big Rich Klein

Okay. And with you saying that before you got your first bike, what was and when was your first bike?

[00:05:29.920] – Johnny Campbell

I was nine years old, and my dad brought home a Honda XR 75, and I was so excited. I mean, I’ve been wanting a dirt bike since I could remember, so it was a special moment for sure.  READ MORE

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