Conversations with Big Rich

Enter the Sand Man, Herman Booy, on Episode 160

April 27, 2023 Guest Herman Booy Season 4 Episode 160
Conversations with Big Rich
Enter the Sand Man, Herman Booy, on Episode 160
Show Notes Transcript

ORMHOF Class of 2004 inductee Herman Booy was larger than life. Listen in as his daughter and nephew, Sherry and Steve, share life on the sand with Herman and his brother, Hal, and all the adventures they had. We are thrilled to be able to offer interviews with inductees' families when the inductee is no longer with us. This is our history; legends live at  Be sure to tune in on your favorite podcast app.

7:17 – There are these sand dunes over here called Glamis; why don’t you come on out here?

14:38 – we got back to camp, and one of our buddies was gone!                                

18:59 – an amazing engineer for a man not classically trained as one 

21:49 – Dad took the conveyor belt out of the rose business and stitched it together to create the first paddle tire

27:43– no raffle tickets from Loretta, so she shot him!

33:40 – the Blue Goose was one of the first modern type motorhomes they built from a bread truck

42:32 – he had to push that car across the finish line to get the win

52:50 – what’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work, so you figure out what you did wrong and fix it again.

Special thanks to for support and sponsorship of this podcast.

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[00:00:00.980] - Big Rich Klein

Welcome to Conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviewed are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to past, present, and future legends, as well as business owners, employees, media, and land use warriors, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle we call offroad. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active in offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world that we live and love and call offroad.


[00:00:46.120] - Big Rich Klein

This episode of Conversations with Big Rich is brought to you by the Offroad Motorsports Hall of Fame. The mission of the Hall of Fame is to educate and inspire present and future generations of the offroad community by celebrating the achievements of those who came before. We invite you to help fulfill the mission of the Offroad Motorsports Hall of Fame. Join, partner, or donate today. Legends live at


[00:01:15.040] - Big Rich Klein

On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we are doing an ORMHOF special. That's the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. We are doing it about Herman Booy. He is a 2004 inductee as a builder and innovator into the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. And while sand cars were his first passion, Herman also built funny cars, dragsters, and mechanicked on off road race teams. And for himself, he built a 100 yard world record sand car, and that's according to the Guinness Book of World Records. I'd like to thank Sherry Nelson and Steve Smith for joining me today and discussing Herman's life and his offroad career. Sherry, thank you so much for coming out. And Steve, thank you for being available as well.


[00:01:59.670] - Sherry Nelson

You're welcome. Thank you.


[00:02:02.060] - Big Rich Klein

Sherry, you're his daughter, so let's start there. I understand that Herman was born in New Jersey. Is that correct?


[00:02:10.590] - Sherry Nelson

That's correct.


[00:02:11.910] - Big Rich Klein

And do you have any stories that you can share from him as he was a little kid, before maybe he came out to California?


[00:02:20.410] - Sherry Nelson

Well, the stories are actually funny because his parents, one came from Holland and one came from Germany, around the wartime. New Jersey was so cold and they were rose growers, and it was miserable. His dad came out to California to see if there was a better place for him to grow roses. Dad said he couldn't throw his stuff in the car fast enough to get to California to get out of that cold weather. And he was nine or 10 at the time, so he was ready to leave.


[00:02:58.590] - Big Rich Klein

Well, that's interesting. Moving to grow roses. It's amazing what our ancestors did before to get us to where we're at today.


[00:03:10.370] - Sherry Nelson

Right. Yeah, it really is. And it's funny because Steve's mom, which is my dad's brother, she couldn't believe he'd want to leave there because it was a kid's paradise. There was hunting and fishing, and it was so much beauty to move to California in the desert. She couldn't believe you wanted to go. It was funny.


[00:03:30.140] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, I understand that. I love trees myself, but there's just so much to do in the desert because of that open terrain. Yes. And what about stories on the... Were there any good stories on the trip out?


[00:03:45.920] - Sherry Nelson

I never really heard him talk about it. They fought back and forth, him and his sister and he. Steve, do you have any?


[00:03:57.340] - Steve Smith

Well, I remember one story. It wasn't on the way out. I think they probably were already in Hemet at by that time. They were eating dinner one night, and my mom was smart enough to Sherry's dad. Herman grabbed the handful of potatoes and threw them at her. She ducked and it stuck on the wall. Our grandfather just went ballistic and was going to kill Herman. I think he must have been 10 or 12 years old at that time. But my mom always thought that that was a really funny story about Herman.


[00:04:30.370] - Sherry Nelson

That was because my grandfather came over from Holland on a ship, and they had to eat rats at the last part of the voyage because they ran out of food. He couldn't believe his kids would waste food like that. So that was also interesting, I thought.


[00:04:53.090] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, that's a prevalent train of thought or characteristic of what would be our great grandparents and older generations, especially those that came across on ships. I love reading that history and reading the histories and them talking about eating the rats that are on board a ship. I couldn't even fathom that unless I was absolutely starving.


[00:05:27.760] - Sherry Nelson



[00:05:28.430] - Big Rich Klein

It's a different age nowadays.


[00:05:30.570] - Sherry Nelson



[00:05:31.730] - Big Rich Klein

So once Herman got here and his family got here to California, here I'm in Northern California, I'm assuming you guys are by your telephone numbers are in Southern California still.


[00:05:43.560] - Sherry Nelson

Correct, yeah.


[00:05:44.900] - Big Rich Klein

How did things progress for them? You said they moved into Hemet?


[00:05:51.180] - Sherry Nelson

Yeah. My grandfather had came to the area and he had looked in Orange County and there was a lot of orange groves out there. He drove all over trying to figure where he wanted to go. He drove into the little valley of Hemet and he just fell in love with it. This is where I'm going to grow roses. He started a rose business here with his cousin, and they started a rose business here in the Valley. And there was a lot of orchards and grapefruit oranges in the area. We're close to Orange County. And that's just how things started. And dad obviously had to work on the tractors and help with the rose business early on. When I was a kid, we had the sheds where they would actually pack the roses in their roots and they had to dip them in wax to seal them. And they had conveyor belts that moved the roses from point A to point B. That was back in the early 60s.


[00:07:03.870] - Big Rich Klein

And so then your great grandfather built this business, Rose Business, and it was still going on 20, 30 years later. How long did that business last?


[00:07:17.980] - Sherry Nelson

I want to say it lasted right till 1969 because my father had zero interest in a Rose business. He was building sand buggies at that point. He went to college. He went to Cal Poly College. One of his college roommates said, Hey, we have a ranch out in the desert. Why don't you come out for the weekend and just check out the ranch? So I took him out to the ranch that was in Calipatria, California. He met my mom there at that ranch. That was her cousin. They said, Hey, let's go have some fun. There's these sand dunes over here called Glamis. Why don't you come on out there? They had old Jeeps from the war. This was like 1955. He went out there and he fell in love with it. He wanted to come home and build something that would run out there. That's what started it.


[00:08:22.000] - Big Rich Klein

That's what started it all. That's awesome.


[00:08:25.500] - Steve Smith

My dad went to school with Herman. Our grandfather sent my dad and Herman to school so that they could take over the Rose business. But Herman was one math class short of getting his BS in, ornamental, horticulture. He was very knowledgeable. But as Sherry had said, he didn't want to have anything to do with the rose business. Unfortunately, neither did my dad. So the rose business slowly died, and then our grandfather passed away in 1969. There was no one else to move that business forward.


[00:09:04.980] - Big Rich Klein

Right, that makes sense. And that must have been a really rural area back then. It's just in the last 10 years, maybe 15, that it's really exploded with a lot of growth. But the properties there are larger footprint properties into the 5-10 acre type things. Do you know how much land that they grew up on for an operation like that?


[00:09:31.140] - Sherry Nelson

We had a lot of land back in the day. The property that we lived on that had the sheds and all that, I would say that was probably, what, 15, 20 acres right there, Steve?


[00:09:43.480] - Steve Smith

Yeah, that was just the processing. And then I believe they farmed at least 100 acres of roses. And they primarily grew bush and tree roses, and they would bare root them, and then they would ship them off to their locations around the country.


[00:10:01.240] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, all right. Both of your parents, Herman and his brother, decided... Or was it brother or cousin? Brother in law. Brother in law. Okay. Decided not to go into the Rose business. We know Herman got into off road. What did his brother in law do?


[00:10:23.220] - Steve Smith

My dad went into... He was a landscape contractor for a handful of years, and then he went into education. He taught after that.


[00:10:33.290] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, interesting.


[00:10:34.910] - Sherry Nelson

I have to step in a little... Maybe I'm stepping too far forward, but they started a sand buggy club, IDBA, which is Inland Empire Dune Buggy Association. And they put on drag races right here in the sand wash right here in Hemet. Steve's dad, Hal Smith, was the announcer for all of the drag racing. And he was a big part of the club. And he helped my dad get it sanctioned and get it started.


[00:11:11.900] - Big Rich Klein

Oh Excellent


[00:11:12.080] - Steve Smith

 and he was also president of the National Sand, NSCA, National Sand competition Association. And I don't know if that organization still exists, but that was all spawned out of the Inland Empire Dune Buggy Association, and they created that NSCA just for the sand racing. And the sand racing sure didn't... I remember it was in their Bakersfield. They did some in Oregon. They did a beach race in Oceanside once.


[00:11:48.850] - Big Rich Klein



[00:11:50.450] - Sherry Nelson



[00:11:51.740] - Big Rich Klein

When there was a lot more freedoms.


[00:11:54.400] - Sherry Nelson

Yes, that's true.


[00:11:56.730] - Big Rich Klein

What are the earliest memories that you have, Sherry, of the sand and your dad and the business that he was into?


[00:12:07.470] - Sherry Nelson

Our childhood, Steve was right there with us every step of the way. My dad built the family buggy, which I sent you picture of that family buggy. And us kids would sit on the back seat, and when they'd go up a hill, our feet would literally drag on the sand behind it. So those are my earliest memories. I was probably four at the oldest, sitting in that sand buggy. Today, they'd go to jail for... There was no roll cage around us. We barely had seatbelts.


[00:12:45.010] - Big Rich Klein

You had a child's endangerment.


[00:12:47.690] - Sherry Nelson

Definitely child endangerment. But that's some of my earliest memories of the sand. And then he got into the racing at the same time. But my earliest memories are the family buggy Glamis. We'd go to Coos Bay, Oregon was another place, Du Mont Dunes, Kelso, which a lot of those are closed now.


[00:13:14.610] - Big Rich Klein

Right. That's another shame, but that's another story.


[00:13:18.620] - Sherry Nelson

That's a whole another story.


[00:13:21.500] - Big Rich Klein

And Steve, what about yourself? What do you remember from those early days?


[00:13:26.890] - Steve Smith

I just remember we just had a really good time as kids growing up out in the desert, out in the sand dunes. There was just nothing better. I'm four or five years older than Sherry, so I got to experience maybe things a little bit differently than what she did. But it was a good time. I remember some things that went on out there that I don't know if it's good to repeat, but it was just... And everybody t was really cool about it is everybody helped everybody. If somebody was broke down, the whole crew pitched in and got the car going. It's just very reminiscing of what it was like in the early days of the drag racing and all the other types of racing that our families have done. Over the years, it was a community effort. It was just a really special time. It was a great time to be a kid out in the desert.


[00:14:27.520] - Sherry Nelson

Yes, it was. I remember once we were out at Glamis.


[00:14:32.470] - Big Rich Klein

Have you been to Glamis, Rich? Yes. I go out there every fall with the Rebelle Rally.


[00:14:38.880] - Sherry Nelson

We were out at Glamis. In the early days, this is when we were the only ones really out there. There wasn't maybe two or three other campsites besides ours. Ours was big, but there wasn't very many people out there. And one of our buddies, we got back to camp. My dad would lead us. He was the leader. And we got back to camp, and one of our buddies wasn't in the line. He was gone. Nobody knew where he was. We didn't have radios back then or anything. So they got back and dropped all his kids off. And then the wind came up. You know how the wind is out there? The wind came up. It was horrific. And they were out all night trying to backtrack and find him. And they finally came in all wind burned and he couldn't wear glasses because it was night time and the wind was whipping, sandblasting them. And then they went right back out first thing in the morning and they found him in a bowl. He had started a little bit of stuff he had on fire to keep himself warm, but he didn't get any sand on him because he was down in the bottom of the bowl.


[00:15:51.070] - Sherry Nelson

He was fine. But it was just I remember everybody being so scared, Where did he go? What happened?


[00:15:59.990] - Big Rich Klein

Glamis can be scary. At least you need to be able to respect it, even if you're out there all the time, because things do change.


[00:16:11.920] - Sherry Nelson

When we were going to Glamis, what would that be? That would be the north side of the road, where as you drive in from Cali, Patria into Glamis, the left side of the road there was open. And we used to sand buggy on that side, and it closed years later, but we got to go a lot more places than you can today.


[00:16:38.520] - Big Rich Klein

I can imagine it'd be a lot easier to get lost, too. Nowadays, with GPS and tracking, that's one of the things that I enjoy about the sand is that I can find my way out easily enough with my GPS.


[00:16:55.550] - Sherry Nelson

Right. Well, and today, if you break, there's 30 guys coming by in 10 minutes.


[00:17:01.440] - Big Rich Klein

True. Especially on the heavy weekends. That's very true.


[00:17:06.350] - Steve Smith

Also, when we went out, the cars that we were in, if we went 20 miles an hour, 25 miles an hour, we were going fast. And we would go from GECCO over to Gordon's Wells and back. And that took a full day to do that run. Now, you can do it in a UTV or in a sand cart. They're there and back in an hour and a half or two hours. It was a much different time because of the equipment that we had at that time.


[00:17:39.840] - Big Rich Klein

Right, exactly. I get to do it in the comfort now of air conditioning and rolled up windows.


[00:17:49.420] - Sherry Nelson

There's a lot of beer stops, I have to tell you. As a kid, there was a lot of beer stops.


[00:17:55.660] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, no doubt. No doubt. I remember growing up and I grew up in a drag racing family on pavement, and it was quite a bit the same way, except we didn't have to worry about getting lost in a drag strip. It's all right there.


[00:18:10.300] - Sherry Nelson

That's true. My dad built my sister and I our own buggy. And I think, Steve, they built you one, too. At 13, my sister was driving her own buggy behind my dad. She was always the one right behind him. But she was 13 years old. It had a little 289 Mustang engine in it, and it was a full sand car. And she was 13. And now today, that's not as big. But back then, nobody had a buggy for their kid.


[00:18:47.350] - Big Rich Klein

Right, that's true. So let's talk about Herman and the family and what he was like.


[00:18:56.980] - Sherry Nelson

Yeah. So Steve, why don't you take that one?


[00:18:59.880] - Steve Smith

Well, Herman had the personality that everybody loved this guy. He was just an outgoing guy. He would go someplace and he would know everybody, be e by the time the evening was over. He was just a lovable man. I spent a lot of time with him, and he was like my big brother. We had a lot of fun together. I learned a lot of my love for even today with my cars and the desert. I still carry that with me. It's all things that I've learned from him and being around him. An amazing engineer for a man that was not classically trained as an engineer. Absolutely amazing what he could do. He would draw a frame out on the ground, and a week later, the frame would be together and it would be would be going down the drag strip with a Thrum fuel pressure Hemi in it, whatever that... Back then, 2,000 horsepower was a lot of horsepower, but that's what he did. He built a rear engine funny car for the sand drags. And if I remember correctly, he was racing a rear engine dragster several years before Garlights built his first rear engine car.


[00:20:30.820] - Steve Smith

So he was way ahead of his time and he was very progressive thinking and just a genius of a man. Had he probably focused his attention just on one specific thing, he would have been amazingly successful, especially back then when all those big travel sand cars were coming in onto the scene. But that wasn't what he was interested in. He was interested in the sand rags and his rear engine sand buggies. That was his life.


[00:21:05.180] - Big Rich Klein

He developed special tires. I would imagine everybody was messing with that technology.


[00:21:14.410] - Steve Smith

Well, Scat Track, they're still in business. Back then, the two brothers and the dad, Ken Stewart, and I can't remember Pop Stewart's name, but they were developing that bonded paddle onto that tire. Herman worked with them on that. He wound up putting a set of duels on his sand dragster. That was the beginning of those cars that grant those duels.


[00:21:49.600] - Sherry Nelson

Let me step that back a step because Larry Miner tells the story absolutely the best. But the proof of concept on that was dad had taken a conveyor belt out of the rose business there and stitched it together. It had paddels on it that moved the roses from one place to the other. And he stitched it together, let the air out of his tire on his buggy, put the paddle conveyor belt on it, flew it up. And then like Miner said, they were all out there. There was a bunch of people all watching Stewart, everybody. And he put it in the car and punched it. And man, it threw a big rooster tail and got great traction. And then the conveyor belt flew off into the crowd. And dad, everybody's running around, everybody okay? But he said it flew it off. It was pretty magnificent when the conveyor belt flew off of the tire, but they got proof of concept out of that.


[00:22:55.340] - Big Rich Klein

That's pretty awesome. That's the stuff that just amazes me that has happened in our early sport, those kinds of experiments and stuff.


[00:23:10.300] - Steve Smith

Yeah, that's funny. I had forgotten all about that, Sherry. I remember that.


[00:23:16.670] - Steve Smith

But remember, everything that they were doing back then was in its infancy. Everything from building intake manifolds to, like Sherry said, the conveyor belt on the paddle tires. Everything was brand new. There was no off the shelf products that you could go buy.


[00:23:37.540] - Big Rich Klein

No, there wasn't. The speed shops were actually machine shops that were building the things as well.


[00:23:45.240] - Sherry Nelson

My husband, people will ask, Well, how did he drive it? What did he have to drive it? And my husband really thinks the way.


[00:23:57.690] - Sherry Nelson



[00:23:58.420] - Sherry Nelson

Turned of the rear end upside down and put a gear on it with a chain driven product was very inventive at the time and served its purpose very well. And he always thinks, your dad was pretty smart with that stuff.


[00:24:18.680] - Big Rich Klein

Right, stepping out of the box.


[00:24:20.440] - Sherry Nelson

Yeah, work with what you have is what my husband always says.


[00:24:25.960] - Steve Smith

Yeah, Rich, that car still exists. Sherry has it. And when you look at it, it has a wing. And I don't know if that wing... So he was friends with some guys at Dan Gurney, and he got a couple of wings off Indy cars. And Sherry, I don't know if the wing that's on that car was one of those wings that had been around Indianapolis. But anyway, it's his family buggy. He and his wife, he and my aunt, that's what they drove around the sand dunes. And other people look at it and go, Well, it's a dragster. Well, no, that was his family buggy. And it's very difficult for some people to comprehend that that's the man that he was.


[00:25:07.660] - Big Rich Klein

Right. And now those cars that are being built nowadays off of those early proof of concept that Herman was building is incredible. The cars that they're building out there can just go... Seems like they can go miles with just on their back tires doing wheelstands.


[00:25:28.800] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, I love that stuff they're doing today. Those guys are crazy. And the guys from Dubai, I know there's a lot of people here building the buggies for Dubai, but man, those things are crazy. They'll pull a wheelie downhill.


[00:25:44.970] - Big Rich Klein

Right. And I think those guys in Dubai, I don't think there's a vast amount of common sense with the videos I've watched. Yeah.


[00:26:00.330] - Steve Smith

I don't know that our family had a whole lot of common sense along those lines at times as well. There were some pretty funny things that were done. But the last car, or the car that Sherry has that he built, that's its rear engine, the bringing in it is upside down and backwards, and it's chain drive. It has about three inches of travel on the front end, and there's no suspension on the rear. It's a tough ride.


[00:26:29.600] - Sherry Nelson

It's great in the sand, but when you have to drive it across the desert here to get it on the trailer or something, it beats the heck out of you, man. But in the sand, it's awesome.


[00:26:40.330] - Big Rich Klein

I would imagine with paddle tires and everything, it's just like a clump, clump, clump, clump.


[00:26:44.290] - Sherry Nelson

Yeah, it's terrible. Actually, his dragster, the hot tomato was the name of it, it's still around. It's still racing in the sand, too.


[00:26:56.440] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome.


[00:26:57.990] - Big Rich Klein

It went through a lot of lot of renovations or revisions, however. But yeah, it's still out there running to this day.


[00:27:07.750] - Big Rich Klein

So let's talk about some of the stories of being out in glamorous or up in Oregon or along the Coast, PISMO or wherever sand dunes. And the things that you remember as a family, some of those family stories. I know you said, Well, maybe some of these things can't be talked about. There's a statute of limitations, except for on murder. And I don't think any of that happened out there. So we'll play it by ear and see what we can actually put in and keep in.


[00:27:43.960] - Steve Smith

I don't know if you remember this story, but there was an offroad lady, her name was Loretta Pippkin, another amazing woman, and she was selling grapple tickets to something. And there was another guy out there that bought raffle tickets. And for some reason, there was a fun rivalry between the two. And so Herman and my dad, they weren't going to buy a raffle ticket from her. They were going to buy a raffle ticket from this other guy. And she got all pissed off at him and did whatever. Well, we all were loaded up, ready to go on Sunday afternoon. And Loretta comes out there with a Saturday night special of 38 for blank. And she starts shooting that Herman and my dad.


[00:28:37.490] - Big Rich Klein

With blanks.


[00:28:39.080] - Big Rich Klein



[00:28:41.180] - Steve Smith

Mother. I can't believe you wouldn't buy a raffle ticket. You buy from that other son of a bitch. And she emptied that gun at my dad and at Herman. And we all knew about it, except my dad and Herman didn't know about it. And I can remember Herman tripping over my dad and my dad tripping over Herman to try to get out of the way because they knew they were going to die.


[00:29:02.430] - Sherry Nelson

It was crazy.


[00:29:05.480] - Big Rich Klein

That is a great story. That's the thing that... Yeah, that's a great story. That's awesome.


[00:29:16.350] - Steve Smith

Sherry, why don't you tell the story about when we went to our first time to Coos Bay with young people in an eight foot camper?


[00:29:24.290] - Sherry Nelson

Right. Yeah. Coos Bay, Oregon, I have some beautiful trophies here from them. But they actually wanted dad to come up with the sand buggies and everybody. They wanted us to come up so people could see what they were doing down south. And so we went up there. And yeah, Steve's right. The first time we went up, there was eight of us, four kids, four adults all in a little cab over camper. And we were not the best kids, obviously, fighting and this and that. And I don't know what kept them from killing us. Probably beer, because back then drinking as you drove wasn't as it is today. But that was a long trip up the Coast. I don't remember having any trouble on that one.


[00:30:19.280] - Steve Smith

Well, we did. You don't remember? So Herman put a 392 Chrysler Hemi in my dad's F 250 that had the camper shell on it, and they built a trailer that would haul two buggies. And when they got up into the any climbing, the transmission would get hot and we would stop ever so often and dump the transmission fluid out of the transmission and they put new fluid in it and off we'd go again. I think back on it, they didn't collect it, they just dumped it on the ground. Here we are in the Redwoods and they freaking change in the oil in their transmission. They just dumped it on the ground and off we go. But I remember that. I remember those stops and sometimes it was short and sometimes it was two or three hours.


[00:31:08.730] - Big Rich Klein

I can remember trips like that.


[00:31:12.030] - Sherry Nelson

I remember getting to Coos Bay, and it was such a different world. They had these dune scooters, they called them, and they were like a big army truck. 20 people would get in the back of this truck and then go, they'd take you out in the desert. Nobody had their own sand buggies. It was a weird deal. But you'd have to go through a forest. And now we're used to glamorous. You'd have to go through a forest to get to the sand and do your sand duning. And I, for some reason was riding in Cousin Steve's buggy, and his dad was looking up to make sure that the flag wasn't caught on a tree or anything. Anyway, I ran right into a tree. It's teebone the tree. It was funny. Of course, everybody had to come back and we had to strap stuff up and get it back.


[00:32:15.340] - Steve Smith

Didn't he hit it with the... Because those cars, they had duels on them. Didn't he hit it with the dual and it bent the wheels?


[00:32:21.100] - Sherry Nelson

I thought he hit it with the front of it. I thought we just impaled it. I think.


[00:32:26.520] - Steve Smith

He hit it with the duals and it bent the wheels. And again, they went back to Norm's shop and they pulled the wheels off it. And somehow they got it straightened out enough so that we could continue.


[00:32:39.300] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome.


[00:32:40.040] - Sherry Nelson

And then we'd go onto the beach at night and we'd have big clam bakes and they'd dune you out there. Like I said, we had our own buggies, but the big dune scoogers would be out there taking other tourists out there and they'd have a big clam bake right on the beach in the sand. And it's a good time. And then my other cousins, not Steve, but my other cousins, they were out running around through the woods. We were picking blackberries and making blackberry cobbler. And they got into a mattress that had a sworn of bees or beehive in it. Those bees chased those boys all the way back to camp, and they were tore up. You should have seen them. I think it was a bad deal even back then. But just kids in the forest where we've never been before, it was fun stuff.


[00:33:35.100] - Big Rich Klein

A great way to grow up, even with being chased by bees.


[00:33:40.630] - Sherry Nelson

You're right. I sent you the picture I think my dad and Steve's dad, Hal, made the first modern motor home you see today. I mean, he bought an old bread truck and Uncle Hal was an amazing woodworker. And they gutted that thing and they added it had a queen bed in the back and then a bunk over the top of it. And then it had a dinette table that you took apart and it went down into a bed where my sister slept and it had an ice box where you had to put a block of ice in it. And then it just drained out the block of ice, drained out onto the ground outside. And a little sink. And that was an awesome motor home for a lot of years. They called it the blue goose, but I think it was one of the first modern type motor homes. Don't you, Steve? Had to been.


[00:34:41.400] - Steve Smith

That had to be in the late 60s that they built that. But more importantly, it had a sound system. It had a four track stereo in it.


[00:34:52.050] - Sherry Nelson

Yes, it did. With the Beatles tape, we have the Beatles, Johnny Mathis.


[00:35:01.160] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome.


[00:35:04.910] - Big Rich Klein

As a.


[00:35:06.120] - Big Rich Klein

Business, Herman had a sand car business. He was building cars for a number of people.


[00:35:14.680] - Sherry Nelson

I wouldn't really call it a business. He would just do stuff for build buggy frames for other people. Every now and then, he'd put a whole one together. But for the most part, he would he was a welder. That's what he did. And so as a real business, a real job, he never really had that. He was modern day stay at home dad. My mom worked for a drive away company. They towed mobile homes all across the country, and she would route it them. And dad just made a little money here and there doing mechanic work and stuff. He was a shade tree mechanic, was what he did. And he built trains for a lot of people. Like I said, early in the valley is where we did most of our work. Larry Miner was one of the bigger ones that would come over and they'd do stuff together. And dad would help him. He'd obviously help my dad. So yeah, that was my early life there. So then.


[00:36:27.110] - Big Rich Klein

He also did some mechanic work for Larry Miner and Roger Meares, correct? When they were racing the Mexican, what was Nora?


[00:36:39.620] - Sherry Nelson

Yeah. So I love the story my dad tells of this one. I think it was Isusu. They were running an Isusu at the time. Anyway, they had a helicopter at the time that they picked my... The car had trouble. They picked my dad up wherever he was, at whatever pit he was. They flew him over to where the car was broken. He got out of the helicopter, ran over, threw open the hood. The two drivers are in it. He's trying to figure out what happened. So he grabs the spark plug wires and he says, Turn it over. And they turned it over and it shocks him. So, okay, it's not that. So he figures that out. But his adrenaline was pumping so hard and so fast that he needed to fix it fast. And he got a helicopter ride to it. Today, I don't think they allow stuff like that, but back then they did. And he fixed it, and down the road they went. I think they actually maybe had won that in their class with that Isusu that time.


[00:37:49.970] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome.


[00:37:52.190] - Big Rich Klein



[00:37:53.120] - Big Rich Klein

Steve, did you work do any of the desert stuff with him?


[00:37:57.800] - Steve Smith

No. Most of the stuff that I did was all the sand. And when he was building stuff in the shop, by the time he started doing the nor the score, whatever it was back then, I was a young man and I was off on my own ventures.


[00:38:18.110] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And what do you guys remember of the off road stuff that he did? Any stories, other stories besides the helicopter ride out?


[00:38:29.600] - Sherry Nelson

No, I don't really remember a lot. Like Steve said, at that point, we were becoming young adults and trying to do our own thing. So I just don't remember a ton of it. I remember people coming to the yard, him working on their cars, doing a lot of welding, and little stuff like that. But as far as any real innovation or anything as off road goes, no, I don't remember him being that into it. He was a sand guy. That's what he loved. He trickled over just because, like I said, Miner asked him and they were buddies, so he'd do it. But it wasn't a passion for him.


[00:39:15.720] - Big Rich Klein

Not like the sand is or what?


[00:39:18.020] - Big Rich Klein

Not like sand.


[00:39:18.990] - Steve Smith

One thing that I do remember, and Sherry, you might be able to help me with this is, he became certified to weld on aircraft, and he was building landing gears for a company out of Riverside. Stardust or something like that sticks in my mind, but I can't remember exactly what it was. But I know he was pretty excited that he got to do that. I don't know how many he built, maybe a couple of dozen. But that's how talented of a welder he was at that time, because at that time it was just oxygen and settling and rod. There was no tig, there was no wire feed. It was just pure skill to be able to do that. I know he was pretty proud of to have that accomplishment under his belt.


[00:40:09.340] - Sherry Nelson

Yeah, the Fly Bob airport sounds familiar to Stardesk Corporation by the Fly Bob airport. Yeah, vaguely remember that. On some of his racing, though, I've stepped back into the sand racing where he's actually racing a little. Those were really good times because we were able to do that as a family. Uncle Hal was the announcer. All my cousins were at the races. Hank Ecker, he was racing cars, too. That was a funny car dad built for Hank Ecker. He was always the dragsters. I'll still remember one of my favorite memories there was my dad. There's two different memories. So my dad would run the car and he took off and made an awesome run. And I heard we see stuff flying off the car again. This is at a sanction event. There's people in the sand, a lot of people in parts start flying off the car. I think the clutch went out of it. And my dad gets out of the car and he's running through the crowd trying to make sure that nobody got hit. And my uncle, Steve's dad, he's the announcer, and he's screaming for my dad, Herman, step back out onto the track so we know you're okay.


[00:41:40.370] - Sherry Nelson

And I can still hear the stress in my uncle's voice because they got down to the car and my dad wasn't in it. And they're trying to find him. And finally, finally, he runs back out onto the track. So we see him. And then he continues on making sure nobody got hit by the pieces. Then soon after that, they came up with the scatter shields and stuff. Simpson, I think, helped them build something to hold the pieces in, or they adapted it from real drag racing, I'm not sure. But after that, they had those scatter shields.


[00:42:20.510] - Big Rich Klein

That was huge. That's why Gartlitz went with a rear engine instead of the front engine. It's after he lost part of his foot. Right.


[00:42:32.480] - Steve Smith

That was the rear engine car that that clutch came out of. But I remember that. I remember I was at the starting line and the clutch came apart and the pieces went everywhere and people are just sitting there watching it come at them. But after it was all over, I don't remember if he had to make a... If it was a single to win the $250 or whatever the first was, but in order for him to claim his first, he had to push that car across the finish line. Oh, wow.


[00:43:04.710] - Big Rich Klein



[00:43:05.210] - Steve Smith

He did. So he made it. It probably went maybe 50 yards before it stopped. And so he had to push that car in the sand that 50 yards or whatever was remaining for him to win the purse that day. Wow.


[00:43:20.320] - Sherry Nelson

And I have the picture of Cousin Steve standing right beside my dad because nobody could touch the car. But they were right beside him egging him on. And I have a picture of Cousin Steve standing beside him just laughing his ass off as my dad's there, one paddle at a time rolling the car across the finish line. I can't.


[00:43:48.260] - Big Rich Klein

Imagine how difficult that would have been.


[00:43:50.940] - Sherry Nelson

Yeah. Well, it took him a while. He'd roll it and stop and chitchat. And everybody standing in the stands happened to watch him push the car over the finish line. But that was one of our better memories. And like I said, I have that great picture of Steve being so supportive.


[00:44:10.530] - Steve Smith

He would have done the same for me. He would have done the same for me. And he did. He left me a lot. That's awesome.


[00:44:18.350] - Sherry Nelson

Also, as a kid, I got to ride in the car back. And I'm sure you're a dragster person, so you probably were sat in the car to steer it back, although you couldn't steer it because they were pulling you. But they put me in the car. Anyway, we were in the old station wagon, like a 1960 something station wagon. And you know how you pull up? They pull up to the line and they take off. Well, we had this girl, her name was Sherri Balch, and she was driving the car to go get my dad after he made his run. And I swear to God, she left the line when the light turned green. And I think she was halfway down the track beside my dad in the old station wagon with ten kids hanging out of it. I still remember that going, We're going to beat them to the head. It was funny.


[00:45:13.800] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. That's awesome. Good times. Besides Glamis, where did the family spend most of the time?


[00:45:25.640] - Sherry Nelson

Glamis was a big one because my grandparents were right there in Calipatria, and so we'd stop and see them and go. But we went... Du Mont Dunes was really big. And then Kelso was great until they closed it down for us. But Kelso and Du Mont Dunes were two more. But like I said, we went up to Coos Bay for racing. We went to Tuscon a lot. There was a sand racing track out in the Tuscon area. Pismo, quite a bit out at PISMO. I'm not sure. I don't remember the Dunes at PISMO so much. I just remember if we didn't get back to camp before the tide came up, we were in a lot of trouble. I remember being pulled through the tide because we didn't know. They'd hook a rope up to us to get us across where the water came up too high. It's a big production trying to... When you messed up. So how.


[00:46:36.050] - Big Rich Klein

Long did Herman continue to do sand cars?


[00:46:42.500] - Sherry Nelson

Boy, I mean, he died when he died. I mean, he still had sand cars. So he maybe only went out once a year at best. But he tell the day, Dad, like I said, I've got one of his sand cars in my garage. I think the last time he redid it was in the 90s, was probably the last time he upgraded whatever he chose to do on it. It was probably the 90s.


[00:47:14.220] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, and what year did Herman pass?


[00:47:18.960] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, man. 15 years ago?


[00:47:24.340] - Big Rich Klein



[00:47:25.150] - Sherry Nelson

2004, maybe. Maybe '22.


[00:47:29.120] - Big Rich Klein

All right. And your mom, what about their relationship? I would imagine it was probably pretty strong.


[00:47:39.900] - Sherry Nelson

Well, my dad was a big man, right? Bigger than life. And mom was very meek and quiet. And she was there. She was very supportive. But I never pictured her as the main character in our events. Dad was always the main character. Steve's dad, Uncle How was the main character. The wives melted in the background. Loretta Pipkin, though, she was the main character. And she was a great one to show us that women are just as tough as men. Shirley Moldowning type woman. And so, yeah, my mom, she was very supportive of him. Like I said, she went to work, basically was the breadwinner for our family, really. I mean, dad's money, he just put it back on sand buggies and fun stuff. But every weekend we were as kids growing up, and that's why I feel bad. I never had children, but I would have never been able to give them the childhood I had because we were at Glamis or if not, he had a really hot boat. It was a pickle fork with the engine was so fricking big, you couldn't even see the boat because the engine was so big. And we'd go out to Havassu and fly across the lake at God only knows what speeds we were going at back then.


[00:49:22.250] - Sherry Nelson

So we just did a lot. We were gone every weekend. Mom was right there supporting them. Monday she'd go to work and make sure the bills were paid and the rent was done. But dad was really all about the fun and motorsports and what could we do and what were we going to do? And and we'd go out to the wash out here every weekend and run quads or three wheelers when they came out. We had to have one. It's just all about having a good time and not so much about making a living. We just survived and spent all our money went back into having a good time. There was no retirement thought of.


[00:50:13.260] - Big Rich Klein

What traits do you think that Herman passed on to you?


[00:50:20.890] - Sherry Nelson

I have to tell you, my dad, because he was a bigger man, and so he was a shade tree mechanic, and so he couldn't get into places. So early on, I was the one in there getting my hand to get the bolts, the nut started because my hands were thinner. So I was out in the garage with him all the time. So I knew wrenches. And I'll never forget, I got my first job at Deutsche, where I ended up being the plant manager later in my life. And I had a 1,000 people working for me at one point. I'll never forget I started that job, and they're like, You're handing me a 9 16. So I reached into the pile and I handed the guy a 9 16. And then he said, I want a three quarter now. And I reached in the pile and I handed the guy the three quarter, and I'm not even looking at him. I'm just handing him the wrenches. And he stops and he turns and he looks at me and he said, How do you know what sizes those are? And I said, well, I helped my dad.


[00:51:27.660] - Sherry Nelson

I rebuilt my old car and I know what sizes they are. And so he was a set up man. So he ran and told the boss. And so he ran and told the boss. Here comes the boss, What do you know about mechanic work? I was like, Well, I know themselves. So they made me a set up person that changed these cam operated machines that day. And then I just went up and up and up in the company. But had I not had that mechanical background, I don't know that I ever would have been noticed and would have had those opportunities that eventually led me to... Like I said, I had three plants under me at one time. So I take that and just that work ethic of you have to get it done. It's got to be right. When you get back, you have to clean it. Cleaning is the most important thing you can do for your buggy or whatever to get the sand out of bad spots or whatever. And so I learned that from him. And that really helped me going forward in my career because most of the problems that I worked on, that's all I needed to do was clean it and put it back together and it ran.


[00:52:46.490] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. And Steve, what about yourself?


[00:52:50.180] - Steve Smith

I think what I took from Uncle Hermann was, don't be afraid to try anything, whether it's taking the transmission apart or learning how to FAB something up, whether it's an English wheel or whatever, don't be afraid. Grab it and go for it. What's the worst that's going to happen? It's not going to work. So you figure out what you did wrong and you fix it.


[00:53:19.800] - Big Rich Klein

What do you think Herman's legacy is to offroad? Well, I think.


[00:53:29.690] - Steve Smith

Unfortunately, I think that he flies under the weather. I don't believe there are a lot of people that know what his contributions were. A lot of the modern sand cars all were spawned from his ideas early in the days back when we were just having fun, going out the to Glamis. He just wanted to have something that was different than everybody else. That was unique. I think that if everybody knew where this whole thing started, because it really... The water pumpers, the V8 started with Herman and the tubular chassis. Back then, there were some V8s out there, but they were all a 1960 Chevy Bel Air or whatever that somebody took the body off and then threw some seats on and that was it. But he just took it from there and just kept refining it and refining it to get where he eventually was when he started slowing down. I have.


[00:54:42.970] - Sherry Nelson

To dive in a little. We were at Idaho Dunes. Those Dunes, if you've never been, are humongous. So we just went there a few years ago, my husband and I. And there's a guy there with an old water pump er. And so I was dark purple. And I walked over and I say, Oh, man, my childhood. Wow, this is great. And the guy's talking about, Oh, I have to get the glamas someday in my life. And I'm like, Oh, yeah. My dad's in. He's in the offroad hall of fame. And what's your dad's name? Herman Booy. What? So I was very surprised. This guy was young. I was very surprised that this guy knew who my dad was. Obviously, he really liked vintage buggies and he had done his homework, but he couldn't have been 35. I was really surprised that somebody knew who he was.


[00:55:47.660] - Big Rich Klein

There's the legacy right there.


[00:55:50.870] - Big Rich Klein

There's the legacy.


[00:55:52.460] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. Any of us that are in this industry and have been in it for a while, that's what we hope to achieve is that we bring something to the table that will continue on and people can build from there. And it sounds like that's what Herman did.


[00:56:12.660] - Sherry Nelson

Yeah, it was good stuff. And he introduced me to my husband because of the off road John Nelson and the off road stuff. And so there's that. Good job, dad. There you go.


[00:56:33.790] - Big Rich Klein



[00:56:34.360] - Sherry Nelson

Everybody in town, he knew everybody. That's great.


[00:56:40.180] - Big Rich Klein

Is there any other stories you want to share? It'd be.


[00:56:44.390] - Sherry Nelson

Interesting that people from not the local area would actually come to the house and pick my dad's brain for stuff. Edna North and Steve, the guy who had the plastic face or Steve, do you remember his name? No? Anyway, these guys would come from all over to the house there, pick my dad's brain. And I just thought that was very interesting why these guys came to the house. And they'd spend two days at the house with my dad out in the shop, and they'd bring their own buggies and stuff and stay in their own campers. But our house was the hype of activity. There were people coming and going all the time. There were friends coming over, hanging out in the shop, drinking beer, developing whatever was next. And it was a good life. And I'm sure a lot of kids could say the same. I talked to my nieces for everything John Nelson did. And that's what they all remember is everybody being around and working as a group to get the race going. That's what we all remember. You yourself, Rich, I'm sure you remember your dad getting ready for the race track.


[00:58:20.730] - Big Rich Klein

And those are memories that I hope kids today have those also. I agree.


[00:58:27.490] - Big Rich Klein

I hope they can find those memories as well. I want to say thank you guys so much for taking the time and talking about Herman and the family and everything that was involved in his life and to getting him into the offroad motorsports hall of fame. I really appreciate the time that you guys took today. Thank you. All right.


[00:58:54.510] - Sherry Nelson

We appreciate you. Thank you again, Rich.


[00:58:57.700] - Big Rich Klein

I will let you know when this is going to air, and I hope you enjoy it. All right, Sherry and Steve, thank you so much. Thank you, Rich.


[00:59:07.260] - Sherry Nelson

Hope to see you soon. Okay. Bye bye.


[00:59:10.100] - Big Rich Klein



[00:59:11.020] - Big Rich Klein

Well, that's another.


[00:59:12.080] - Big Rich Klein

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 happen 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 would 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.