This past weekend at The Off-Road Nationals in Wickenburg, AZ, we had the chance to sit down with co-owners Liz Marshall and Donald and Kristy Jackson of the newly founded Legacy Racing Association to ask them a few questions about their past, and what exactly their new venture holds for the future of long distance off-road racing in the United States.
The true value of any legacy is not only that it continues to live, but also in the gifts bestowed to the people it reaches. These gifts aren’t always materialistic, they can be anything, as what one person cherishes can differ from another. But when a legacy connects more than just a few individuals, it is truly a wonderful gift. Casey Folks, founder of Best in the Desert, left behind an incredible legacy. His brand is synonymous with desert racing, but the wisdom and passion he passed down are also a very big part of what Casey left behind. Casey’s legacy still flourishes in Donald Jackson and Liz Marshall. Working side by side for well over a decade, these two poured their hearts and souls into playing pivotal roles ensuring that BITD would be a home for racers for decades to come, even after Casey’s passing.
January of 2017 brought a devastating blow to the off-road community. The loss of Casey was felt by everyone in the industry. Both Donald and Liz were deeply affected by this event, “He wasn’t just the guy that signed my paycheck, he was one of my best friends,” said Donald, after working side-by-side with Casey for thirteen years. Liz, who retired from BITD two weeks earlier to be a stay-at-home mom, responded immediately to a phone call from Donald in that desperate time of need by dropping everything to drive to Parker, and they’ve been an inseparable duo ever since. With the support of Casey’s sons, Donald, Liz, and the full staff of BITD volunteers decided to make the 2017 season happen in a bid to completely fulfill the commitments of their dear friend.
As the years passed and the races continued, there were some struggles between Liz and Donald, and Casey’s sons, who became the new owners of BITD. Donald had offered to buy BITD several times but to no avail. After mounting tensions, Liz and Donald, with the full support of Donald’s wife Kristy, decided it was time to resign from their roles at BITD, acquire normal full-time jobs to pay the bills for now, and together they’ve been working literally around the clock to launch the all-new Legacy Racing Association. With the 2021 schedule already on the calendar, Legacy Racing Association wants to let racers know that they now have another multi-race championship where they can participate in long distance desert races, in a safe and family oriented format.
With seventeen years of experience as Casey’s right-hand man, Donald attributed a lot of the past success to the volunteers that helped put these races on. “These volunteers love the sport and racers as much as we do. We love the help and need the help, but I won’t make them choose between us and Best in the Desert,” says Donald. “I hope that they support us and BITD.” Being the former number two at BITD before becoming the head of race operations, Donald knows every detail that is required to put on a successful race, and he will bring the years of experience to this new home that’s been built on a strong foundation.
Speaking of foundation, a common way to get into desert racing is marrying into it. That’s how Kristy Jackson got started. Volunteering her time at races while Donald would work them, she saw the passion he had for the sport and it wore off on her. She volunteered in the office to help Liz and did whatever was asked of her, and is now committed, as partner, to helping make Legacy Racing Association a true success.
When Liz started at BITD in 2009, it was as a part-time office helper. A quick study, she grew swiftly into a full-time role. Eleven years later, she is taking everything she learned and the relationships created and continuing her role as Events Director. “The racing community is a family. It was amazing to see the outpouring of love and support that everyone has had for us. It made the stress of this last year worth it,” stated Liz. Liz has done an amazing job curating relationships with racers, media, and sponsors, and is now looking to set a new standard with what they expect out of a race organization.
Liz, Donald, and Kristy have built this racing organization on a strong foundation thanks to Casey Folks, and will continue to put on the best races they can, while knowing that the racers, the sponsors, the volunteers, and the spectators come before they do. They may not be behind the wheel, but the passion these three have for the sport of desert racing is second to none.
With everything they’ve gone through, we asked why start over with what must be the most difficult job in long distance off-road racing (organizing a series of races), and the response from Donald was, “Using the Youth Race today as an example, every time this kid came around and finished a lap, you could see the grin on his face from how much fun he was having. He was not the fastest competitor, and he was not in the best equipment, but he was having the time of his life. Through Jason’s event, we were able to help make that kid’s dream come to fruition and let him have this time of his life, and to see that raw emotion of how excited he is to be participating is really what drives us to move forward. The racer support, the volunteer support, and the staff support all push us to do what we do.”
Race day isn’t the challenging part, it’s a reward for the months of hard work and preparation. For drivers, pit crew, volunteers, or race organizers, the passion for desert racing drives you to get to the start line time after time. The prior race could have gone horribly wrong, but once racing is in your veins, you will do whatever it takes to get back to the start line with the hope of seeing the checkered flag. Legacy Racing Association has the experience needed to create the best races possible in the United States. We look forward to watching them grow, and we are chomping at the bit for their first race in Pahrump, NV. Keep an eye out, we’ll be helping to share any new information that is released, and follow along with Legacy Racing Association on Instagram and Facebook!
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