Self-acclaimed wimp (yeah, right?) Jason Berger on checking off bucket-list items; living in Truckee, and racing with his best friend. Lots of great quotes and plenty of laughter with Jason and Rich in this 130th episode of Conversations with Big Rich. Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast channel.
6:05 – I’m the oddest local to live in Truckee because I’ve never skied Squaw and I’ve never smoked pot
13:22– I put 1000 miles on that truck going back and forth in my parent's driveway
21:51 –… Chris Durham, I swear, I was like, this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.
26:14 – how much time before I lose my finger?
30:10 – the 4wd community reached pretty deep for the Disabled Sports Run
36:37 – you don’t need to win by 10 minutes, you just need to win
43:09 – I’m retiring right now, Shannon Campbell wants my autograph!
50:20 – I don’t think Crossfit is for everybody, I think it is for anybody
1:04:26 – I took JT and Tom Wayes to Baja for two very good reasons…
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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[00:00:06.370] - Big Rich Klein
Welcome to conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviews are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talked to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners, employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call offroad.
[00:00:53.790] - Jason Berger
Whether you're crawling the red rocks of Moab or hauling your toys to the trail, Maxxis has the tires you can trust for performance and durability. Four wheels or two? Maxxis tires are the choice of champions because they know that whether for work or play, for fun or competition, Maxxis tires deliver. Choose Maxxis tread victoriously.
[00:01:20.290] - Big Rich Klein
Have you seen 4low magazine yet? 4low Magazine is a high quality, well written, four wheel drive focused magazine for the enthusiast market. If you still love the idea of a printed magazine, something to save and read at any time, 4Low is the magazine for you. 4Low cannot be found in stores, but you can have it delivered to your home or place of business. Visit 4lowmagazine.com to order your subscription today
[00:01:46.810] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Jason Berger. Jason is a man of many talents. Right now he runs a CrossFit company, Dreamtown CrossFit. He is a U4 navigator for Jason Scherer and then also in the UTV class with Shannon Campbell and done some other navigating. He has been a rock crawling competitor way back in the day. He has been a spotter for a number of teams. And he used to run an event called the Disabled Sports Run, which I really want to get into. But Jason, it is so good to have you on board. The other thing I want to tell everybody is that everybody that I've ever talked to about Jason says Jason Berger is a confirmed badass.
[00:02:41.110] - Big Rich Klein
And we'll get into that. It's all the CrossFit and his conditioning and just his state of mind. So, Jason, so good to talk to you and it's been a while.
[00:02:51.310] - Jason Berger
Well, Rich, it has. That was quite an introduction. I'm not sure about that badass part, but we can talk about that later.
[00:02:58.030] - Big Rich Klein
I swear. Everybody I've talked to has said that, though.
[00:03:01.690] - Jason Berger
Well, that's a really awesome, nice, very flattering introduction. Thank you very much. And it's great to hear from you. Great to talk to you.
[00:03:09.270] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it's going to be fun. We've not had a chance to catch up in a lot of years, so it'll be good to do that. So let's get started with the basic first easy question. And where were you born and raised?
[00:03:22.690] - Jason Berger
So I was born in Oakland, California, and then my parents moved to Lake Tahoe when I was two years old, and I've pretty much been here in that area since then.
[00:03:33.260] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so you don't really remember at two, you don't remember much of Oakland, obviously. And you're up in the North Lake area.
[00:03:42.920] - Jason Berger
Tahoe, actually, I live in Truckee, which is just outside of basically on the way to Lake Tahoe.
[00:03:49.850] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, just off the 80. Excellent. And so what was it like growing up there? That's like, just an outdoors playground.
[00:04:00.590] - Jason Berger
Yeah, absolutely. And just like, I think for anybody where they grew up, you don't really recognize where you grew up and how special it was until you get older, and especially when you have a son and raising him in this area. And yeah, it was phenomenal. I don't know any different. I've just been here the entire time, and I go other places, and just nothing really compares to my hometown.
[00:04:22.560] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Except for maybe the tourists. Well, that's a give and take. You got to have that to sometimes keep the lifestyle you do, and that's.
[00:04:35.330] - Jason Berger
What keeps us going up here. And I think that I think this probably for everybody, you get a little bit older and your perspective changes. It used to be when I was younger, I was pissed off at them for coming into my town. And as I get older, I'm more understanding of why they're here. And it's for the same reason I'm here, because it's a great place to be.
[00:04:52.280] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So let's talk about those early years. What did you do as a young child growing up? The possibilities up there are endless. So let's run through some of those things.
[00:05:07.910] - Jason Berger
I think I did what most kids you got a bike, and that was your first chance to have some freedom. So you get bicycle and mountain bikes back then, Rich, as you know, they weren't really what they are nowadays. So I have what we call the mountain bike. I really call it the Today's standards. That was my first form of transportation to kind of get out and start exploring and then just slowly moved into dirt bikes. And that was my main thing, is riding dirt bikes through high school. But, like, in terms of sports, believe it or not, I wasn't a skier, and I skied up here, but I just wasn't very good. I didn't have the talent that everybody else has in this area, and so I didn't ski. But my favorite sport was baseball. And so that was basically what I did most of the time during the summer, is playing baseball.
[00:05:58.010] - Big Rich Klein
Interesting. Okay. I figured skiing would have been right up there at the top.
[00:06:05.210] - Jason Berger
Yeah, I was that skier who, at the end of the year, they give you the most improved award, which means you really suck and you got a little bit better. That's the award I got. I tell everybody I'm the oddest local that lives up here because I've never skied Squaw, and I've never smoked pot, and so find another local. I don't have a problem with either one of them.
[00:06:36.290] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, man. I basically spent my youth growing up there at Squaw Valley in the wintertime. And, yeah, I can't say those two things.
[00:06:46.790] - Jason Berger
You know what? I don't think you find another local who can, or anybody that's been in this area. Like I said, I don't have an opinion on either one of them. I was a terrible skier, and I was a fairly high prospect for baseball, so I just kind of stayed away from everything else. I honestly didn't ski up here.
[00:07:05.640] - Big Rich Klein
So you started playing baseball then, in Little League and stuff?
[00:07:10.620] - Jason Berger
Yeah, started playing Little League, and then I found out I was a fairly decent baseball player. And our season is really short up here, as you can imagine. And so my freshman year, my parents sent me to a private school called Bishop Monogue in Reno. And we're not even a religious family, but a school known for excellence and obviously Reno being about an hour away, 45 minutes away, lower elevation, we had a longer baseball season, so ended up going to high school down there where my baseball could be a little bit more of a priority.
[00:07:47.090] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. And so that was all high school?
[00:07:50.700] - Jason Berger
[00:07:51.620] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And was that like an all boys school, or was it a co ed?
[00:07:58.080] - Jason Berger
No, it was co ed.
[00:08:03.330] - Big Rich Klein
I was like, man, that would be a rough way to grow up.
[00:08:07.530] - Jason Berger
Baseball was pretty important to me.
[00:08:14.950] - Big Rich Klein
What did your family do for fun up there? I mean, ride bikes. You said motorcycles and stuff, but what about as a family?
[00:08:25.670] - Jason Berger
You know, I think that the way I could just sum it up is just because of where we live. You're just basically from my parents house, it wasn't like, a super short walk to the beach, but you could just go down to the beach and hunt out during the beach during the summer. And since we didn't ski look, I shouldn't say that we did ski, but just not it's hard to say you're a skier when you live in the Tahoe area, and you have somebody like Tom Ways that moved from Pennsylvania out here to ski because he was that good. So it's hard to say you're a good skier up here, but you name it, and that's what we're doing as a family, recreationally.
[00:09:02.120] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Okay. Do you still partake in any of that?
[00:09:08.810] - Jason Berger
Yeah, going to the beach and going hiking and a little bit of mountain biking. I still do dirt biking near Jason Share. I go dirt biking, so I still do those things.
[00:09:21.680] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And sledding.
[00:09:22.740] - Jason Berger
I still don't ski. I've got two skis on the front of my snowmobile.
[00:09:28.710] - Big Rich Klein
And you don't put your foot on those?
[00:09:30.940] - Jason Berger
[00:09:33.030] - Big Rich Klein
So let's continue on in school. What were you like as a student?
[00:09:42.670] - Jason Berger
You mean, like, in terms of academically. Yeah, I did what was needed.
[00:09:48.250] - Big Rich Klein
[00:09:50.470] - Jason Berger
Yeah, I just kept that great point where it needed to be, especially when you got to your junior and senior year. Like I said, I was a fairly decent prospect for baseball, so I wanted to have college opportunities, and so I wouldn't say I'm the most academic person. I actually really don't like school very much, and my sister was the one who was definitely the academic one, so I did what I needed to do. Let's just put it that way.
[00:10:18.180] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and did you move on to play ball at college?
[00:10:24.130] - Jason Berger
I did. I started my sophomore year. I was scouted by Kansas City and signed a player's card during my sophomore year and was hoping to get drafted at the end of my senior year. It did not happen, and I ended up going down to Sac State to play ball down there. Kind of a long story, but that didn't last a super long time and then ended up going down to Modesto JC and playing ball down there for two years and basically just got to the end of two years and told my coach if I didn't get drafted that year, I was going to move on.
[00:10:58.460] - Big Rich Klein
[00:10:58.800] - Jason Berger
And it wasn't good enough to get drafted that year, and so I moved on from baseball.
[00:11:04.090] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and after that, baseball kind of went away. What was your next step?
[00:11:15.310] - Jason Berger
You mean like sports wise or you mean like academically?
[00:11:18.750] - Big Rich Klein
[00:11:20.230] - Jason Berger
Life? Yeah. So I moved back up to the Tahoe area and I went to work for my parents who had a transportation business up at the time and just went to work full time for them.
[00:11:31.670] - Big Rich Klein
And what kind of transportation?
[00:11:34.450] - Jason Berger
Anything but basically hauling freight, I would say. Their big concert at that time was Nap Auto Parts and for a company called at and T, which used to be called Pack Bell. But most of the drivers are out at night making deliveries.
[00:11:49.730] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and what kind of things you said you got done playing baseball? That was your primary thing. And you rode motorcycles. Did you ever race motorcycles?
[00:12:05.180] - Jason Berger
No. No, Jason. I entered a race one time, but we really quickly realized that we have to like, 90 miles of pure torture. But no, I never got into racing any motorcycles. And this kind of leads into, I think the reason you and I are kind of having this talk, the reason we met was basically at the end of my high school and kind of beginning of college. That's when I started getting into offroading. And we have the world famous Rubicon Trail here. I originally started with the Willies and then built the Bronco. Honestly, Rich, that kind of became a lot of my focus for about ten years, was really just doing a lot of four wheeling.
[00:12:50.890] - Big Rich Klein
And if you don't mind me asking, when was the end of your ball playing years? About what time frame?
[00:12:59.590] - Jason Berger
Early 20s. When I finished college, I went on to a team in Reno and played a little bit of hardball for them and then just basically kind of left the sport, kind of lost interest.
[00:13:12.530] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and when you were in truckee going to school and stuff, what kind of vehicle did you drive then? What was the first vehicle you got to drive?
[00:13:22.690] - Jason Berger
My very first vehicle my dad gave me when I was eleven years old, and it was a 1960 F 104 X four. And I think I put 1000 miles on that truck going back and forth in my parents driveway. And look, their driveway is only three cars long. I'd have it like during the winter and I put it in two wheel drive and then I'd get it stuck in the snow. And I thought I was so cool, I'd have to get out and engage the hubs and put it four wheel drive and get it unstuck. When I got into high school, I ended up having a 79 GMC Jimmy and of course it was lifted. And then I think later in high school I ended up having a Ford Ranger that I ended up jacking up in the air.
[00:14:11.350] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. Did you start wrenching on your own vehicles?
[00:14:19.550] - Jason Berger
I did. So my parents owning a transportation business, they also own the only taxicab business that was here locally at that time. And so my dad was always putting in engines in the taxis or replacing the clutches. And my dad is just really, truly a jack of all trades. And so I definitely learned at early years how to work on stuff. And that played into obviously those beginning stages of going off roading.
[00:14:49.970] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and then your first time on the Rubicon, how old were you?
[00:14:55.910] - Jason Berger
That was when I was 17 years old with a good friend of mine, Brian DACAs. And we took my dad's 1946 flat fender, 29 inch tires, open front, rear, three speed with a flat head, four in it, and went by ourselves. My dad had no idea. He kind of grew up, but didn't understand what the Rubicon had turned into since 1960 to 1989. Ever gone in there? Yeah, manual steering, manual brakes, open front and rear, air down. I don't think we even had an air chalk. Yeah, that was fun.
[00:15:39.200] - Big Rich Klein
And you went in from the Tahoe side?
[00:15:41.920] - Jason Berger
Yeah, I went in the Tahoe side down to Rubicon Springs one night, just young and stupid, we decided to leave the Springs and go all the way back out to Tahoma. And it's the first time I had actually smoked a stogy and had a chew. And I decided to do both at the same time and proceeded to throw up everywhere and never did that again to think about. Now you've been in the Rubicon? We actually left Carrot Camp and drove all the way back out to Tahoe and all the way back in just in an afternoon for fun. That's awesome. Yeah, we just didn't know any different. Ignorance is bliss.
[00:16:22.170] - Big Rich Klein
Did you carry tools with you guys?
[00:16:25.110] - Jason Berger
We did have some tools and I think on that trip, if I remember correctly, ironically, we had brought an extra battery and we ended up needing it, but we didn't really have anything else. We didn't have spare parts like axles and driveshaft and stuff like that that.
[00:16:42.280] - Big Rich Klein
Most of us carry now you brought a spare battery. Were you having issues beforehand and just thought it was a good idea, or was one just laying around and go.
[00:16:51.020] - Jason Berger
Hey, I might need this, we are the only vehicle. We were just worried if we had a dead battery. I know it's crazy to say, but we actually had a battery problem and had a battery to replace it.
[00:17:02.190] - Big Rich Klein
[00:17:03.930] - Jason Berger
I know, I remember talking about it. Wow, that was a really crazy coincidence that we actually needed that.
[00:17:12.070] - Big Rich Klein
I came into Tahoe, dropped in to the Springs with my daughter and we were in a M 38, a one, whatever, the military CJ Five fuel tank underneath the seat, all that kind of stuff, and we got down to the Springs and I started smelling gas and I thought, okay, I got a bad line somewhere or something. No, there was a screw had fallen down next to the gas tank and it started to leak, rubbed a hole into the gas can, gas tank. So we were down in the Springs. I get it all pulled apart, I'm trying to figure out how to luckily I had a five gallon can on the back. I don't even remember what I did to seal it, but I got it all sealed and it was during the Jeep Jamboree USA, one of those runs, Mark Smith's runs, and we ended up staying down there helping them with like the cook crew and that kind of stuff, and just kind of fell in and then made the trip all the way back through to Placerville. But you never know what's going to happen when you go on a trail like that.
[00:18:26.930] - Jason Berger
You don't. And it's been kind of my speech to my son, who's 18 now, and he uses YouTube, which is a great resource to fix everything, but my point to him is we don't have YouTube, we're in the middle of Rubicon. You just had to figure it out.
[00:18:42.800] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, so true. Yeah. And we did not have YouTube. No, YouTube was looking in the mirror. Yeah, if you had lucky enough to have one of those.
[00:18:57.170] - Jason Berger
Yeah, so that's for sure where all that started for me, and I ended up meeting my wife and she had never done anything like that and she just ended up enjoying it also, but really spent about that solid ten years of our relationship in ten to 20 to 30, just back in the Rubicon and fortice.
[00:19:20.030] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And where did you meet your wife. Was she a local as well?
[00:19:25.810] - Jason Berger
No, she was not. We actually met at a club in Sacramento.
[00:19:30.800] - Big Rich Klein
[00:19:31.690] - Jason Berger
Which is a crazy scenario to be married this much later. I mean, we've been married now 2028 years, and to have met at a club. She was going to UC davis, and she was a freshman. She was 18 years old when I met her, and a couple of weeks later, she's coming up to Tahoe. We went on a date, and the rest is history.
[00:19:51.960] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And now an 18 year old.
[00:19:56.210] - Jason Berger
Yes, we just shipped him off to San Diego state about four weeks ago.
[00:20:01.230] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Is he playing sports?
[00:20:04.250] - Jason Berger
No, he wasn't much of a sports. Okay. I think he was six, and I was trying to teach him how to play baseball. I was like, oh, dear lord, don't ever throw anything in public again. It was terrible. He just didn't get that gene. But, man, ironically, he is a fantastic next level hip hop dancer. Really? Yeah, he is. Richard, blow your mind. He is a phenomenal dancer, and he's really good on a mountain bike, which is another thing I'm not very good at, but Jason Cherry's been out with him quite a few times on a mountain bike, and he's like, dude, he's really good. So, no, he never played ball sports, but he enjoys cool.
[00:20:55.010] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk some of the early rock crawling, four wheeling, going into the Rubicon Fordace, that kind of thing. You talked about the one friend that you went in with. Who are some of the others that you met while wheeling?
[00:21:12.550] - Jason Berger
So just some locals that rep here. There was kind of a group of people that I had met locally in the Tahoe area that had old broncos, and that's kind of what reason I got into them. I think there was five or six old broncos, and there was a group of five or six of us that would honestly hit the trail at least two or three times a month during the summer, sometimes just day trips going in on Sunday. But nobody that you would know or anything like that. Just a couple group of local guys.
[00:21:44.220] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and then how did you come across the rock crawling competitions?
[00:21:51.010] - Jason Berger
There was the Amador comp and Chris Durham. I swear, I was like, this is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. And of course, you probably remember back then there was no finesse, and anything that man ever did, it was just put on an amazing show, and I got hooked. I was like, I want to do something like this.
[00:22:13.810] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome that you came to the first event.
[00:22:17.070] - Jason Berger
[00:22:18.610] - Big Rich Klein
You and about 2000 others. 3000.
[00:22:22.180] - Jason Berger
Yeah. That was an amazing event. And then I want to say it's kind of so long ago, but I want to say my next event was two reviews, and that's where I met our late friend Phil Paziac. His spotter got hurt, and I didn't know Phil very well, and he was like, hey, can you spot me? My first spotting gig was in two gabutes being pulled out of the crowd to come spot for him. And it was that time when I actually got hooked on the competition aspect of offroading.
[00:22:57.550] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, cool. I didn't remember that process happened that way.
[00:23:05.470] - Jason Berger
Yeah, gosh. I'm spacing his name right now, but his father at the time got hurt. And then I think we placed, like, seven and still was like, wow, never done this. Will you want to spot again? I think sooner we were at that. Remember the fernley, some boulders laid on the side of that hill, and I fought it for him there. And that's actually the first time I met Jason, was at that competition in Firmware.
[00:23:37.160] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. That was an interesting event. That's all I got to say about that one.
[00:23:46.910] - Jason Berger
Throw some rocks and some dirt and see what happens.
[00:23:49.320] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. On the side of a mountain?
[00:23:51.550] - Jason Berger
[00:23:52.320] - Big Rich Klein
[00:23:54.050] - Jason Berger
[00:23:55.310] - Big Rich Klein
So then let's talk about the rock crawling. You got started with spotting for Phil and then eventually you started to drive, too, didn't you?
[00:24:06.410] - Jason Berger
I did. I can't remember exactly when it was, but it was only so much time. You can spend it on the other end of the rope, and then you want to try and see if you're good enough. And that's when it was like, the Euro West and Europe East, and they entered. I think my first one was Europe West. I'm not sure positive that, but I bought a Buggy online and had portals made by Factory tubular Motorsports at that time, I think, and it had some unimag portals underneath it. And that's the first time I got my hands in on any sort of competition driving.
[00:24:43.930] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and you competed at Donner, did you not?
[00:24:48.270] - Jason Berger
I did, yeah. I did compete at Donner, and I can't remember all the comps.
[00:24:55.170] - Big Rich Klein
Were you the one that had the big role at Donner that went like, three or four times over down the hill, or was that somebody else?
[00:25:01.960] - Jason Berger
Yes. Your son actually cleared the area. That's still on YouTube. I know for sure, but it cleared the area. That was kind of like a last minute decision. I was going to drive Derek Trent's buggy in the XRA. I can't remember if that's Extreme Park Racing Association at the last minute, derek is like, hey, why don't you take my Bug? You up there? And to be honest, it was such a badass rig for rock racing, but really wasn't set up for those type courses. And I don't know, I just little too much throttle and not being careful enough, and next thing I know, I was kind of rolled a couple of times down the hill there.
[00:25:42.990] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it was very spectacular.
[00:25:46.290] - Jason Berger
Yeah. Not so good for Derek's vehicle, which was absolutely terrible when you're driving somebody else's rig. But fortunately, nobody got hurt and yeah, it was a spectacular role.
[00:25:56.730] - Big Rich Klein
And if I remember right, didn't you smash a finger at one of the events?
[00:26:03.350] - Jason Berger
Man, you are really so there was a positive thing that happened to Donna Too Rich. Remember I pulled that wheelie on Nitrous?
[00:26:12.070] - Big Rich Klein
How did you get to that?
[00:26:14.910] - Jason Berger
I was like, wow, you keep bringing, like, wow. I didn't have very good luck locally, did I? Yeah. So later, I ended up spotting for Nick Campbell, and I went to throw down. I remember it was a big log, and I remember hitting my hand, and then I ran up on the course, starting getting Nick up there, and I looked down, and one of your judges, my finger was split open to where you could see the bone. And one of your judges, like, freaked out about getting the medicine. Like, no, we got to finish the course. We're in first place and can't stop right now, and got Nick to the end. And the medics wouldn't bandage me up because they wouldn't let me back out on course if they bandaged me up, but I could bandage myself up and then go back out on course. So we called my wife's, a nurse, so we called the local doctor to see how much time I had. So I lost my finger, and he said it was a good at least five or 6 hours, and we only had a couple of hours of comp left. So we finished that comp and took first and then rushed down.
[00:27:17.350] - Jason Berger
And I'll never forget because it was Father's Day, and the talker that I knew actually came in. He wasn't on call. He came in and stitched me up so I wouldn't lose my finger.
[00:27:28.410] - Big Rich Klein
So you still have the tip of your finger?
[00:27:30.570] - Jason Berger
I still have the tip of my finger, yeah. It doesn't look the same. And I know this Jason, sher has one that's identical, almost like we're brothers. But, yeah, it's all good.
[00:27:41.660] - Big Rich Klein
Now let's talk about the Nitrous launch up the hill, then.
[00:27:47.610] - Jason Berger
Yeah, that was one of your events where I remember Dustin Webster actually doing the announcing, and we just need a little intermission thing. And Tom and I weren't there. Tom Waits and I weren't there to actually compete. We were just there. I think we were doing recovery, if I remember correctly, and got this hairbrained idea to try and climb that one wall and two wheel drive. And honestly, I wish I could take credit for it, but I thought I'd hit the nitrous and smoked rear tires. And BFG being what they are, they just stuck. And the nitrous has pulled my front tires off the ground, and I held a wheelie all the way to the top of it and got out, and the crowd went crazy, and I acted like I planned the whole thing when a single part of it and that was a fun moment, for sure.
[00:28:37.650] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. So then let's talk about the Disabled sports run that you put on and how that all came about.
[00:28:50.950] - Jason Berger
Thank you for bringing that up. That's definitely one of the things in my life that I'm really proud of. I got involved with Disabled Sports USA. I grew up in a very philanthropic family, my parents always doing something locally for somebody. And as I progressed into an adult, my mom had suggested me going into that organization to help out. They had a water ski program. We take people with disabilities water skiing. And as make a long story short, as I progress through that program, they have been trying to get an Ov grant and to take people with disabilities into the back country. And so we were able to kind of go to those meetings and get the grant for disabled sports and start that program. And it originally just started with day trips, and then eventually we ended up going into the trip. You're probably referring to where we used to go for three days and two nights into the Rubicon.
[00:29:50.020] - Big Rich Klein
Right? It always happened during times where I looked like I was on the road putting on events or whatever, never had a chance to go and always wanted to participate in helping that, and I wished I could have. But you guys ran into some issues with insurance or something, if I remember right.
[00:30:10.890] - Jason Berger
Yeah, ultimately, yeah. And I appreciate it. I always know you wanted to be involved, and your son came and volunteered for it, and even Dave Cole had come at one time and volunteered for it. So we really reached pretty deep in the four wheel drive community, and it really gave me an opportunity to show who these people are that we're involved with the Ford Drive community and how they'll take their shirt off their back for anybody. And it was an incredible opportunity, but pretty much what happened. And I think you can kind of understand the scenario. You're taking people with disabilities into an area where there's no hospital. You're going down Cadillac Hill, and if somebody were to get injured, the liability there is pretty high, and you're already dealing with people who are on medications and things like that. And so finally, the salesforce has lost the insurance for the trip and then ended up ending basically about a 20 year run of that.
[00:31:16.160] - Big Rich Klein
Wow, that long.
[00:31:17.440] - Jason Berger
Wow. Yeah. I think the Rubicon trip, I want to say we were at year 16 or 17, but Andrea and I had been we helped create that program and ran that program for 20 years.
[00:31:31.320] - Big Rich Klein
Wow, excellent. And are you still involved with disabled Sports USA? Is that still a viable so now.
[00:31:43.020] - Jason Berger
Their name has changed. Their new name is the Chief Tahoe. And I'm not currently involved, but I think that I will be venturing back into it. It's just more of a time situation with raising a child, and then that's where your focus goes. And so now. With him going off to college, and I think that both Andrew and I might venture back into that.
[00:32:08.190] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. Let's talk about your wife a little bit.
[00:32:11.100] - Jason Berger
[00:32:11.740] - Big Rich Klein
So she's in the medical profession, I understand.
[00:32:16.690] - Jason Berger
Yes, she works in surgery. She's an RN in surgery here at our local hospital.
[00:32:22.290] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And you guys have been married now well, 20 some years.
[00:32:29.530] - Jason Berger
June 26, 1994 is when we got married.
[00:32:32.500] - Big Rich Klein
[00:32:33.430] - Jason Berger
I'm not looking at anything in this house, so you should be pretty proud of that.
[00:32:37.580] - Big Rich Klein
[00:32:38.370] - Jason Berger
Good job. I hope that's right. I'm going to have to, after this interview, go back and go, was it.
[00:32:44.950] - Big Rich Klein
Well, let me know if it's not, and I'll edit it out so you.
[00:32:50.000] - Jason Berger
Won'T get in trouble. I'm pretty confident. Okay, that's good. Long marriage.
[00:33:01.590] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Okay, so we talked about the rock crawling. We talked about disabled sports. Let's talk about the whole UFO and how that all evolved. King cameras.
[00:33:21.530] - Jason Berger
Yeah. I think probably where you and I spent most of our time getting to know each other better was when I actually went spotted for Nick Campbell.
[00:33:31.040] - Big Rich Klein
[00:33:32.090] - Jason Berger
All those we rock trophies I have in my garage right now, which I don't have any room for anymore, is me spotting for Nick. And so I did that for a couple of years in that promo. And then Jason had built you probably kind of know the story on that, and if not, I'm sure they can listen to the podcast that you have with jason had built a promo car at the time with the Campbells and then asked me to come there in 2009, I guess it was, and go out there and try this King of the Hammers thing. And that was my first time I had ever been in a passenger navigating.
[00:34:09.180] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And how exciting was that?
[00:34:16.970] - Jason Berger
It's the most fun. Right? Especially when you were somebody as talented as Jason driving. You're really having a good time. And we'd never done anything like that. And the car was fast for then, but oh, my God, it was terrible. I thought my heart was going to rip off the inside of my chest. Like, every hit we took hurt so bad.
[00:34:37.370] - Big Rich Klein
Luckily, the courses were shorter than oh, my goodness.
[00:34:40.920] - Jason Berger
Yeah. I've always kind of wanted to go back and run that. I thought it'd be really fun for Dave to create a and they're probably too short now, but is to run exactly what we did in 2009 and see how much faster our times are than that point in time.
[00:34:57.720] - Big Rich Klein
That would be like a one lap sprint of what they do now.
[00:35:03.190] - Jason Berger
Yeah, for sure.
[00:35:04.910] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. And the cars have gone so crazy compared to what they were. I mean, they were trail cars. XRA or Rock Crawlers with a higher gear set is all they were.
[00:35:17.290] - Jason Berger
Yes. No, we didn't have any clue we were doing at all. As a matter of fact. We set it back then. If a Jeep speed could have made it through the rocks. That would have smoked everybody who was out there with the two chassis rig because they were so much faster in the Whoops we just didn't understand how to set it up or just taking a player's razor at that time we were faster in the razor than you would have been in our cars right.
[00:35:42.800] - Big Rich Klein
And probably more comfortable and probably safer. So there's a rumor that the first one to break 120 or 130 was Jason where the two yeah, I don't know about that. I thought you guys did that across one of the lake beds.
[00:36:10.430] - Jason Berger
No, we have gone that fast, but I don't know that we were first to ever break that. I don't know we've done that multiple times, but honestly, when that's happened, it's not usually during the race when we've done that, it's usually we're out having fun during the race. The only reason we would be going that fast is if we needed to do that to try and win, obviously.
[00:36:31.090] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so during the race you might play it a little safer?
[00:36:37.250] - Jason Berger
Oh, 100%, absolutely. You don't need to win by ten minutes, you just need to win.
[00:36:43.430] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and let's talk about strategy. Let's talk about strategy. Race day for a Koh what is the strategy for you guys?
[00:36:58.670] - Jason Berger
Well. The strategy to start out is to qualify well. I don't know that we need to qualify as well as Jason has consecutively he's very. Very good at that but I'll be honest with you. Before we even go do that. It's usually like. Hey. Try and get a top ten. Be up there where there is too much dust but our strategy usually is to try and be up there in the front and that's where Jason's car in the past has shined is in the desert. We feel very comfortable out there. We spend a lot of time pre running the desert sections at pretty fast pace and so take that first lap and try and stay up there at.
[00:37:36.720] - Big Rich Klein
The top I've always looked at it from starting positions and said, okay, going up back door is an option in the race. Sometimes you come down, sometimes you guys go up, but going up, of course, is much more it can be a game changer. So looking at it, if it's first lap or second lap, I don't know if it was an option of one out of the three or not, but what do you guys look at that? I always thought myself that if it's open and clear, take it that first lap and I think you guys have done that a couple of times and then there's other times where just like now we're going to wait till the end. Is there a conscious thought process on that?
[00:38:30.510] - Jason Berger
Oh, for sure, I can tell you right now. I think you could hold me to this if we qualify in that top, like, five or six. We're not hitting it on the first lap. Not going to happen. I want to get out there and get into that fresh air, because if you can get out front and have that fresh air, you will put time on people. And it's not just putting time on people. It's when you're in the dust. That's when mistakes happen. That's when you hit that rock and you hit that hole that ends up sending you tumbling. It is so much easier if you have clear air.
[00:39:04.330] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, that makes sense. So you just put the time on and get the car out there as far as you can ahead of most of the pack, and then worry about, hopefully the time that you do take that back door up. There's not a line of cars, and it could happen.
[00:39:22.720] - Jason Berger
Absolutely. You could be end up making the worst decision to make. But typically in that race, there's so much attrition, by the time you hit it, the second or third lap, probably 30% of the vehicles have already dropped out. There just last vehicles that might be in there, but it could bite you in the butt, too. You could get there and have three or more vehicles deep, and you're just sitting there waiting.
[00:39:48.250] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And what do you think of the strategy of driving up and just automatically winching and not putting the car through the stress?
[00:40:00.310] - Jason Berger
That's what we do every time.
[00:40:01.640] - Big Rich Klein
[00:40:02.390] - Jason Berger
And the only reason we wouldn't do that is if that's near, like, the last obstacle, maybe there's a half an hour left in the race. Like, I don't know how they would create something like that, but if it's got to be like, we got to pull this in one shot to win, otherwise I'm getting out.
[00:40:17.610] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. Makes sense. So what is it about Koh, especially, that is, do you think it's so attractive to everybody?
[00:40:32.570] - Jason Berger
Look, everybody wants to be a trophy.
[00:40:33.960] - Big Rich Klein
Truck driver, so Pistol Pete was right.
[00:40:38.690] - Jason Berger
Pistol Pete was right. Look, I don't care who you ask out there, they're still going to tell you they want to get in a million dollar all wheel drive trophy truck now. I mean, most of them now are kicking ass and Mason Motorsports trucks, but it's just that level of really wanting to go fast. And I think that a lot of us, we saw it as kids, and then we saw what they were doing, and we wanted to replicate that or duplicate that.
[00:41:03.000] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And I think one of the things is that everybody, no matter how fast you are, you could be the fastest guy out there, or you could be the slowest guy out there, you're still driving as fast as you're capable of or your vehicle is capable of. So it's fun.
[00:41:21.590] - Jason Berger
I think you hit the nail on that, and that's exactly what it is, whatever your capabilities are. Jason I have often said that people say, oh, you drive 110%? No, that's dumb. You don't drive 110%. You drive what you're capable of driving, what your vehicle is capable of going to make sure that you don't wreck your vehicle and don't wreck yourself.
[00:41:44.390] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, because like, Sam Berry told me that before I even started taking over Vora, is I asked him, I said, okay, what do I need to know about desert racing? And the first thing he told me was, you have to finish first before you can't finish first unless you finish the race, basically. So, yeah, that's true. If you run the car full throttle, you're not going to likely finish.
[00:42:18.030] - Jason Berger
Yeah, I think it's in order to finish first, you must first finish correct.
[00:42:21.770] - Big Rich Klein
[00:42:25.470] - Jason Berger
I play out every single year. You see everybody come out of the gate, and it's 08:00 in the morning, that flag is dropping, and it's just foot to the floor, and a ton of mistakes are made. That's honestly not how we run. I mean, it may seem like we're going really fast there in the beginning, but we are talking at a very calm level and realized that we still got 7 hours to go.
[00:42:51.150] - Big Rich Klein
Right. What's it like riding with Shannon in the UTV?
[00:43:00.450] - Jason Berger
It's a blast. Because he can't see anything.
[00:43:05.070] - Big Rich Klein
You mean because of his vision or you just can't see out the vehicle?
[00:43:09.570] - Jason Berger
His vision is terrible. But look, Rich, for me with Shannon, god, he's just a legend, and I don't know how to put it. I remember when I first got into any of this stuff, I was like, oh, my goodness, it's Shannon Campbell. When I did that weebly at Donner that afternoon, he came up to me and said, hey, I want a poster of that, and I want to sign to put up in my shop. And I looked at my wife I'm not making this up. And I said, I'm retiring right now. Shannon Campbell wants my autograph. And I was like, oh, my God. And then just that family, they've been like my family, and they've treated me so well. And so you get in a vehicle like that, and I know Shannon seems like he's so crazy, but he really isn't. He's just a really, really good driver, and he knows there's certain things you got to do to win. And all that matters to Shannon is winning. And I think anybody that's at that level, when you realize that your sponsors aren't going to sponsor you if you come in last place, monster Energy is not going to sponsor you unless you're winning.
[00:44:19.770] - Jason Berger
And so there's a lot of pressure there.
[00:44:21.410] - Big Rich Klein
[00:44:22.530] - Jason Berger
But he's a blast to ride with. I mean, there's times where I got to yell at him to calm down a little bit. Sometimes we shit. But no, it's honestly, it's an honor to get into that seat. It's an honor to see my name on the side of the car. I'm just always like, wow, I'm riding a Shannon Campbell. It's amazing.
[00:44:42.700] - Big Rich Klein
So do you find yourself, as a navigator, being kind of a psychologist during the race?
[00:44:49.720] - Jason Berger
I would say that's the main reason I'm in the car. I don't think that I read the GPS. As a matter of fact, I think there could be an argument that I'm terrible reading the GPS. I think it's more of just the ability to stay very calm and very intense situations.
[00:45:07.270] - Big Rich Klein
If I remember it, that's what Sheer said.
[00:45:10.930] - Jason Berger
Yeah. I don't think it's anything I've worked on. I think it's just kind of a natural thing for me to be pretty calm when things are getting pretty crazy.
[00:45:21.290] - Big Rich Klein
And how long do you see yourself doing it?
[00:45:27.410] - Jason Berger
That's up to Jason. I mean, look, I'd love to be doing this in ten years when I'm 61 years old. I'm 51 now. I'd still love to be doing it. Would we be competitive? I don't know. And I think that's where you start to probably not want to do it anymore. Once you've won, all that matters is winning again. And I know I sound like such excuse my language was such a little bitch for being upset about second place, because second place at Kwh is absolutely amazing and something that anybody should be proud of. But once you've won second place doesn't matter anymore. You want to win again. And so I think the only reason we would stop doing this is if we got to the point where we weren't competitive.
[00:46:12.330] - Big Rich Klein
[00:46:13.070] - Jason Berger
Okay, look, that can happen. I actually think that Jason and I have this talk often the car is capable of going faster, but are we capable, especially him, of processing the environment fast enough for that speed? And as you get older, you lose the ability to process that fast?
[00:46:33.510] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, I can attest to that. Yes, I can attest to that. I used to like going out, setting up the vora courses. I would be drifting corners. I didn't care what I was driving. If it was the Cherokee or the one ton pickup, the Suburban, whatever, I would be drifting corners out there all the time. Now. I don't do that very often anymore. It gets harder. So let's talk about your business. What do you do for a living?
[00:47:10.250] - Jason Berger
Well, I own a CrossFit gym.
[00:47:12.260] - Big Rich Klein
[00:47:13.610] - Jason Berger
And it is something that I absolutely love rich when I own my transportation business, it was a great business, and it put a roof over my head, and it put food on the table. But it also had an aspect of me being very stressed about people that I had on the road all night, worried about them getting in accidents and getting injured. And then the next morning, I had a great crew working for me, but the next morning, I just got manager at the auto part store screaming at me on the phone, where's their alternator? Where's my driver? It got exhausting. And so I decided it wasn't the way I wanted to live my life anymore. And I stopped doing that. And I really had no plans on opening across the gym. I was just a coach at across the gym. And It's a long story again, but some things just didn't go right there. And I left that job. And then all the people that I had been coaching ended up coming to my garage at my house and working out here. And then I just recognized that I needed to open up my own gym.
[00:48:19.020] - Jason Berger
And So we did that for almost four and a half years ago. We have enough. Green down. CrossFit.
[00:48:24.250] - Big Rich Klein
Wow. Okay. And then you have a partner that you do some product development and sales with.
[00:48:32.910] - Jason Berger
You mean in terms of for product? Yeah. So Crisp Llano and I teamed up a few years ago when we created a product called Wadrod, which is a product for Sanding. Your Calluses. And it was one of those things. It was an idea that I had, and Chris saw it. And Chris was Like, Dude, you ever need help or want a partner, I'm in. I'm like, that's what I need. I need somebody who works like he does. And you know, Chris, he's a no excuses type person and get things done. And so we started that probably seven years Ago, something like that, but kind of finding that neither one of us are really into retail time. Just trying to convince people that they need to buy my product. So, super proud of the invention, and it's very effective. And if I can get into people's hands so basically what happens in CrossFit, you just get these huge calluses on your hands, and pretty soon, like, you do 100 pull ups. All of a Sudden, they tear, and so the product is Dying. Designed to be able to easily remove those calluses so that you wouldn't tear.
[00:49:43.520] - Big Rich Klein
[00:49:44.770] - Jason Berger
But once again, the problem with it is it's just something I'm selling. And what I love about what I Do, Rich, is and I'm not over exaggerating this, I really, truly mean this at the bottom of my heart. The people that I see every single day in my gym, and It's like, practically bringing tears to my eyes right now. They make me a better person. I absolutely love these people. They're my family. And So I've never had a job that has given me Back way more than I think I'm ever putting in. And so it is absolutely what I truly love.
[00:50:18.550] - Big Rich Klein
[00:50:20.230] - Jason Berger
Yeah. They're an amazing group of people, and then it's giving me my house. I think you definitely knew me when I was near £300, and I just didn't have my health really in check. And I had a time in my life where my son was young and I had to have my appendix removed, and I was embarrassed about how bad I was going in. And I just like, man, I got to pull it together. And I don't think CrossFit is for everybody. I think it's for anybody, but it's definitely for me and it's giving my health back and it's giving me a community of people that I love.
[00:50:57.810] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. That is a key thing element of life is knowing what you love to do and why you do it.
[00:51:09.370] - Jason Berger
It is very not everyone has this opportunity, but I was very fortunate at the time to sell my other business and not have to make what I was making because during COVID, I wasn't sure how we were going to make it at the gym. As you know, that all got shut down and it's that community that kept us alive during that. Not everybody has that opportunity. So I'm very lucky to have been have that opportunity to make it through that.
[00:51:38.950] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So are you still wheeling?
[00:51:44.710] - Jason Berger
So I bronco this year.
[00:51:46.310] - Big Rich Klein
[00:51:50.030] - Jason Berger
Not doing that much wheeling anymore. And I don't know that I'll be out of it forever. It's just right now the time. I'm not that interested in going back on the trail right now. Maybe it's just because I've been on it so many times, but yeah, not doing too much of that right now.
[00:52:06.070] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Even myself, I've gotten into more of the scenic. I want to go places and see things that I haven't seen before, drive down those roads that I've always passed and said, I wonder where that goes. I now make the turn to go down those.
[00:52:24.590] - Jason Berger
We're on the exact same page and maybe that just has something to do with just getting older. I'm not sure. I know every rock on Ford ice. I know every rock on Rubicon and it's absolutely beautiful. But there's a stress involved with breaking down. There's a stress involved with seeing things that don't make me happy on the trail. That just puts me in a bad mood. And so we sold the Bronco and we have a 2005 Ford Excursion. And so we're doing what you do. We roll the windows up and turn the AC on and we just go down some dirt roads and go find some pretty creeks or lakes that we've never been to and set up camp there.
[00:53:00.320] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. So you haven't bought a raptor and become part of the raptoring group.
[00:53:09.870] - Jason Berger
I love my CrossFit business, but it doesn't give me a lot of money. I told you my W two was last year. So I can't afford a raptor. I don't have one for man, I would love to have a raptor. They are absolutely amazing.
[00:53:28.110] - Big Rich Klein
I don't know how I afforded one except that I bought an old one.
[00:53:31.830] - Jason Berger
Here you go.
[00:53:33.150] - Big Rich Klein
It was from a friend that gave me a great deal.
[00:53:36.450] - Jason Berger
Yes. No. Aren't they amazing? When they first came out and I think that most everybody thought this was what a joke. It's just going to be people with money to buy these and don't have any understanding of truly what that vehicle is capable of. And then it's not that case. I mean, the people who are driving them are the off road enthusiasts of the world that are taking out and testing those trucks. You probably know this, but I had the opportunity to go race the Bronco R with Jason and the Baja 1000. Right? What an amazing opportunity. And we had ford gave us I don't remember what it was. I don't know what Cameron figured out. It was like five to seven raptors. And you run those things in Baja pre running for 1000 miles and you don't have any problems with them. And they're an amazingly capable vehicle.
[00:54:30.990] - Big Rich Klein
Very true. When they first came out, I just was like, man, someday I'm going to get me a Raptor. And then between me and Josh Jackson, he was selling his and I contacted him and he told me, well, for you, I'll sell it at this price. And I'm like, okay, cool. So then it was, how do we convince Shelley that we need a raptor?
[00:54:58.570] - Jason Berger
Give her a ride in one.
[00:55:00.790] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, that's what we did. We were putting on a dirt riot race out of Colorado Springs, and that's where Josh lived and has his business. And every day would come out and we'd go to lunch or dinner, and then we went out to the races. There was circle track racing and some other guys came along and they were in a oneton Duly, and the road going out there, it's back highway, and then it's like a two mile dirt road up to the racetrack and there's these big potholes and everything, just like typical racetracks. And the guys that got out of the one ton were like, man, that road was rough. And Shelley looked at him and goes, what road was rough? Because we rode in the Raptor. And I think it was the next day she goes, so how much did Josh want for that? I was like, yes.
[00:56:04.210] - Jason Berger
Yeah. And supposedly, at least from what Jason says, that new Raptor R is just absolutely insane.
[00:56:10.160] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, I can imagine. Yeah, I can imagine. They give it 700.
[00:56:15.990] - Jason Berger
[00:56:17.650] - Big Rich Klein
So what next for Jason Burger and family?
[00:56:24.130] - Jason Berger
So that's a great question. I mean, right now we're an empty nest. We only have one child. And so the last 18 years of our lives and you went through this is raising a human being and then putting them off into the world and hoping you gave them all the tools to be successful. And then now it's more of my wife getting to know me again and me getting to know my wife again and see where that leads and how much fun that is rekindling that relationship in terms of the home front. That's what's going on in terms of my businesses and everything. I mean, look, you probably saw that Jason sold the car that we've been driving. So obviously we're going to keep racing. So that's all I'll say about that works. And then I love my cross the business, so I don't really have plans for any changes. My life is really good and I'm really happy with it, so I don't really have any big changes on the horizon.
[00:57:29.570] - Big Rich Klein
Cool, I get it. And you're 51 now.
[00:57:34.280] - Jason Berger
I'm 51, yeah. Way past.
[00:57:37.170] - Big Rich Klein
Still a young man.
[00:57:41.730] - Jason Berger
I feel young, perfect. But there's certain parts of my body, like, what's the most going on with my hair and things like that. That doesn't make me seem very young anymore.
[00:57:50.950] - Big Rich Klein
Well, just remember, you never lose your hair. It just migrates.
[00:57:55.530] - Jason Berger
[00:57:56.120] - Big Rich Klein
As you get older, you'll go, I never had this hairy back or shoulders or whatever, and all of a sudden you get them hair growing out of your ears. What is that? Probably too young for that still.
[00:58:11.050] - Jason Berger
Yeah, well, we'll see what happens. It's kind of funny having a son and all of his friends are, like, growing mustaches and beards, and I see him lifting his lip up, trying to see if he can see any hair on his lip. Son, you don't have a hairy dad. I'm sorry. I don't know what you're going to do. It takes me two weeks to grow any sort of beard like that even shows, like, I need to shave. So what I'm hoping is that what you've run into because I'm not a hairy person, I'm not going to get that hairy back. You're probably right.
[00:58:46.480] - Big Rich Klein
And then when you get older, it just becomes silver anyway, so, you know yeah, more distinguished. Yeah. There you go. So let's talk about that Baja a little bit.
[00:59:00.070] - Jason Berger
[00:59:00.930] - Big Rich Klein
What was that experience like?
[00:59:03.650] - Jason Berger
Oh, my goodness. I mean, bucket list for me, Rich. And I'm so thankful and I just love him dearly. Just my very best friend is Jason and he's given me just truly the most amazing memories of my life and that experience. I've always wanted to do the Baja 1000, but honestly, I'm just kind of a wimp, Rich. Like, when it comes to going down to Baja. I grew up in a small town and I'll be honest, I'm just scared. I don't have these worldly skills that I don't know, somebody like Tom Waves would have. And so I was really nervous going down there. I needed a really good reason. And I've always been a Bronco fan, and so when I had the opportunity to go down there and ride with Jason and we were in a Bronco, it just made a lot of sense. The box is starting to get checked as it being something I wanted to do. And one thing I didn't say about my wife earlier is just I have a lot of crazy ideas in my life and things I want to do, and she's just always so unbelievably, amazingly supportive.
[01:00:12.850] - Jason Berger
It's never saying no. And she really didn't want me to go to Ball Hawk because she was just worried about the whole thing. And she didn't say it once to me. She said, Go down there and have this amazing experience. And so it truly was. I mean, it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to in terms of Jason. I got through our section, but unfortunately the Broncor didn't finish that year, so it didn't turn out quite the way we wanted. But that's Baja, right?
[01:00:39.520] - Big Rich Klein
[01:00:40.490] - Jason Berger
Sometimes it just eats you up.
[01:00:43.010] - Big Rich Klein
Baja can be very unforgiving, and it not necessarily be a vehicle issue. It cannot necessarily be a team issue or driver navigator. There's just so much that can happen down there that you just never know.
[01:01:05.610] - Jason Berger
Yeah, exactly. I don't know if Jason talked about on his I doubt he would have, but because he doesn't like to put himself in the spotlight or limelight like that. But originally, I was not supposed to be there. That team is supposed to be a team of people who are well known and have established themselves in the off road industry. Matter of fact, when we went out to dinner the first night, they're like, hey, my name is Cameron Steele. I've won the Baha 1000, and here's Jason. And it gets to me. And I'm like my name is Jason Berger. You have zero reason to know who I am. I don't have all those accolades that all those people did. But what happened was they wanted Ricky Rayback is that his last name? To ride Jason because he's this amazing dirt bike rider that Johnny Campbell has mentored and coached along the way. And Jason said, Look, I want my best friend in the car with me. That's why I want the seat. And so he kind of put his foot down and made that dream a reality for me. And when I got down, the Rich and I, like, got handed this bag from Ford and with my name on it, it was absolutely amazing.
[01:02:25.030] - Big Rich Klein
And you guys went down there and pre ram and then did you do that all at once and then go right into the race? Or did you go down, pre run, come back, go down for the race? How did that work out?
[01:02:39.610] - Jason Berger
We went down and pre run and then came back and then went down to race. So we were in San Felipe with that section that we had.
[01:02:47.600] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And that was a loop race, though, wasn't it?
[01:02:52.310] - Jason Berger
Or was that no, it was a loop race. Yeah. And I think we were the fourth people we were after Brad. Brad had it before us and then handed it off to us. That's just any new vehicle blues, right? It's just a lot of people with their hands in it and trying to make that thing come together at the last minute. And the car just truly didn't have enough test time on it. And once we hit about, I think it was about 800 miles is where we're. At. We just finally had to call it. It just wasn't going to make it to the end.
[01:03:27.400] - Big Rich Klein
Right? Yeah, that's a shame. But you know what, you guys? It was a hell of an effort.
[01:03:35.120] - Jason Berger
It was. We were not driving the fastest we could drive the car. It was really trying to get it to the end. And unfortunately, like I said, it didn't make it. We ended up handing it off to Shelby after us, and she did a great job, too, but the card just kept falling apart, more falling apart along the way. And it just got to the point where meeting the deadline for your checkpoints, it wasn't going to happen anymore. But all that being said, it's not the result, but my goodness, for me, it was the most amazing experience in my life. It really, truly was.
[01:04:09.430] - Big Rich Klein
And what did you think of Baja once you got down there, besides the racing? What was it like once you got down there? Was it what you imagined or what about it?
[01:04:26.810] - Jason Berger
I had been down there before. I went down there in 2006 with John Hara. Okay, that's kind of like, I don't know, JT talked about I'm pretty sure you talked to JT on one of your podcasts, but that's when I brought JT with me down there. And that's when JT, after that trip, kind of worked his way into being part of Harris team and doing a lot of the Baja stuff. And I took JT. And I took Tom ways for two very good reasons. Because I'm a wimp and I was scared to go to Baja, and I wanted those two guys by my side. And I am not kidding when I say that I felt like I needed those type of people around me to teach me what Baja was all about. So what I'm getting at is I had been down there before, and to me, it is so crazy how absolutely beautiful Baja is when there's so many reasons not to be beautiful. And I mean, like, trash being everywhere, right? Like, you're just like, oh, man, there's trash all over the streets. There's trash all over the beach. But then you just sit on the beach and you're like, man, this might be one of the most beautiful places I've ever been in the world.
[01:05:41.040] - Big Rich Klein
[01:05:42.470] - Jason Berger
And I think it's hard to explain until people get down there and I really want to take my wife down there, I get nervous and I don't know. Jason said it in his podcast, but we had a pretty gnarly situation. They closed down the road to stop us with military vehicles, and there was no less than 16 machine guns pointed at our truck, and we were pulled out of the vehicles with guns pointed at us.
[01:06:10.810] - Big Rich Klein
Pre running or during the race?
[01:06:12.750] - Jason Berger
No, it was pre running.
[01:06:13.810] - Big Rich Klein
[01:06:14.990] - Jason Berger
We were in the Raptor in typical sheer situation, there's military coming down the side of the road towards us. And we're both like, oh wow, somebody's in trouble. And all of a sudden that flatbed truck pulls in front of us. And Jason's like, screw these guys, and go around him. And I'm like, jason. Dude, I think they're after us. Like, I think we better stop. And so they stopped us, they closed down the road and supposedly it was a mistaken identity thing. Supposedly they thought we were running guns and drugs down the coast. And there was the description of the vehicle that we had and I actually truly think that was what it was because I had money hidden in different places and they searched all my stuff and they didn't take any of that. But there was a moment, Rich, where I was like, well, that might be be some pee in my pants right now, but honestly, I was sitting there with my hands on the front of the truck thinking, okay, so the truck is not registered to us. It has Detroit plates, it's registered to Ford. Hopefully Ford is going to get us out of jail and hopefully everything will be okay.
[01:07:27.730] - Jason Berger
And ended up being a no big deal, but yeah, that was when we were down there pre running, and then we went down there for the race. Totally uneventful time of my life, being in San Felipe on the beach. Like I said, I don't think you can explain it. And I know you've been down there many times, but until you go experience it, there's a certain beauty of Baja that's unmatched.
[01:07:49.590] - Big Rich Klein
I agree. And to me, once you get out of the border towns, even most of the people in the border towns are fantastic. There's that element that's not especially along the border because they can prey on those American tourists or whatever. But, you know, that's why I always go in through Takati. But the people down there are just so much different than anywhere here in the United States. They are how welcoming they can be.
[01:08:34.290] - Jason Berger
And you nailed it. Like you get out of the touristy areas. I would say that when we went down in 2006, my favorite place, I like Laredo a lot too, but that was still pretty populated. But I loved Bay of La. Bay of La. At least in 2006, they didn't even have power in that town. So when the generator shut off, it was just dead silent, no lights, sitting on the beach. And it was the quietest. Quiet. The only other time in my life where I hear something that quiet is when I get up at 430 in the morning and we have had 2ft of snow fall in truckee and it's dead silent. And it's not something you experience very often in today's world.
[01:09:17.870] - Big Rich Klein
True. There's a little stretch of beach called Bueno Ventura down there that I absolutely love. That little spit of beach. Great. Is there anything that we've not talked about that you can think of no.
[01:09:39.320] - Jason Berger
I don't know. You did your homework. I kind of forgot about all the donor stuff. That was pretty amazing.
[01:09:47.210] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, there's certain things I remember.
[01:09:50.030] - Jason Berger
Yeah, absolutely. Look, Rich, man, thank you for everything you've done, because some of the I mean, look, Jason, as close as I am to him and the relationship I have with so many people, are just because of something that you created and kind of brought us all together, and they become lifelong friends because of just this little competition you decided to put together. So I appreciate that. Thank you.
[01:10:17.550] - Big Rich Klein
Well, no worries. I've always figured that that's my legacy, and that is awesome for me to think of that like that.
[01:10:30.210] - Jason Berger
I really have these people in my life because of your hair brain idea.
[01:10:34.950] - Big Rich Klein
Well, Jason, I want to say thank you so much for spending the time and talking about your life, and the stories were awesome, and I really appreciate it, and it was good to get caught up with you again, and I want to say thank you for being in my life.
[01:10:53.970] - Jason Berger
Thank you, Rich. It was an honor to be on your show, and I sure appreciate your time.
[01:10:58.370] - Big Rich Klein
All right, I'll talk to you later. You take care and say hello to the family.
[01:11:02.990] - Jason Berger
I will. Thank you, Rich. Bye.
[01:11:04.570] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, bye. Bye. Well, that's another episode of Conversations with big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happened to be listening on or send us an email or text message or Facebook message and let me know any ideas that you have or if there's anybody that you have that you think would be a great guest. Please forward the contact information to me so that we can try to get them on. And always remember, live life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto you can. Thank you.