Rich in storytelling, Episode 141 features Sue Mead, Off-road Journalist Extraordinaire


“Write the story you just told me,” that’s the advice Sue Mead got when she was struggling, “just simply put those words down on paper,” and it wasn’t bad advice. That’s the secret to getting started with just about anything. Begin with what you know. Big Rich was privileged to interview ORMHOF inductee about her life in off-road – they talked Camel Trophy, Dakar, Gazelle, and Baja 1000 among other stories. We could all learn a little about bravery and living life to the fullest from Sue. Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app, then dream a little about what’s next for you!


6:49 – Rural can be different depending on the makeup of people that live in an area

11:12 – my first roll of film had three photos go to the Associated Press

18:22 – 85% of the photography needs can be met with a cell phone

24:42 – make sure you know your exit before you get on top of things

30:43 – “What I really want to know is how do you get along with people?”

35:01 – “your organs are shutting down, we don’t know if we can save you.”…I prayed two prayers that day.

43:04 – “you didn’t do too bad for a girl”

There is more, so much more; listen in to hear about Borneo, Bolivia, Alaska, and so many more adventures.  When I grow up, I wanna be Sue Mead!


[00:01:47.640] – Big Rich Klein

on today’s episode of conversations with big rich, we have Sue Mead. Sue is a 2007 Ormhof Inductee. That’s the Offroad Motorsports Hall of Fame. She’s an automotive journalist and a participant in Camel Trophy. She’s made trips to Dakar. She’s been in the Baja 1000. So let’s get on with this and say, thank you, Sue, for coming on board and talking with us today.

[00:02:18.080] – Sue Mead

Well, thank you for having me on your show, Rich, and for wanting to know more about my history as an enthusiastic offroader, an occasional offroad racer. And I’m very proud to be an ORMHOF inductee. So thanks for having me on the show.

[00:02:42.360] – Big Rich Klein

We’re pleased to have you here. For sure. I’m really excited about getting into the Ormhof Inductees. Done a couple so far. I’ve got a couple more on my list, but hopefully we’ll get to everybody and their families that have been inducted so far. But this one is about you. So let’s start off the questioning. Where were you born and raised?

[00:03:03.600] – Sue Mead

Well, I was actually born in the town that I’m in again many years later. I was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which is in the Berkshires of Mass. That’s on the border of New York State and Vermont. And it’s an area with I love to describe it as cows and culture. It’s in the mountains and we have a lot of forest roads. Some of those roads I use growing up to do some fun four wheeling. And that’s been part of the history, or my personal history that made me gravitate. I was not looking for this career, but when it came to me, I couldn’t have been more happy. So it’s a beautiful area. It’s adjacent to Albany, New York, and it’s near the site of some Jamborees that Mark Smith put on in an area called Charlemont Mass.

[00:04:10.490] – Big Rich Klein

Excellent. So it sounds like it’s pretty rural by the way you described it. And I’ve been in New Hampshire and Vermont and through that corner and all up and down. Didn’t spend very much time except crossing New York to get up into Maine and Massachusetts and on up the actually we made a trip up to Nova Scotia and then did a couple of rock crawls in New Hampshire but really love the area and even the mid sized towns. It feels rural.

[00:04:46.080] – Sue Mead

Well, that’s a really good description. It’s funny because if I simply say that I live in Massachusetts, it’s really not uncommon for people to say, oh, Boston not only. And I say to them, my town is literally as far away from Boston as you can be and still be in the state because I’m on the border of New York and Vermont. So it is rural. And I’ve had the good fortune through my career which we’ll get to of traveling the world. And what I love is I was away from this town for a number of years, and I purposely came back here about 43 years ago to bring my daughter up here in a similar fashion to how I was. Brought up in sort of the sort of epic of living in a bit of a rural area with some art pursuits and theater and other things. I really purposely chose to come back here and it’s been the antidote to years where I’ve traveled as much as I think my top number of days away was 248 one year. So I loved I love coming back to a place that’s quiet and as I said, has cows and culture and some four wheel drive trails.

[00:06:18.360] – Big Rich Klein

Yeah, that’s awesome. Growing up and going to school in those days, it was pretty much basic education. I’m not sure about you, but for us there was really no electives except for like shop or home ec or something like that. And I grew up on the peninsula below San Francisco. Was the schooling there pretty much the same?

[00:06:49.080] – Sue Mead

I think there’s been excellent schooling in the county that I live in. It’s a bit of an enclave, some of the towns that are more rural or some just rural towns. And I lived for a little patch of time in White River Junction, Vermont, which is another rural area. But rural can be different depending on where it is and the makeup of people that live in an area. Williamstown was one of the things that was prominent feature here was the founding of Williams College and the land given by Ephraim Williams to have a free school on the land here. It’s no longer free, by the way, what is but also my mother grew up on a 400 acre farm in South Williamstown, her dad being a farmer. There were nine children in the family. She goes back generations to farm families here that literally work the land. And I once wrote a book I’m a little moving forward here, but I once wrote a book that was called Monster Trucks and Tractors, and my goal was to chronicle the history of traction engines. And I have a picture in that book of my grandfather walking behind a horse and furrowing the ground with a farm implement.

[00:08:31.560] – Sue Mead

And I remember starting to write in my book, this was back in the day, and I realized it was back in the day here. But now that I’ve traveled the world, there are many people, as you know, that use that kind of horsepower still today. And the other fun factoid about my grandfather was that he sold the first steam engine tractor in Berkshire County and was entrepreneurial and had a little bit of a dealership, if you will, with steam engine tractors. So when I was researching my book, I learned that, and that was just really cool to learn and think about my career.  READ MORE

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