This is a must-listen episode! Clay Egan was paralyzed at age 22; started rockcrawling at age 32; became a full-time motivational speaker at age 37. If you’ve ever struggled with life, with circumstances, with your future, this is one episode you need to hear. The power of prayer, positivity, and healing is strong with this one.
3:20 – Utah, the most amazing state on the planet
7:44 – Let’s talk about the accident
11:15 – good enough that I’ve been able to be fully independent as a C6 quadriplegic
13:32 – the physical pain and trauma was so bad, I just wanted to feel better
15:18 – it wasn’t that bad mentally because of my back story
19:23 – construction was my thing
21:47 – my rockcrawling start
29:45 – my final rockcrawling competition
31:43 – KOH 2009
33:39 – I made a deal with God
36:13 – I started speaking all over the country
“my good attitude has been my meal ticket everywhere, it’s been the key t my success. You know, we all have stuff we deal with in life, we all have challenges, whether it be financial challenges, our jobs, marital challenges, loss of a child, divorce, whatever it is, we all have those obstacles to overcome and they suck when we’re in it. But what I’ve learned through all of mine is if you can find just one good thing in that bad experience – you grow, you learn, you go forward a better person.”
41:40 – I retired from speaking in 2017
44:38 – I have always been blessed with the best of friends
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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[00:00:01.050] - Big Rich Klein
Welcome to the Big Rich show, this podcast will focus on conversations with friends and acquaintances within the four wheel drive industry. Many of the people that I will be interviewing, you may know the name, you may know some of the history, but let's get in depth with these people and find out what truly makes them a four wheel drive enthusiast. So now's the time to sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation.
[00:00:29.500] - Speaker 2
Whether you're crawling the Red Rocks of Moab or hauling your toys to the trail Maxxis has the tires, you can trust your 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.
[00:00:56.050] - Big Rich Klein
Why should you read 4Low magazine, because 4Low magazine is about your lifestyle, the Four-Wheel Drive adventure lifestyle that we all enjoy, rock crawling, trail riding, event coverage, vehicle builds and do it yourself tech all in a beautifully presented package. You won't find 4Low on a newsstand rack. So subscribe today and have it delivered to you.
[00:01:20.500] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Clay Egan. For those of you that are new to Off-Road Motor Sports and Rock Crawling, you may not know who Clay is, but if you've watched any of the old videos from the early days of UROC and ARCA and some WE Rock, you will see Clay.
[00:01:38.800] - Big Rich Klein
He was in a used to compete in an XJ that had some diamond plate on it and was yellow. And Clay is is a very motivational person. He's done motivational speaking and he competed as a quadriplegic. And Clay has got about the best attitude of any person I've ever met. And Clay, I want to say thank you for coming on board and joining us today.
[00:02:05.240] - Clay Egan
Well, thanks for having me. You know, it's it's been a been quite a while since, you know, I've had a lot of interaction with anybody in the offroad community. And, you know, it's it's nice to know that I haven't been forgotten. So I appreciate it.
[00:02:19.010] - Big Rich Klein
Absolutely. You'll never be forgotten, at least with us old school guys. All right. So let's let's jump right into it and let's talk about where you grew up and where you were born and what your early years were like.
[00:02:33.260] - Clay Egan
Well, early years, first memories were Galveston, Texas down there and the kind of the south and and, you know, just grew up loving the outdoors and, you know, spending a lot of time in the sticks. And my dad's job kind of moved us around a lot. And so I, you know, spent some time in Utah and then quite a few years in Sacramento and then back to Utah and and, you know, I call Utah home.
[00:03:00.830] - Clay Egan
But, you know, that's that's kind of where where I grew to love the outdoors, love motor sports. And, you know, and that's really where I. I got into stuff.
[00:03:11.790] - Big Rich Klein
Right. There's a lot of open, open area in Utah so that there was a lot of opportunity to get to get off road and outdoors.
[00:03:20.240] - Clay Egan
You know, I mean, honestly, it's to me, it's it's the most amazing state on the planet. I mean, you have everything from rock crawlin to desert to hunting, fishing, lakes, boating, sand dunes. I mean, whatever your whatever your passion is, we've got it right here. So close. I mean, it's just been it's been so much fun being able to to call this home.
[00:03:47.630] - Big Rich Klein
So how long were you in the Galveston area up to.
[00:03:52.160] - Clay Egan
I was there till I was five.
[00:03:53.900] - Big Rich Klein
OK, five. So you probably don't have a whole lot of memory of that.
[00:03:57.080] - Clay Egan
Well, you know, being that I moved around a lot, my in my brain, everything is segmented by places I lived in. So I actually do have quite a bit of memories down there. And and so, you know, and and, you know, throughout the other Sacramento and and being in Utah, lots of lots of just great memories.
[00:04:19.940] - Big Rich Klein
And what time period in your life were you in Sacramento?
[00:04:23.750] - Clay Egan
So I was there from seventy eight to eighty five. OK, so from about the time I was seven until I was 14.
[00:04:32.690] - Big Rich Klein
OK, I lived in Placerville, California during the during the 80s and 90s, very, very familiar with Placerville, did some of my funnest Boy Scout camp outs up there and you know, just love that area.
[00:04:48.750] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. It's a great area. So let's let's get into some of those those early year activities, did you ride motorcycles? Did you hike? I mean, what was the what was what was the gig?
[00:05:03.780] - Clay Egan
Yeah. You know, I mean, I always got of kind of into the action sports. I mean, started off, you know, and BMX and then move to dirt bikes. And then, you know, by the time I turned about 16, got into high school, then I was racing motocross and and, you know, spending a lot of time riding out in the desert and and, you know, and then my family was very, you know, very involved in the outdoors with hunting and fishing.
[00:05:31.710] - Clay Egan
And so, you know, during during hunting season, you know, I was I was in the mountains, you know, chasing deer or elk or, you know, whatever it was. But as far as as far as the motor sports go and I mean, it was always definitely dirt bikes.
[00:05:47.000] - Big Rich Klein
OK, so in school, were you did you play sports or were you more of an after school kind of guy and getting out of, you know, doing your own thing or scholastic or.
[00:05:59.610] - Clay Egan
Yeah. You know. No, I definitely definitely wasn't Scholastic, man. I was one of those dudes out in the parking lot with the bong, you know, getting to trouble with my with my dirt bike, you know, on the back of the trailer being towed by a nineteen eighty one Buick Regal there. So, you know, that was kind of my after school activities, you know. I mean, I did I can't tell you how many times I towed my bike to school and then, you know, snuck out early and went, went riding.
[00:06:27.070] - Clay Egan
But, you know, as junior and senior year, I kind of straightened up a little bit and and, you know, got got on the wrestling team and, you know, and wrestled and, you know, so I did it all. I was very active, very active kid.
[00:06:44.250] - Big Rich Klein
Well, cool. So what was your motorcycle of choice growing up?
[00:06:48.510] - Clay Egan
You know what it was? My YZ 125. I had a nineteen eighty five YZ125. That was, that was what I started racing. The very first dirt bike I got was a an old seventy eight R.M. one hundred. And you know that's where I, where I learned to ride and, and grew to love the power band of the old Two-stroke Motors and you know and then got into. Got into, you know, moved up to the one twenty five and then sold that just out of high school and and the year, the year that I had my accident, I was actually I'd switch to racing quads and was racing in our local series, our local motocross series on a on a Yamaha Banshee.
[00:07:34.910] - Clay Egan
[00:07:36.260] - Big Rich Klein
So let's let's talk about about that accident, if you don't mind, and what what the circumstances were.
[00:07:44.480] - Clay Egan
Sure. So it was I mean, it's coming up on twenty seven years on June 1st. So it was June 1st. Nineteen ninety four. And I was you know, I was working construction during the days. I was working at a friend's motorcycle shop at night and then I was racing on the weekends and it was the it was the week after Memorial Day weekend and my one of my cousins called me and he's like, look, your brother's borrowed one of my dirt bikes over the weekend and they didn't bring it back to me.
[00:08:24.890] - Clay Egan
And I kind of need it for, you know, something I've got coming up. And he said, Do you think you can help me out and, you know, go up and get your bike and or his bike and bring it back to him? And so what my brothers had done is they borrowed his bike to take my nieces and nephews for rides up at our cabin over that Memorial Day weekend. And then they left it up there and then they were both out of town for business.
[00:08:48.530] - Clay Egan
And long story short, I'm the one that got stuck into going up and getting that. And so I grabbed my girlfriend and hopped in my truck and and we headed up and into the mountains here in eastern Utah and a little town called Samak, which is right at the base of the Uinta mountains, and got up there, got my cousin's bike, and my girlfriend hopped in the seat of my truck and I hopped on the bike and I proceeded to take it, you know, drive it down the mountain road.
[00:09:17.900] - Clay Egan
And as I was going down that that main mountain road late that night, I ran into a stray horse. Oh, and so, yeah. So I mean, it's pitch black like eleven, eleven thirty at night. And I'm cruising along and there was a couple of horses that had gotten out of one of the rancher's stables up there and we're loose on the road. And I ran into one. Wow.
[00:09:41.600] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. I knew it was something to do with the motorcycle. I did not realize it was hitting livestock and especially big livestock.
[00:09:50.270] - Clay Egan
Well yeah, yeah, yeah. It was like running into a brick wall, man. I mean, the horse won. Yeah. You know, from what I was told, the horse kept running and my girlfriend luckily at the time was, was in the nursing field and and she literally saved my life that night. But, you know, she told us later that, you know, the horses just kept running down the road and and, you know, she came up on me and, you know, I was face down on the road.
[00:10:15.950] - Clay Egan
I was bleeding from my head and my face and and I was unconscious. And she literally saved my life that night.
[00:10:23.690] - Big Rich Klein
So the injury that you have. Where is that located in your in your spinal column?
[00:10:31.060] - Clay Egan
So, yeah, so I'm with what's called a C6 quadriplegic, so the first seven vertebrae. So from your skull down to the seventh vertebrae is called your cervical vertebrae. And any kind of break or damage in there is in the quadriplegia range. And that after years, your C7, which is your seventh cervical vertebrae, then you start your thoracic vertebrae and that goes T1 on down to T12 and anything below T1 on down is considered paraplegia. And so, you know, I'm paralyzed in all four limbs, you know, I'm paralyzed from literally the armpits down.
[00:11:15.040] - Clay Egan
Even the backs of my arms are numb. I don't have full sensation and I don't have full function of my my fingers and my hands. I am actually what's called a high class quad, meaning that I function more like a paraplegic because I do have some finger and hand use. They're not great. But you know what? They're good enough to get the job done. They're good enough that I've been able to be fully independent. And, you know, it is what it is.
[00:11:48.040] - Clay Egan
So I you know, I'm very blessed that they're as bad as they are, if that makes sense. Right.
[00:11:55.420] - Big Rich Klein
So if you don't mind, let's let's talk about some of the. The the anguish that you must have gone through. And, you know, every time I've met you and we've been we've been around each other, which has been on quite a few occasions at competitions especially, you've always you've always displayed such a great attitude and. Was that was that difficult to come to or would you know what was the. Was it a struggle?
[00:12:28.560] - Clay Egan
Well, you know, it's kind of funny. And I mean, so from the night that I had my accident, they they life-flighted me from up there on the mountain up to the University of Utah Medical Center. And, you know, for the first six weeks that I was there, I was fed through a tube, through my nose. And, you know, in the early days, you know, I didn't know if I was going to live or die and I was that bad off.
[00:12:56.580] - Clay Egan
And so, you know, literally for the first six weeks, I never cared if I ever walked again. I just wanted to feel better. I mean, I physically just felt so bad and was so sick, which is the trauma to my body. I mean, I cracked my skull and broke my cheek and and, you know, I was just I was just messed up. Right. And and so, you know, the early days, I don't ever remember laying there, feeling sorry for myself, feeling sad, feeling down.
[00:13:32.090] - Clay Egan
It was just the physical pain and trauma was so bad. I just I wanted to feel better whether I was going to die. And, you know, I obviously would felt better if that happened or just if I if my, you know, God's plan was for me to live, you know, I just wanted to be able to feel better. And so after my body finally started healing and I got that feeder tube out of my nose and, you know, I was able to eat and drink on my own and stuff, my strength slowly came and I did I was so excited to just honestly be alive and to just start feeling better that I don't remember ever feeling sad or feeling down about it.
[00:14:18.790] - Clay Egan
I mean, I had great support from friends and family. You know, you've met one of my very best friends, Tyler Quinn. And I mean, Tyler was there from the second I got hurt. And I mean, literally for the first month, he was there every single day. And, you know, it was a 40 minute drive, one way for him to come see me. So, I mean, you know, I had amazing, amazing support.
[00:14:46.680] - Clay Egan
And so, you know, it just it honestly, it was not that big a deal mentally and emotionally for me. It was definitely more of a physical challenge in those beginning years. And so, you know, back to your question. I mean, people ask me all the time, how did you stay positive? Well, then I kind of have to go back a number of years later and kind of explain the back story before my before my accident of what I grew up with at home.
[00:15:18.750] - Clay Egan
And and that is my father. I mean, he's or he was a Korean War vet. Very hardcore, very disciplinary. And but he suffered from the most debilitating, horrible depression and mental illness that you could ever, ever imagine. So, you know, you think of people, you know, you see in the movies in a straight jacket behind a glass window. You know, that was my dad. And that's that's how I grew up.
[00:15:47.700] - Clay Egan
And so home was for me. It's own prison, you know. I mean, I was taking care of my dad from, like, you know, 14, 15 years old on. And he was in and out of mental institutions. He was, you know, a horrible cutter. His mental pain was so bad that he used to cut himself and and hurt himself. And he was suicidal and he was constantly being taken from home. And so, you know, when you're when you're 15, 16, you know, your dad's supposed to be your hero.
[00:16:20.550] - Clay Egan
He's supposed to be there for you, supposed to be your best friend. And, dude, it was it was Mr. Hyde, you know, and the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde version. Right. And and so, you know, it was it was bad. And so, you know, I started doing drugs really early on. And that's how I, you know, I coped with life. That's how I dealt with stuff back then. You know, I was raised not to complain, just, you know, not not to show weakness, if you will.
[00:16:49.110] - Clay Egan
Right. And and so, you know, I did, but I did it through, you know, hiding that pain and my own inner turmoil with doing drugs and and then to the point where when I was twenty one, I hit the bottom and and tried to take my own life and and my life was was a complete disaster. And so I, I got checked into rehab and, you know, got cleaned up, sober-wise and. Decided from that day forward that, you know, I have a choice, I can go through life and blame my dad for all my problems and misery, or I can choose to, you know, be happy and move forward and be a productive, positive member of society.
[00:17:39.170] - Clay Egan
Right. And so, anyways, long story short, almost a year later, after I turned my life around, I had my accident. And so when people say, how did you get through your accident? And I share a little bit about that past. My accident was a piece of cake compared to the way I was grown, the way I I grew up. So that's that's kind of that that deep story to how I got through it.
[00:18:07.080] - Big Rich Klein
Right, with all that in your twenty one, twenty two, twenty two, twenty three when the accident happened. Yeah. And then where did the the next phase step in and I'm not sure what that phase is. So that was your accident was in ninety nineteen ninety four.
[00:18:26.640] - Big Rich Klein
Ninety four. And then I met you right around two thousand and one or two I think maybe.
[00:18:33.040] - Clay Egan
Yeah. What would have been twenty two thousand three is when I when I started competing.
[00:18:38.040] - Big Rich Klein
OK, so what was that, that time frame, you know, a year or two after your, your accident to, to when you got into the off road scene.
[00:18:51.200] - Clay Egan
Yeah. So you know, my dream as a kid, like career wise, I was never good in school. And I come from a very, very educated family. I mean, all my siblings are all college graduates have you know, I've had solid, very successful careers. And and then it was me that just struggled through school. You know, obviously a lot of that because of my home life, they were a lot older than me. So they didn't live with us when my dad was going through all that crap.
[00:19:23.580] - Clay Egan
And so I you know, construction was my thing. I was always really good with my hands and building. I loved woodwork. I loved building homes. And so, you know, I always wanted to be a builder. And so when I got out of the hospital, I started working on getting my general contracting license, which I did a year later. Well, and started my construction company, Clay Egan Construction. And I built custom homes and did all kinds of aspects of remodeling and additions and all kinds of, you know, you know, residential and commercial remodeling.
[00:20:01.830] - Clay Egan
And so I did that for a number of years. And then I kind of kind of got to the point where I was like, this is really not the greatest job for a guy in a wheelchair. You know, I struggled to get around on the job site. I struggled to be able to physically manage the jobs like I wanted to because I just could not get around very well. And and so I went to work for a company by the name of Tuff Shed, I'm sure.
[00:20:29.730] - Clay Egan
Oh, yeah. You know, you've heard a Tuff Shed. They were all over there. I mean, they still are all over California and nationwide, nationwide. And I went to work for them in sales. And that's actually where I fell into competition. I found competition rockcrawling was by working at Tuff Shed.
[00:20:49.860] - Big Rich Klein
OK, now I do remember the Tuff Shed. In fact, you were you had them on your vehicle for a while, if I remember. Right.
[00:20:57.750] - Clay Egan
Right. So when I first started, they became my title sponsor and you sponsored me to to go around to the different events. I did that, you know, that famous Tuff Shed commercial drive in my my rock crawler over the sheds and crash it off the other side onto the tin shed that I shot that I filmed that in October of 2004. Yeah, 2004. And I still get texts or calls every once in a while that, you know, from somebody, you know, somewhere that's saw it recently.
[00:21:32.190] - Clay Egan
So they're still they're still running at all these years later. But but the you know, the whole way I fell into the rock crawling scene was was kind of just an interesting story in itself.
[00:21:45.740] - Big Rich Klein
We'd love to hear it.
[00:21:47.220] - Clay Egan
Well, so this was back in the early, you know, like you said in your introduction in the early UROC/ARCA days and Mark and Mike Peatty, they used to be partners with Craig Stumph in the early days of WE Rock after, you know, Craig decided to to sell that and kind of move on that. Mike, Mike and Mark came into my store one day wanting me to build them some tickets, some some sheds that they could use as ticket booths for their UROC competitions.
[00:22:23.100] - Clay Egan
And they saw some photos of me with some animals that I had hunted. And and, you know, we're kind of impressed by my attitude and and just some of the things I'd done. And and, you know, I shared with them a little bit about, you know, growing up racing, motocross and stuff. And and then they just basically are like, look, we're, you know, promoting this series. We've got this, you know, custom rock crawler.
[00:22:51.270] - Clay Egan
That is the Cherokee that you talked about that we really can't use anymore because we're you know, we're not competing. We're promoting. And they're like, there's nobody in the world like you doing this. They said, why don't you come and check it out and. And you could drive our rig and see see what you think and, you know, I had never met these guys, never heard of them, didn't really I'd never heard of competition rock crawling.
[00:23:16.390] - Clay Egan
I mean, growing up with Moab kind of in my backyard, I mean, I knew what wrote, you know, what hardcore Wheelin was, but I didn't I didn't actually know there was a sport. And so, you know, I checked it out and I went and did some interviews with them. And my very first interview was with Walker Evans. Oh, nice. And and, you know, growing up in, you know, following off road and motocross, I mean, Walker was like my hero when I was a kid growing up.
[00:23:47.590] - Clay Egan
He's got a cabin up in the mountains here in Utah, not too far from where I crash and had my accident. And and so, you know, I've been following him forever. And to be able to do that interview with him, you know, that night was like I mean, I was like a kid in a candy store, man. I mean, I think I was grinning from ear to ear and probably said something dumb just out of kind of starstruck ness.
[00:24:10.720] - Clay Egan
And but it was there was definitely a life changing experience for me.
[00:24:15.760] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I can tell you, we've all had that experience with the number of those guys, whether it was with Walker or, you know, some of the other early pioneers in the off road racing, you know, Rod Hall's I've got one of those those stories. So. Yeah.
[00:24:33.080] - Clay Egan
So then I believe it, I mean, you've been around doing it longer than I have, and I'm sure you've you've talked with with, you know, all the great us and and probably had the same feeling that I had.
[00:24:45.050] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, I'm still that way, especially in the in the off road racing side of it. Some of the guys that I meet, I'm just like, blown away. Sure. So then they say, here's the buggy, set it up what you need to because they know you had special controls, correct?
[00:25:03.800] - Clay Egan
Sure. Yeah. So what we did is we I got a set of hand controls and and met up with with Mark and Mike. And they were I mean, the hand controls that I use are very universal. I mean, the same hand controls that I used in my competition rock Crawler, I used in my ultra4 car, I use in my daily driver and they just bolt in and out. You know, the device bolts underneath the steering column and then a rod goes down to the gas pedal and the brake pedal and you run the gas and the brake just with one hand.
[00:25:41.780] - Clay Egan
And so I got to I got a hold of a set of hand controls and got it to them and they got it set up. And then Mark took me down to St George in that old area that was used for competition back in the early days of Rock Crawlin. That actually is not there anymore. It's I guess it's all built in with houses. But they took me down there and, you know, strap me in it and just kind of, you know, spotted me around the rocks.
[00:26:12.650] - Clay Egan
And they were they were really actually impressed that, you know, that I could do it with the hand controls that I had and that I just had good hand eye coordination and contact with with what was going on. And and, you know, they took me up some gnarly walls and I was able to go right up them. And they both just I can remember it like yesterday. They were both just sitting there with these big grins shaking their head and just like, dude, you're going to be fine, you know?
[00:26:42.710] - Clay Egan
And so I was stoked. And and a month later, I went down to St George with them and entered my first competition.
[00:26:51.850] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. And who spotted you in that first competition, so the first one was there was a guy. Honestly, I was guy by the name of Gabe. I don't even remember. I mean, he wasn't from the sport. It was just somebody that that I probably suckered into just coming in and helping me out. Neither one of us knew what we were doing. I mean, just to give you an idea how naive and how how much I did not know about the sport, the very first gate on my very first obstacle, I drove over the front gate going in between the cones and I didn't like, you know, ten points.
[00:27:33.580] - Big Rich Klein
And I was like, huh? And so I just, you know, I just I learned a lot that weekend. I got my butt handed to me, but there was a lot of media out there and I did a ton of interviews. And I mean, I had a blast. I mean, I did I felt like a rock star out there, that very first event. And and it just really was all it all went up from there.
[00:27:58.570] - Big Rich Klein
That's really cool. And then so. When I met you, you had you had a spotter that had spotted you for quite a while, right? And that was so that was that was Chris Delahanty. Chris has been my best friend since the eighth grade. You know, I talked about Tyler Quinn a minute ago. Those two guys have been my best friends since the eighth grade. They've been with me like through that that the best times of my life and through the hardest, most difficult times and at times literally had to carry me through, you know, the rough stuff.
[00:28:35.970] - Big Rich Klein
But two of the most loyal guys that I ever could have been blessed with to share this life with, you know, and and so, Chris, spotted for me. After that first competition, he was my spotter for the first three full seasons, OK? We went to three Supercrawls with the UROC series, the World Supercrawl World Championships. We finished seventh in the nation, you know, as good as seventh in the nation podium a few times throughout that time.
[00:29:09.630] - Big Rich Klein
I mean, I you know, I never won a comp. You know, like I said, I made it to the podium a few times throughout my my, you know, six years of competing. But I always felt like I was somewhat competitive and and had some just really good runs where I you know, I actually did really well against, you know, a lot of the the top drivers out there back then.
[00:29:31.380] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I agree 100 percent. So then those six years of competing. When when that when that time frame ended for you, what was next?
[00:29:45.160] - Clay Egan
Well, it's so over that six years. So I did, you know, competitions with with you, with WE Rock, with WE Rock and then some old pro rock events. My very last rock crawlin event was the was the Pro Rock National Finals in 2008 and Cougar Butte's. And the first day I was in second place at the finals, Dave Cole was in third place. And I was, dude, I'm not going to you know, I'm not going to lie.
[00:30:17.560] - Clay Egan
I was I was still a pretty pretty stoked that I was in front of Dave. And I honestly, I don't even remember who was in first. There was somebody that if I could remember his name, you'd be, you know, you'd be like, oh, yeah, he was always in first. But anyways, on the on the second day of the competition, Dave ended up, you know, beat me out by one count and he took second.
[00:30:42.520] - Clay Egan
I took third. And it was just it was a great trip that, you know, to kind of end, you know, the rock crawling phase of things. But at that time, I had built a new buggy and was competing in the XRRA rock racing series. And so I did that twenty seven, two thousand eight. And then we built the third rig, which was my ultra for a car, and raced the two thousand nine king and the hammers.
[00:31:15.190] - Clay Egan
And that was back when there was just one class, you know, it was just all of us out there going for broke. And I had a brand new car, totally wasn't dialed in. I mean, we were still putting the motor in on the lake bed. And I'm sure, you know, everybody that that, you know, that's competed has been in the same shoes, you know, and and so my last race was on the hammers.
[00:31:43.750] - Clay Egan
And it was definitely one of the the greatest highlights of my whole, you know, rock crawling rock sport, you know, career events. And so that just kind of give you that. Just a quick back story of that race. That year, there was 92 teams and it was an eighty six mile loop. And I drew that year they they just did a random drawing. We drew cards, if you remember it, Pomona. Right. You know, in October before that February and and Tyler Tyler was my KOH driver that year.
[00:32:30.490] - Clay Egan
And we were we were fourth off the line. And so at mile marker 60, I was in seventh place and and I was earning excuse me, I was in eighth place and I was gaining on seventh and I just, you know, I made a tired mental error and rolled the track and, you know, lost all all that ground. Took Tyler a couple hours to get me put back together. I mean, obviously, I'm you know, I'm strapped in, so I can't get out and help him.
[00:33:04.640] - Clay Egan
You know, he got somebody to come over and help him get me out of the buggy and they drag me over and set me on the rocks while Tyler worked on it, got us back together. And we finally finished the race that night like nine hours and fifty six minutes. And it was dude, it was the longest, most brutal thing physically that I'd ever done in my life. I mean, when I crossed the finish line, they had to literally pull me out of my truck and pushed me in my wheelchair because I could not lift my arms past my shoulder length.
[00:33:39.500] - Clay Egan
I mean, I was I was done, but I had kind of a spiritual experience out there on the lake bed that afternoon when I was upside down. And so what happened is for the longest time, I had been feeling like I've been having just this this gut feeling about that. I need to kind of back off of the crying in the raisin and stuff and focus more on my story. I'm a very religious, very spiritual guy. You know, I believed always that God has had a hand in my life and everything that I've been through from the beginning.
[00:34:21.560] - Clay Egan
And I've always believed that he blessed me with this wheelchair and the rock crawling story that I have to be able to share that story to help and inspire others. And so for a long time, I just been feeling like, you know, God's given me this great gift and this great story, I need to be sharing it. And I had already started, you know, traveling and motivational speaking quite a bit, but it was not my focus.
[00:34:49.930] - Clay Egan
And so as I was laying there upside down in my truck that that early afternoon. I just I said a prayer and I was just like, God, look, I'm like, I don't ask for much, you know, I'll do whatever you want me to do. I said, I feel like you wanted me to be speaking and sharing my story. I said, look, if you just help us get this truck back together and finish this race, I'll honor that and I'll go home and I'll quit racing and I'll focus on on speaking and traveling and sharing my story.
[00:35:26.170] - Clay Egan
And so I did and did. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I mean, I did not I was not prepared to keep my end of the deal, you know? I mean, I just at that point, I wanted to finish that race so bad. And I still think, honestly, I'm the only quadriplegic in the world that's ever, you know, raised that in a forty four hundred and finish the race. And I you know, it was it was the greatest thing, like I said, of my career.
[00:35:58.090] - Clay Egan
And but know I did I came home, I sold that ultra for car, sold all my stuff, and I spent the next six years traveling and sharing my story to honor that deal I made with God.
[00:36:13.600] - Big Rich Klein
That's that's awesome. So the the people that you were speaking to, were they like companies, were they were they other paraplegics? Were they you know, what was where did you was my audience? Yes. So, I mean, it was all of that I spoke at corporate events, you know, for businesses, I did a lot of youth speaking it at schools and it like boys homes for troubled youth. I mean, I connected with them probably more than any of them just because of my own troubled past.
[00:36:53.370] - Big Rich Klein
That was where my kind of my passion for speaking was, was trying to help those young kids that were struggling. Right. I did a lot of, you know, religious groups. So really anything anybody that hires a speaker, I did. I mean, I spoke it at Rochlin events. I spoke at one of the Lucas Oil offroad race, one of their their church events one night. I mean, any anything that anybody has ever hired a speaker that I spoke to, that's that is pretty cool.
[00:37:33.630] - Big Rich Klein
And all over the country, I assume.
[00:37:35.730] - Clay Egan
Yeah. All over the country. And travel a lot doing that. And like I said, I did it for about six years. I mean, really I mean, I started telling my story, you know, to an actual group. I mean, two months after I'd gotten out of the hospital just because, you know, from clear back then, people were always commenting about just the attitude that I had, the good attitude. Right. And you know, that that good attitude has been my meal ticket everywhere.
[00:38:06.510] - Clay Egan
It's been the key to my success. And, you know, we all have stuff that we deal with in life. I mean, we all we all have challenges, whether it be financial challenges, our jobs, marital challenges, you know, loss of a child, divorce, whatever it is, we all have those obstacles to overcome and they suck when we're in it. But what I've learned through all of mine is just if you can find just even one good thing in that bad experience, you know, you grow, you learn and you you know, you go forward a better person.
[00:38:46.110] - Clay Egan
And so I've always tried to share that in my message. You know, when I spoke to different groups throughout the years, I personally I've not always been a very, you know, a real positive person until I met Shelley. And then after I met Shelley, she helped me become more positive. I try to live we both live our life trying to be as positive as possible and knowing that, like what we put out is what we get back.
[00:39:21.720] - Clay Egan
You know, if we go if we go into any situation with a negative attitude, that's what happens. Yeah. You know, and we try to we try to remind everybody that, you know, yeah, things can be rough, things can be tough. There's all sorts of different things that can get you down, can weigh on you. It can be, you know, your health. It you know, so many things, like you said.
[00:39:44.190] - Clay Egan
But if you if you really work on it, on keeping things positive, you know, positive energies will come back.
[00:39:52.720] - Clay Egan
Absolutely, you know, and nobody likes being around a Debbie Downer. I mean, I'm sure you've been around, you know, people throughout your life that just, you know, to their naysayer, everything that comes out of their mouth is negative and, you know, always complain and just, you know, just can't find anything good in the situation, you know? And it's like I have a hard time being around those kind of people. You know, it's just like life is too short and too good to just always be focusing on the bad.
[00:40:23.770] - Clay Egan
And it really it really is a simple concept that people could just grasp. But I mean, it's a choice, right? You know, it's flat out choice. Sometimes it's hard, you know, changing the way we are, changing our mindset, trying to see the glass half full, if you will. But I mean, you know, if people can just start getting into, you know, just being aware and catching themselves when, you know, they're being negative or, you know, seeing, you know, seeing the bad and something instead of, you know, what good can I get out of this?
[00:41:00.550] - Clay Egan
You know, people I think would just be a lot happier in life, you know? I agree 100 percent. So since the speaking so run 2005, 2006 or excuse me, 15 or 16, you haven't been speaking, doing the what have you been doing since then? I know before we started the record, we talked that, you know, you've been kind of leading a more sheltered life now and stuff. But, you know, have you thought about putting your your story down into a book or anything like that?
[00:41:40.880] - Clay Egan
Well, you know, it's it's funny you ask that. I mean, I gave my last speaking engagement on November 4th. Twenty seventeen. And it was down in St. George, Utah, literally blocks from where that first event happened for me. And it's really where my, you know, my rock crawling stories started. And so I wanted to just really kind of, you know, go out with a bang in my speaking. And to be honest, you know, I just I really got burned out on just telling my story.
[00:42:13.790] - Clay Egan
That's kind of where, you know, it just ended. I you know, I actually I wrote a couple of books, so I do have a couple of books out with my story. One one is my story. The other book is is it's called The Warrior Poet. And it's just a book of poetry, of the poems that I've written, you know, throughout the years. I mean, I've been writing for, you know, for 20 years.
[00:42:38.300] - Clay Egan
And anyways, so, you know, I just I decided that that that was going to be my last talk. And I, I you know, I just hit that time, had bond, you know, I bought some property here in the mountains that had been a lifelong dream to put a cabin on. And so literally for the last four years, I've been building that that hunting property up and building my cabin. And, you know, that's that's where my passion is.
[00:43:10.940] - Clay Egan
I mean, growing up in a family that hunted and fished, that's that's what's deep in my blood. I love the off road while it was there. But to be honest with you, this old body is shot. I mean, I cannot take bouncing around in a rig for two more seconds. I mean, it's it's hard enough just to get around in my wheelchair anymore without just feeling beat up. But I so I sold all my rock crawlers, I sold my jeeps and I have a little razor, a hunter that I use, you know, as my legs when I'm in the mountains.
[00:43:48.080] - Clay Egan
And I just got out of that. And and that's, you know, that's my happy place. It's it's literally my my happy place. And I just I chill out there every second that I get.
[00:43:59.920] - Big Rich Klein
And are you still good friends with with the two individuals you talked about, Tyler and Chris?
[00:44:06.040] - Clay Egan
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I talked to them both literally daily. Tyler excuse me. Chris moved to a little town called Lewisburg, Tennessee, a couple of years ago. But he and I still talk all the time. And Tyler, you know, he doesn't live too far from me here, you know, in South Jordan, Utah, where I live. And so, you know, I see him all the time. And we we do we talk almost every day.
[00:44:34.420] - Big Rich Klein
That's that's awesome. That that has to help as well.
[00:44:38.590] - Clay Egan
Well, you know, it does. And I mean I mean, I have always been blessed with the best of friends. I mean, you know, Chris, Chris, you know, spotted for me the first four years. And then my really good friend, Nick Jenkins, another guy that I consider, you know, one of my very best friends, he took over where Chris left off and and spotted for me the rest of the time. And he lives close by as well.
[00:45:06.370] - Clay Egan
And and so, you know, those three guys right there, if you find any old school rock crawling pictures, those three guys are there and they they made it happen. I mean, yeah, I was the face I was the guy that got all the, you know, the media coverage and the interviews and stuff. But really, I wouldn't be the guy that I am without those three guys. They made it happen, not me.
[00:45:30.460] - Big Rich Klein
That is that's awesome. What what is next? Do you have any any plans for the future?
[00:45:40.520] - Clay Egan
Boy, that is a good question, man. You know, I turned 50 this year, I felt like an old frickin man. And yet yet, I mean, my body feels like it's 90, but my brain still feels like I'm 17. And I'm sure you can you can relate. I know anybody that's that's been around, you know, anything that you know, anybody that's passionate about something. I don't care if it's scuba diving or, you know, or painting if you're passionate about it.
[00:46:09.930] - Clay Egan
Those passions keep us young. And, you know, motor sports and hunting has always been my thing. And they keep me young, you know, mentally. And so I'm just going to keep building my cabin. I got quite a bit of work still left to do. And, you know, I'm still working full time. And so, you know, I stay very busy. I am more than a more active in a wheelchair than than most guys in chairs that I know.
[00:46:46.670] - Clay Egan
And you know that that keeps me healthy, too. And so just, you know, literally just building my cabin and spending as much time on the mountain as I can.
[00:46:55.670] - Big Rich Klein
Are you still a tough shed?
[00:46:58.460] - Clay Egan
No, no, no. OK, now, so I left. I've shed. So, you know, when the economy tanked back in 07, 08, I the I left I've shed at my 10 year mark, OK? And I took I just took a couple of years off and and focused on my speaking. And then I did that for, you know, for a couple of years full time. And then I went to work for a point as a dealership, which is a tired automotive chain like like Les Slobber Discount or whatever.
[00:47:36.470] - Clay Egan
And and so I went to work for a buddy of mine at the corporate names, Edwards Automotive. And we have a number of different locations and different businesses under that corporate umbrella. But I'm his CFO and so I manage all the finances for his business and have been doing that for the last ten years. And so it was a really great partnership for the both of us because, you know, I could still speak, you know, for I mean, I went to work for him and two thousand eleven.
[00:48:08.720] - Clay Egan
And so I spoke, you know, another six years throughout that time. And, you know, it allowed me to be able to do that and, you know, work full time. And and so now I just I'm you know, I'm doing that and and just really just kind of. Living pretty quiet, I mean, I don't make appearances anymore, I don't speak anymore. I mean, this is literally rich with you, the first interview I've done in years, so.
[00:48:32.470] - Clay Egan
Well, I pretty well and I appreciate you, like I said, remember me and thinking, you know, thinking of me because, you know, it's kind of I'll be honest. I mean, the whole being out of it is a little bit of salt in the wound kind of thing, if you will, because I miss it. I miss all my friends, you know, yourself, little rich, you know all the rest of the old school gang that you know, that I cut my teeth in the spar with, you know, and and I don't see anybody anymore.
[00:49:01.810] - Clay Egan
But, you know, that's that's about it.
[00:49:06.410] - Big Rich Klein
There's not a whole lot of them still competing from back, you know, back in the mid 2000s, unfortunately. Sure. You know, there's a Joe Schmo just came back and is spotting for Randall Davis in Cody Waggoner's, Jesse Haines Fabrica. But, you know, most of the old school guys, I still see a lot of them from you know, I'll see Dean Bullock when I'm down in Cedar City and stuff, but. Sure. And hang out with, you know, go by and visit Jason Paule when I'm up in South Dakota or something.
[00:49:39.320] - Big Rich Klein
But, you know, there's not a whole lot of them still competing from back then.
[00:49:42.980] - Clay Egan
So right now, that's because we're all by old man.
[00:49:46.700] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, yeah. I know. I can't tell everybody that this is anybody listening.
[00:49:54.680] - Big Rich Klein
I don't know if they're listening to me or not. I don't know if anybody ever listened to me.
[00:50:00.710] - Clay Egan
Well, I always enjoyed your company. I always enjoyed, you know, our chats and loved your competitions. I mean, my my last WE Rock event was probably August of 08 there in Sadr City. And it was one of the most memorable, funnest events that I ever, you know, that I ever competed in. I mean, you guys put together just some killer courses that year. And that was that was just a really, really fun course and always fun to be, you know, close to home so that friends and family could make the trek to, you know, come watch.
[00:50:40.830] - Clay Egan
Right. And, you know, but that three peaks, you know, areas just got some awesome rocks. I always love being there.
[00:50:48.050] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. We were just there two weeks ago for our Western series opener.
[00:50:52.750] - Clay Egan
[00:50:53.470] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, and next up on our schedule is, is Delta, Utah. We took over what Craig's dump called old school and we're now calling it the Delta Classic.
[00:51:04.360] - Clay Egan
So awesome. Now, when is that?
[00:51:06.250] - Big Rich Klein
That'll be Memorial Weekend, the Friday and Saturday.
[00:51:09.530] - Clay Egan
Oh, it is. Such as next week, then?
[00:51:11.290] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. Next week. Yep.
[00:51:12.820] - Clay Egan
Wow. So, yeah. So you took over the dates and everything. Yes, absolutely. That's awesome. And wow, that's that's a super fun class too.
[00:51:20.410] - Big Rich Klein
Yes it is. And it's just a great event because it's for us, it's not near as much pressure as a season event. And we get so many new guys coming out to that that are just, you know, the whole idea is to get them hooked in and, you know, get them to enjoy the the sport beyond just trail wheeling.
[00:51:39.010] - Clay Egan
Right. That's awesome, man. Now what? This is a little bit off the subject, but what's what's little Rich doing these days? How's he doing?
[00:51:47.920] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, he's doing great. He's living down in the sand hollow hurricane area, OK? And he's got a family and two kids. And there he actually runs an event called Trail Hero that happens every October. OK, I have heard of it. He runs that event also. Yeah. So it's you know, we're still all in it. You know, I don't know how many more years I'm going to be doing it. Twenty one years now.
[00:52:16.960] - Big Rich Klein
Dang, you know, I'm of you man.
[00:52:18.920] - Clay Egan
That that is that is so awesome. And it's so many guys can say that there.
[00:52:23.500] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah I know. And I had 63. I don't plan on doing it for another twenty one.
[00:52:30.220] - Clay Egan
Well I know what it took for you guys to put on those events man. And just how much work and you know not always the best conditions weather wise. And you know, you still you still made it happen. And you know, I was always I was always very appreciative and always grateful for what y'all did.
[00:52:48.100] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I appreciate that. Thank you. Yeah. There's the one thing I always tell everybody. You know, there's no rain delays. We either run or we cancel. Yeah. And we don't like to cancel unless it's dangerous. Right.
[00:53:01.000] - Clay Egan
So I think we've all raised and competed in the best conditions, but the worst as well.
[00:53:06.790] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. So is there anything that that we haven't touched base on that you would like to talk about or, you know, do you have any questions for me that you've, you know, that you can think of?
[00:53:22.420] - Clay Egan
You know, I mean, not really rich, I mean, we we kind of covered off like, you know, kind of what what I've had going on and, you know, you covered my story yet. And and you know what I mean. What what are your events these days? I remember back in the day you are doing some real crime, but some, you know, kind of rock racing. Are you still kind of doing that format or are you just back to strictly old school competition or crime?
[00:53:53.590] - Big Rich Klein
Just competition, rock rolling. At one point we were we were doing Vorra Valley off Road Racing Association. We did that for about four years. And then then we got into doing dirt right races, which was, you know, kind of a grassroots. You know, for the 44 hundreds and all the classes that ultra for is and we stopped that in 2000 and not 19, 20, 19. Oh, wow. And actually, you know, we were doing 21 events a year at that point.
[00:54:26.420] - Big Rich Klein
And and it was just too much. Yeah, it was. It was too hard. It was great when I had. People traveling, yeah, help, yeah, but, you know, I've been doing this now for. What is it, about five years now, just Shelley and I and, you know, I get help at some of the events with some of the drivers or old drivers coming in and, you know, competitors coming in and helping, you know, either set up or tear down or guys sticking around an extra day to help tear down and load up.
[00:54:59.750] - Big Rich Klein
But, you know, pretty much it's still, you know, 90 percent of it is is physically me. And it's just it's it's getting. You know, it's hard. Yeah, especially the tiny one seven nowadays or eight is a lot easier.
[00:55:15.910] - Clay Egan
Yeah. So is that how many you're doing these days is eight.
[00:55:19.250] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. This year will do.
[00:55:20.360] - Clay Egan
Eight will be on the West Coast and Far East Coast.
[00:55:23.090] - Big Rich Klein
Now it'll be three, three West Grand Nationals and then of of course a Delta Classic.
[00:55:31.520] - Clay Egan
Oh, God. You OK?
[00:55:33.960] - Big Rich Klein
So we're happy with that, it stretches the season out and I don't have to do back to back to back to back, there was one year where I had, like the last six events were all weekend to weekend to weekend to weekend. And I was going across country as well. Yeah. You know, getting done with a rock roll in New Hampshire on Thursday or on Sunday and then having to be ready for practice at a dirt race in Texas.
[00:55:59.940] - Big Rich Klein
Twenty one twenty two hundred miles away by Friday. So dang.
[00:56:04.950] - Clay Egan
Yeah, that was yeah, that's right there. That that's a lot of a lot of travel, a lot of hard work man.
[00:56:10.920] - Big Rich Klein
I can't, I can't drive that many hours anymore.
[00:56:14.040] - Clay Egan
Yeah. You and me both. I man three is about my max and any kind of road trip and I mean that's why you know, when I say I'm leaning kind of a quiet life, I mean, my my body is shot. I mean, I beat it and abused it. And, you know, it's just I I'm uncomfortable in pain. Ninety nine percent of the time. Right. And so to sit and drive, you know, for more than like here to St.
[00:56:41.160] - Clay Egan
George or more than, you know, from here to Moab, I just won't do it. It's just it's it's just no fun anymore.
[00:56:49.620] - Big Rich Klein
It makes it so I can feel your pain. Man, that's a long haul. Travel instincts. Yep.
[00:56:55.470] - Big Rich Klein
We we avoid that now. We still make the long trips that we take a lot longer to do it.
[00:57:01.890] - Clay Egan
Yeah. Well good for you. And your wife's doing good. Shelley hanging in there and. Yes.
[00:57:07.920] - Big Rich Klein
Oswal there. Yep. Everything's great. She's, she's got a whole bunch of little businesses going on and you know, we're still doing the rock roll. We got an off Road magazine that we produce and of course the podcast. And then we have an all natural skincare product line and about Syriatel and all sorts of different things that we're doing.
[00:57:30.840] - Clay Egan
Well, good for you, man. It's good to be busy.
[00:57:33.180] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, it is. Well. You know, Clay, I want to say thank you so much for coming on board and telling your story and hopefully people will get inspired, you know, and think about, you know, the positivity in their life, you know, how positive life can be and, you know, kind of shoo those bad thoughts out of their mind and work toward being positive.
[00:58:00.430] - Clay Egan
Absolutely mad, I mean, literally, you know, like I said earlier, is there is the key to success, man, and, you know, success comes in all forms, whether it's financial success or, you know, job success or marriage success or, you know, just friendships, you know, I mean, it's all it all plays into to being successful and, you know, being positive and just trying to find the good in things is so important.
[00:58:29.830] - Big Rich Klein
I agree 100 percent. So, Clay, I'd like to say thank you for taking the time to talk with us and share your story with our listeners and, you know, I hope you all the the fortunes and good luck, you know, that you can afford in the future. And, you know, I'll pray for you that your your pain is is minimized and you know that everything runs smoothly from here on out.
[00:58:59.460] - Clay Egan
Well, I appreciate that, Rich. And I you know, I, I pray for the same for yourself, you know. And I know like I said earlier, I appreciate you having me on and all the years of friendship and and just that, you know, camaraderie. It's been it's been a lot of fun. So, you know, thanks again for thinking of me.
[00:59:19.350] - Big Rich Klein
All right. Kelly and I will get in touch with you and let you know when we're going to air this this episode. And again, thank you so much, Carol.
[00:59:28.800] - Clay Egan
Sounds good, man. Really great to talk to you.
[00:59:30.770] - Big Rich Klein
OK, have a nice evening, Carol.
[00:59:32.490] - Clay Egan
All right. It was OK. Bye bye.
[00:59:35.780] - Big Rich Klein
If you enjoy these podcasts, please give us a rating, share some feedback with us via Facebook or Instagram and share our link among your friends who might be like minded. Well, that brings this episode to an end. OK, you enjoyed it. We'll catch you next week with conversations with Big Rich. Thank you very much.