Ron Bishop was a great and fun man to be with, and he was truly an Iron Man both on and off motorcycles. Ron leaves a legacy of off-road motorcycle racing achievements that may never be equaled. Ron’s crowning success was that he is the only off-road motorcycle racer to have competed in the first 40 Baja 1000 races, beginning in 1967 with the NORRA Inaugural Mexican 1000 and continuing through 2007 where he was the Grand Marshall and a race competitor in SCORE’s 40th Anniversary running of the Baja 1000.Ron was truly admired by many friends and fellow competitors.
Ron Bishop was born in Woodland, Washington in March of 1943. His family moved to Southern California when he was 10 and settled in Escondido. The area was a hotbed of off-road motorcycling and most of Ron’s friends had motorcycles. His first ride was a Cushman Eagle scooter, which he naturally took off-road. He rapidly moved from the scooter to a Mustang and eventually to what he called his first real motorcycle — a Zundapp 250cc Super Sabre. His racing spanned the era from the earliest scrambles and enduro bikes in 1960 to modern era four strokes. He came from an era when the International Six-Day Trials (ISDT) and Baja races were far more difficult events to qualify for, compete in and finish. Ron was a longtime competitor and two-time overall winner of the Tecate Enduro, as well as long gone races such as the TecateGran Prix. Most of his time was spent competing on Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Rokon and KTM motorcycles. Ron was selected to represent the U.S. at the ISDT competitions held in Dalton, Massachusetts in 1973 and Berkshire, England in 1976. Amazingly, Ron accomplished all the these feats while also competing in 27 Baja 500’s, numerous Mint 400’s and Mexicali/San Felipe 250/300 races. Ron also competed in the early Los Ancianos Tecate enduros from 1973 until 1990 where he trophied many times and won overall twice. After preparing for and running these exhausting races, Ron would often retreat to his house in Gonzaga Bay to enjoy well-earned R&R time and Bench Racing with other “retired” Baja race veterans.
In 1980, with support from his long-time friend Don Graves, Ron founded and operated Ron BishopMotorcycles in Escondido. At this classic motorcycle shop, Ron mentored many aspiring off-road racers and assisted fellow racing competitors to organize support teams, prepare themselves and set-up their machines. Ron truly epitomized the old saying “To finish first, first you have to finish”. He was a gifted motorcycle mechanic who excelled at detail-oriented race bike preparation, and is credited with pioneering the development of what are now today’s high-intensity off-road lighting systems for competition motorcycles and ATVs, as well as the first high-volume plastic fuel tanks now used for competition.
Ron was an avid story teller with an amazing recollection of virtually every race run in Baja. Ron, with the help of his friend Dale Johnson, catalogued and preserved one of the best Baja race memorabilia collections in existence today. Ron was inducted into the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Hall of Fame in 2001 and later into the Horse Power Ranch Baja 500 Hall of Fame, and the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHOF). Ron will also be inducted as planned into the Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2015. The Los Ancianos M/C will dedicate the December 6, 2014 running of the Tecate Enduro to the memory of Ron Bishop.
Ron had a good ride and gave his all to the off-road motorcycling community and the sport. We will miss him mucho. Godspeed RB. We will see you down the trail somewhere in Baja.