Monrovia, CA., Jul. 21 - The fifth annual West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Induction/Banquet took place Friday evening here at the Holiday Inn main ballroom with 170 persons in attendance. Ten persons joined 62-persons already inducted during the past four years for their significant contributions to the sport of stock car auto racing on the West Coast. An Ivan Baldwin No. 07 street-legal Chevelle and the No. 103 Walt Faulkner mid-1950s Pan American Road Race Lincoln Capri were parked in the hotel's check-in driveway to honor two 2006 inductees and stir memories for banquet attendees. The 2006 inductees were - (1946 to 1969 era) car owners Beryl Jackson and Jim Rush, plus drivers John Kieper, Walt Faulkner and Jim Cook; (1970 to present) car owner Ray Clairidge, builder/mechanic Gary Nelson, sponsor/car owner Mike Curb, plus drivers Ivan Baldwin and Don Noel. Kieper, Clairidge, Nelson, Curb and Noel accepted their induction in person. Bob Elliff, Motor Racing Outreach chaplain, gave the invocation, The almost two hour ceremonies followed a filet mignon dinner at 7:00 p.m, with complimentary wine at each table from Randy Lynch's Napa Valley Bennett Lane Winery (the sponsor of Mike David's No. 2 GNW Ford).
Host Tim Meyer, of St. George, UT, founded the WCSCHofF in 2001 to honor persons who helped make stock car racing the growth sport it is today by their contributions on the west coast. Meyer, who welcomed guests, continues as president of the WCSCHofF board. Board members nominate and elect new members each year and induct them on the night before the NASCAR Grand National West 200 at nearby Irwindale Speedway. Other board members are Ken Clapp, Walt James, Kevin Green, Craig Armstrong, Jack McCoy, Doug Stokes, Joe Nava, Owen Kearns and Les Richter. A special award presentation for contribution to west coast racing brought James, 83, to the rostrum. He told the audience about "the good old days", how race organizers J. C. Agajanian, Don Basile and others brought stock car racing back after World War II. He said race-cars were really stock and often came from car dealers' lots. James told about a Crosley that usually broke an axle and about Ed Corrigan winning a race in a Jeep.
Master of ceremonies Craig Armstrong, the vice-president of operations at the new Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA, introduced WCSCHofF members present: Hershel McGriff, Lloyd Dane, Ernie Conn, Shav Glick, McCoy and Clapp. He also named board members Green, Clapp, James, Armstrong, McCoy, Nava, Meyer, Kearns, Stokes and Richter. Armstrong introduced special guests in the audience: Gillian Zucker, president of California Speedway; Dusty Brandel, president of American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association; Cary Agajanian, lawyer-drivers agent-promoter-car owner; Dave Stewart, Vintage Oval Racing Magazine; Jim Williams and Bob DeFazio, of Irwindale Speedway; current NGNW car owners Nava and Randy Lynch, and past NASCAR West Series champions-Dane (1954, 56 & 57), McCoy (1966 & 1973), McGriff (1986) and Sean Woodside (1999). He also recognized contributions from NASCAR, California Speedway, Phoeni International Raceway, Stockton 99 Speedway, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Bennett Lane Winery, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Infineon Raceway.
Armstrong read brief histories and accomplishments of all ten inductees and they were honored in alphabetical order. Inductees or family members of deceased inductees accepted induction plaques on the stage. They were, in order honored:
IVAN BALDWIN started racing in 1966, was suspended a year later after a dispute with an official and won his first main on 9/29/68 at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino. He won many mains in the early 70s and five track championships at three tracks in 1973-74 driving cars he had built as a master mechanic. By the end of 1974 Ivan and his friend Gary Nelson joined Jack McCoy Racing and in 1976 Ivan won 28 of 44 races entered, including two Riverside races and the Pacific Northwest Driver's Championship. Ivan and Carrera Shocks pioneered the coil-over suspension design and with Gary Nelson's vital development role produced the standard shock for future late models. In 1976 Nelson joined the Digard team and he left for the South after he and Ivan won for the last time at Riverside in January 1977. Ivan left McCoy and opened his own shop with friend Arley Cook. He worked with Kenny Boyd in 1980 and they won 22 features together. In 1982-84 Ivan worked with Tim Gillett and they won the 1984 Stockton Speedway championship. Ivan won the 1986 NASCAR Winston West championship as crew chief for driver McGriff. Ivan built a Thunderbird for Tony Oddo and they won a Winston West race at Stockton in their debut. Bill Elliott then drove the T-bird at Riverside and was impressed with Ivan's car building ability. Shortly thereafter, Ivansold his shop and joined Elliott in the South. "Ivan the Terrible" as he was known taught Elliott skills necessary to win on short tracks. He is renowned as one of the best chassis men of all time. His friend Gary Nelson spoke and said, " Ivan'sphilosophy was, you don't lose until you stop trying. Ivan was an innovator and artist who created things that were art. He was stubborn and refused to lose," Gary added before presenting the plaque to Ivan's daughter Tammy and his grandchildren. "He would be so honored tonight," Tammy said.
RAY CLAIRIDGE moved up to NASCAR's Winston West Series as a car owner with Lance Hooper after they had won NASCAR's 1995 Southwest Tour Championship. Ray had good cars, skilled crewmen and a professional team look. They won four races and the 1996 Winston West Championship, as well as the rookie of the year title-the first to do so in the modern era. Ray followed with second place finishes in 1997, losing by 77-points to Butch Gilliland, and again in 1998, losing by 100 points to Kevin Harvick, with Sean Woodside driving Ray's car. He left the car owner ranks but he stays busy with his cinema vehicle services business. Kevin Green, NASCAR West Series media coordinator, presented the award to Ray. "I accept this induction for my team. Motor sports is a team effort. West Coast racing is a great sport. It was all about competing," Ray stated.
JIM COOK was a product of midget auto racing when he came west from Boston in the early 1940s. He raced modifieds, hard tops and early late models around the Los Angeles area. Jim moved up to the Grand National Series in 1954, driving his first race at Oakland Speedway. He won five times and finished in the top ten in points eight times, driving for WCSCHofF members Floyd Johnson (3-times) and Cos Cancilla (2-times). In 1970 Jim suffered a near fatal accident at turn nine of Riverside International Raceway and never recovered fully. His life ended tragically in 1983 at Oceanside when a robber beat him to death with one of his racing trophies. WCSCHofF member Clapp presented the plaque to Jim's son Jerry Cook and his widow Van (Evangeline). Clapp mentioned that his mentor and original WCSCHofF member Bob Barkhimer, 90, died last month on Fathers Day. Clapp, the Stockton promoter, mentioned that Cook's biggest victory came in 1960 in Sacramento on the State Fairgrounds mile in Floyd Johnson's Dodge.
MIKE CURB has been a sponsor and then a car owner for decades. He has sponsored Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Tom Sneva, Dale Jarrett, Jason Leffler, Bobby Allison, John Andretti, Stevie Reeves, Brad Noffsinger and P. J. Jones. Curb cars have raced from Daytona Beach to Indy, from Ascot to Phoenix. Mike's business (Curb Records) may be music, but his passion is motor sports-NASCAR, IRL, Champ Car, World of Outlaws or USAC. A former Lt. Governor of California, Mike is a west coast guy who now resides in Nashville, TN with his wife Linda and two daughters. Cary Agajanian presented the plaque to his long-time friend and racing team partner and recalled their first meeting at a political fund raiser cocktail party in Los Angeles. Cary said Mike pulled him aside and told him he got an autograph from his father J. C and just wanted to talk auto racing. "Mike loves racing and is a student of racing and a close family friend to all the Agajanian family," Cary said. "He has helped many drivers, some we know and some we'll never know. This may be one of his first racing awards and it is much deserved," Cary said. Mike said, "I'm undeserving, but very appreciative of this award. My dad was a FBI agent and he got Compton and Watts. My neighbor, Chris Christensen, loved racing and he took me to Carrell Speedway in Gardena in 1953. I remember all the Hudson Hornets, the smell of fuel and racing hooked me. I learned about racing from National Speed Sport News. I inducted J. C. Agajanian into the Indy Hall of Fame, served as Riverside Grand Marshall for Les Richter and met a young Dale Earnhardt. He needed sponsorship to make the full season so I put Curb Records on his car and he won his first Cup championship."
WALT FAULKNER hailed from Long Beach, CA and raced midgets prior to WW II. He won the Balboa Speedway in 1941. As stock car racing grew in popularity after the war, Walt raced at Carrell Speedway and on the Oakland Speedway "wall". He won pole position for the 1950 Indianapolis 500 as fastest qualifier in J. C. Agajanian's No. 98 dirt track car. Walt became part of Bill Stroppe's Lincoln factory team that ran the Pan American Mexican Road Race in the mid-1950s. He raced in the USAC stock car series and drove a factory Ford. He met an untimely death when his car flipped during a USAC stock car race at the quarter-mile dirt Vallejo (CA) Speedway in 1956. Walt's friend/WCSCHofF member Lloyd Dane presented the award to Walt's widow Mary.
BERYL JACKSON was a successful businessman from Longview, WA who loved stock car racing and owned the hottest Oldsmobile 88 race cars. His drivers included WCSCHofF members Hershel McGriff, Len Sutton, Johnny Kieper, Bill Amick, Danny Letner, and Lloyd Dane. His cars won at Oakland, Bay Meadows (San Mateo) and Portland to name a few tracks. He would travel east for big races at Daytona and Darlington. Beryl passed away a decade ago. Two of his former drivers-Kieper and 78-year old McGriff (who raced his No. 04 NASCAR GNW stock car as late as 2002)-told stories about Beryl. McGriff said Beryl had hairy legs and when they traveled to races he learned to double-sheet. Beryl's dog traveled to races and loved to eat pancakes at Beryl's favorite restaurant-the Rainbow Café. Kieper said, "Beryl was always fair and a true friend who gave good business advice. It was a pleasure to know him and I miss him a lot." The two drivers presented the award to Beryl's grandson Eric Prem, who read a letter from his mother (Beryl's daughter). She wrote, "Dad had fond memories of 18-year old driver Hershel McGriff and loved him like a son. Dad loved fishing and adult beverages."
JOHN KIEPER started racing in the Northwest around 1952 at Portland Speedway. He also raced at Oakland Speedway in an ex-Marvin Panch Mercury. John later drove Hudson Hornets and then an Olds 88 for Beryl Jackson. He won several NASCAR Grand National races before leaving racing to go into the truck salvage and used parts business with his beloved wife and partner, Beverly, who passed away in February 2006. In the mid-1970s John returned to racing as a driver and car owner. McGriff, Derrike Cope, Jimmy Insolo, Jimmy Walker, Jim Bown, Mike Chase and Greg Biffle raced for John's Wholesale Truck Parts team and his No. 98 won numerous races. Emcee and Kieper presenter Armstrong said, "John is a gentleman, courteous, respectful of others, totally ethical in business and loyal, almost to a fault, in his personal relationships." John thanked the board for his induction and said. "I met a lot of great people in racing. I raced on quarter-mile dirt tracks, one-mile horse tracks and witnessed the growth to super-speedways and large sponsorships today. My father took me to races and held me up to watch Hershel race. Hershel sold me my first race-car. Racing has been a family sport for us. I spent 25 years driving and 30+ years as a car owner. It's been a great trip. Thanks for the memories". John's son Richard and daughter Susan and their families attended.
GARY NELSON, of Redlands, CA originally, started his illustrious racing career working for racer Ivan Baldwin in nearby San Bernardino. He went south to fulfill his destiny and became one of the most respected NASCAR Cup crew chiefs of all time. Working with Darrell Waltrip, they won their first race together-at Darlington, S. C in 1977. Gary won the 1982 Bud Shoot-out and Daytona 500 with Bobby Allison and finished second in NASCAR Winston Cup points. Back with Allison in 1983, Bobby and Gary won the Winston Cup Championship. He also collected a Pepsi 400 victory with driver Greg Sacks in 1985 and another Daytona 500 with driver Geoff Bodine and Hendrick Motorsports in 1986. As a crew chief Gary made it to victory lane at every track on the Cup schedule and led Kyle Petty to his greatest successes in NASCAR. Gary spent 1988 in the ESPN broadcast booth as a color analyst. He then went to work for NASCAR as the Winston Cup Series director, vice-president of competition, and vice president of research & development. Gary resides in North Carolina and owns Provident Auto Supply, a performance parts distributor and the sole supplier of the new NASCAR Grand National West Series spec engine. Two-time Winston West champion/WCSCHofF member McCoy, who employed Gary in 1974, praised Gary. He designed a prototype car for me that won. "Gary had the demeanor and personality to be competition director and NASCAR's "top cop". He was involved with approving roof flaps, softer walls and the Nextel Cup "car of tomorrow". He deserves to be in our hall of fame," McCoy added. Gary, who attended with his son, said, "Wow, what an honor. We just loved to race-Friday at Speedway 605, Saturday at Orange Show, and Sunday at Oildale, El Cajon, Saugus or Ascot. Racing is the people. My rookie year I learned from Floyd Johnson that the driver is so important in winning. The driver has to make it handle. I'd rather have the best driver in a race than the best car."
DON NOEL raced out of Culver City and later Northridge. He started racing jalopies in the mid-1950s and moved up to Grand National stock cars in 1958, driving for Chuck Parko. He has seven NASCAR feature victories and drove for Cos Cancilla, Les Richter and Carl Simon as well as his own team. His greatest success came in the 1962-64 era driving for the Galpin Ford team with Ron Hornaday, Sr as his teammate. From 1960-63 Don finished second, third, third and fourth respectively in NASCAR's West Series final points. He was outstanding on all tracks, but he excelled on the tight bullrings. His greatest triumph came in 1966 at the State Fairgrounds mile dirt track in Sacramento, driving for Richter and Simon. Presenter Armstrong recounted tales of Don hosting racers at a new four-bay race-car garage behind his home in Northridge. He offered garage space and a home away from home for Armstrong and even provided orange juice and vodka "medicine" after Armstrong suffered a hyper-extended knee injury. Portly Don, now 77 and wearing his traditional suspenders, accepted the plaque gratefully and added, "I now run my dune buggy in Mexico when I'm not fishing." He related several Hershel McGriff stories and retold tales of racing and partying.
JIM RUSH was a former mayor of Gardena, CA and owner of one of the prominent Chevrolet dealerships in Southern California. He was a visionary auto dealer who believed and practiced the adage, "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday". He had Erick Erickson, Chuck Meekins, Danny Letner, Troy Ruttman and Jim Rathmann as drivers of his 1955 and 1956 Chevrolets. He also had an Olds. If Jim were alive he'd be about 120 now. Presenter Clapp said Jim was discussed as an original nominee five years ago, but there were no known survivors, although actress Barbara Rush could be a relative. Walt James accepted the award because he was one of the only persons in the room who knew Jim during his auto racing years.
Emcee Armstrong closed the award ceremonies by saying, "It's not about the race cars or machinery. It's about the people. Author Ernest Hemingway wrote 'bull fighting, mountain climbing and motor racing are the only sports. Everything else is just a game'. God speed, safe racing everybody."
WEST COAST STOCK CAR HALL OF FAME INDUCTS 14
By Tim Kennedy
Monrovia, Calif., Jul. 22 - Fifteen inductees into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame were honored during the fourth annual ceremonies held at the Holiday Inn San Gabriel Ballroom in Monrovia Friday from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. and attended by 135 persons. Nominees "must have contributed substantially to the sport of stock car racing."
Honorees were: Drivers--Allen Adkins, Len Sutton, Sam Hanks, Dick Meyer and Ernie Irvan. Owners-Mechanics-Manufacturers-Sponsors--Bob Estes, Vel Miletich, Floyd Johnson, Tom Hamilton, Leon Ruther, Richard Elder.
Promoters-Officials-Media Members-Event/Series Sponsors--Ron Ail, Harry Schilling and Marion Collins. Inducters from the 1946-1969 era were: Adkins,Ail, Sutton, Estes, Hanks, Miletich, Schilling, Meyer, Johnson and Rush. Inducteesfrom the modern era (1970 to present) were: Irvan, Ruther, Hamilton, Elder and Collins.
Master of ceremonies Craig Armstrong, a former Portland racing promoter, gave the opening remarks. He introduced racing personalities present, including Parnelli Jones, Hershel McGriff, Jimmy Insolo, Jack McCoy, Walt James,Alice Hanks, Ken Clapp, Kevin Green, Mike David, Joe Nava and executives from California Speedway. Bob Butcher, of Motor Racing Outreach, gave the invocation before a two-hour banquet of salad, filet mignon and cheesecake desert.
The two hour induction ceremonies commenced with acknowledgement of recently deceased WCSCHofF members Parker "Parky" Nall and Carl Dane. The widow and children of driver Sonny Easley, a past inductee, could not be located in the year he was inducted. This year they accepted his award on stage. Brief histories and accomplishments of all 15 inductees were read in alphabetical order and inductees or family members accepted induction plaques. Inductees present to accept their awards were Collins, Irvan and Ruther. Sutton was unable to attend because of recent surgery. Alice Hanks, widow of the 1957 Indy 500 winner, accepted his award from Doug Stokes, of IrwindaleSpeedway. Clapp presented the son and grandson of Meyer his induction award. The late driver who lost his life coming home from an early race at Darlington.
Parnelli Jones, a long-time business and racing partner of Miletich, made the presentation to Miletich's son Duchin. Larry Collins made the presentation to his father Marion, builder and promoter of Mesa Marin Raceway. He read a proclamation from the mayor of Bakersfield honoring Marion by naming July 22 Marion Collins Day. McCoy was involved in the presentations for Ail, Irvan and Elder, who died at 56 in 1997. Walt James recalled Estes, who died at 88 four years ago. Nava made the presentation to Hamilton's wife in his absence. Johnson' s widow Gussie accepted his award. Insolo presented Ruther his plaque. McGriff spoke about Oakland Speedway owner Schilling, who was ill and unable to attend. McGriff also accepted the award for his fellow Oregonian Sutton and said he wanted to attend, but his doctor said he should not travel.
Tim Meyer, publisher of Racing News West in St. George, UT., founded the WCSCHofFin 2001 to honor West Coast persons involved in making stock car racing what it is today. Meyer continues as board president. Board members who nominate/elect members are Craig Armstrong, Ken Clapp,, Kevin Green, Walt James, Owen Kearns, Jack McCoy, Les Richter and Doug Stokes. Annual induction ceremonies have been held for four years at a hotel near Irwindale on the night before the NASCAR Grand National West race in July at Irwindale Speedway.
By Tim Kennedy
Los Angeles, CA. - The 4th annual West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame induction banquet took place Friday, July 22 from 7:00 to 11:10 p.m at the Holiday Inn in Monrovia with 165 persons in attendance. My July story covered the induction ceremonies, but my notebook had many other notes of interest that did not fit a news story format. Hence this column will cover those notes in random order as I wrote them in my notepad.
Well-known drivers in the audience included retired driver Ernie Irvan (voted one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers), 1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones, legendary Hershel McGriff, Jimmy Insolo, Jack McCoy and current Grand National West driver Mike David. Mike's sponsor Randy Lynch, Bennett Lane Winery of Calistoga, CA, provided complimentary wine at every table. New track president Gillian Zucker and PR chief Dennis Bickmeyer represented Fontana's California Speedway. I sat at a table with Art Hendrick, the father of USAC Midget driver Kara Hendrick, who lost her life at 22 in 1991 at El Cajon. Her twin brother Kenny, a stock car driver, now resides in North Carolina. Art's Paramount, CA buddy Paul Parkko, owner of the No. 88 Olds that Don Noel drove in Winston West races, joined our group. Tim Meyer, who spearheads the annual induction and serves on the committee, and his family, completed our friendly group. The late Sonny Easley was a 2003 WCSCHofF inductee, but his family was unable to attend ceremonies that year. His widow Sonya, two daughters and a son attended this year to accept his plaque. Sonny died 27 years ago. Presenter Ken Clapp (current Stockton 99 Speedway promoter) revealed, "I saw my first race as a teenager when my father took me to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds mile on Sept. 28, 1952. Chuck Stevenson won the 100-lap main that day in the No. 16 Bessie Lee Paoli Springfield Welding Offy and racing lost rising star Joe James." Joe's brother Walt, 82, was a presenter. Walt told me his recent heart surgery at the VA Hospital in West LA was successful. His energetic persona has not changed a bit and he said, "Guys who outran me I've outlived." Clapp spoke about deceased inductees Sam Hanks, Allen Adkins, Bob Estes, Floyd Johnson and Dick Meyer, who died in a 1954 auto accident returning from Darlington, S.C. Clapp said inductee Vel Miletich was a businessman/car owner who loved being around racing like current car owner Jack Roush. He said long-time Oakland Speedway owner Harry Schilling will turn 89 soon and owned cars raced by Johnny Soares and Ben Gregory. Clapp mentioned inductee Len Sutton was unable to attend from his home in Oregon after recent surgery. He related a story about Len racing an Oldsmobile at Bay Meadows horse race track in San Mateo during 1954. He rolled it, but finished third. Len was voted into the Oregon All Sports Hall of Fame. Alice Hanks, widow of versatile racer Sam, attended and looked as she did decades ago. Notes about inductees:
ALLEN ADKINS--won 30+ jalopy mains at the Tulare Thunderbowl, He raced in NASCAR's convertible division and had the style of Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. He retired in the early 1960s and went into the auto parts business. He died from Alzheimer's. His widow Pat and son Wayne attended and accepted his plaque.
RON AIL--racing promoter who presented more NASCAR Pacific Northwest races than anyone. Racers loved to race for him because he was a generous man and provided front money to racers. He was unable to attend and McCoy accepted his award.
MARION COLLINS--the native Texan came to Bakersfield and owned Oildale Tire with his brother and won the 1974 Bakersfield Speedway mini stock championship. He built and opened Mesa Marin Raceway in 1977. He has promoted 44 GN west; 51 Southwest Series races at Mesa. Marion staged the first NASCAR truck demonstration race on 7/30/94. It became the current NCTS series in early 1995 and Mesa hosted the high-dollar series through 2003. He started the innovative high school racing series in 1997. Wife Shirley and sons Larry and Gary help Marion operate the track that is closing after the October 13-15 NASCAR extravaganza. Son Larry said Bakersfield's mayor proclaimed July 22, 2005 Marion Collins Day. When Marion spoke he related a story about opening his dream track in 1977 and telling a NASCAR rep "no one is going to tell me how to run MY track." He also said, "People are the most important in the world and my family."
RICHARD ELDER--ran the "racing farmers" team from Caruthers, CA with his brother Ray driving. They had 47 GN West wins and in 1971-72 beat all Winston Cup regulars in the Riverside road race. They also raced at Daytona Beach. Richard died 7/20/97 at age 56. McCoy presented his plaque to Richard's nephew Kendall, Ray's son.
BOB ESTES--after WW II he opened a Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Inglewood, CA and in the 1950s owned racing cars. Bill Taylor won the Pacific Coast Championship and Eddie Gray raced stocks for him. Bob also owned midgets, sprints and Indy cars for drivers Joe James and then Don Freeland for decades. His racing mechanics included Jud Phillips and A. J. Watson. Bob died at age 88 in 2001. His son Dale was unable to attend.
TOM HAMILTON--started Stock Car Products in Santa Fe Springs, CA in 1969 and owned stock cars raced by Insolo, Tim Williamson, Jim Cook, Rob Esau and Vince Giamformaggio. He sold his firm and retired in 1978. Tom did not attend but current GN West car owner Joe Nava presented his award to wife Sheila and son Steve. Joe said Tom gave him his first job in racing--cleaning parts.
SAM HANKS--a 1st Lt in the Army Air Corps in WW II, he is known for his open wheel prowess and 1957 Indy 500 victory. Sam was a major force from 1954-57 in West Coast stock car racing in Bill Stroppe's Mercury. He finished second in AAA 1954 national points and third in 1957 USAC National stock car points. He retired after 1957 and was Indy's Director of Racing to 1979. Sam personified all that is good in racing and excelled at everything he tried. He died at age 79 in June 1994.
ERNIE IRVAN--second generation driver who began racing karts in 1968 at Salinas and in 1975 at 16 stock cars at Stockton. In 1981 he moved to N.C with $700 in his pocket to race. He worked as a welder and won nine late model races at Concord. He raced in the Winston Series for Mark Reno in 1987 and won his first Cup race in 1991 at Bristol. He won the 1991 Daytona 500 in the No. 4 Kodak Chevy and later moved to Robert Yates Ford team. Ernie was injured severely and doctors gave him a 10% chance to live. He made a miraculous comeback in 1995 but another crash in 1999 in practice at Michigan forced him to retire. His Cup record shows 22 poles, 15 victories, 68 top fives and 124 top tens and $11 million in earnings. NBC-TV rated his comeback one of the all-time greatest in sports. Today Ernie lives wife his wife Kim and two children and is busy with the Race to Safety Foundation. McCoy presented Ernie his plaque. Ernie addressed the audience and thanked Ivan Baldwin, Sonny Easley, Mark Reno, Dale Earnhardt, Sr whose Chevrolet dealership sponsored him, his mechanic Tony Glover and car owner Yates.
FLOYD JOHNSON--late car owner for Jim Cook and on 9/11/60 they won at the Sacramento mile. After Cook's serious crash at Riverside in 1970 Floyd went back to sportsman stock car and later became GN West technical director. His widow Gussy accepted his award.
DICK MEYER--the CA driver mentored Marvin Panch and raced in the South. His son Dick and grandson Adam accepted his plaque and his son said, "This is so special with Ernie, Hershel and Parnelli being here. My dad didn't like your attitude Parnelli, but he said you had ability."
LEON RUTHER--car owner who started at Saugus in 1962 and won 28 times in GN West. His drivers included Roman Calzinski, Ron Hornaday, Sr, Bill Schmitt, Jimmy Insolo, Dan Press and M. K. Kanke in SW Tour. Insolo presented his award and Leon thanked God for giving him talent, his wife and family for their tolerance. He said some of his favorite wins were Insolo beating Bobby Allison at Ontario and McGriff's victory in the Northwest over Bill Elliott.
VEL MILETICH--car owner and partner of Parnelli in stocks, Indy cars and Formula One. The Czech heritage large man was a partner at Oscar Maples Ford in Torrance in 1956 and then bought the business, renaming it Vel's Ford. He loved racing and race drivers. Vel made money in business and was a cordial gentleman. His drivers were Eddie Gray, Marvin Porter and Parnelli and his team won 30+ NASCAR Pacific Coast mains. Allen Heath raced his No. 97 Ford CRA sprint car. Vel and Parnelli operated 45 retail Firestone stores and three wholesale warehouses to the mid-1980s. At Indy their drivers included Al Unser, Sr., Mario Andretti, Joe Leonard, Kevin Cogan and Danny Ongais. His widow, daughter and son Duchin attended.
HARRY SCHILLING-car and track owner of the long-gone Oakland Speedway. Almost 89 he was too ill to attend. McGriff accepted his award and said he raced at Harry's high-banked, 5/8 mile Oakland track in 1949 when I was 19 or 20 and it was an intimidating place with difference ends.
LEN SUTTON--Long-time stock car and Indy car driver who turned 80 this year. Len and wife Anita reside in Lake Oswego, OR. He penned a book about his career that sold quickly. He is recovering from recent cancer surgery and was unable to attend because his doctor said he couldn't travel. Fellow Oregonian McGriff accepted for Len and recapped his racing career saying, "Len was an open-wheel guy who also raced taxicabs." He spun out in his first race and later became Oregon stock car champion in 1949, 50, 54 and 55. Len raced in the 1954 Mexican Road Race and careened into a ravine trying to avoid cattle and was in a body cast. He won a NW Midget championship for car owner Rolla Vollstedt. In his 1956 debut at the Indianapolis 500 Len flipped and slid down the track in the NE corner when a wind gust caught his Roger Wolcott No. 62. He did not have an Indy ride in 1957, but made his first Indy 500 in 1958 with the No. 68 Jim Robbins Offy. It was eliminated in the first lap turn three multi-car crash and finished 32nd. He raced the Pete Salemi Central Excavating No. 81 successfully on the USAC Championship Trail and won races in it. He teamed with Rodger Ward on Bob Wilke's Leader Car team in a pair of Watson Offy roadsters. They finished the 1962 Indy 500 1-2 with Len second. He also won Indy car races for Wilke and raced a No. 29 USAC Dodge stock car for Ray Nichels during the 1960s. In the tragic 1964 Indy 500 Len had a scary ride through the inferno that claimed the lives of Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs. Len quit racing in 1965 after Mel Kenyon's fiery accident at Langhorne, PA left Mel disfigured. Len follows racing still and rooted for Indy 500 rookie Danica Patrick. He said he also started fourth when he finished second in the 500.
So there is a capsule look at my notebook contents about an informative and enjoyable evening with some great names in racing history. Their accomplishments and stories should give inspiration to current and future generations of racers. The WCSCHofF will ensure that their names and feats are remembered.
2004 West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame Banquet
NASCAR Race Director Mike Verlatti, Bill Sedgwick and Christine Walker
By Tim Meyer
Monrovia, CA - The third annual west Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame induction banquet was held at the Holiday Inn in Monrovia on October 22.
This years event started off with a moment of silence for two hall of fame inductees that past away since the last banquet; Roy Smith and Rodger Ward, both men were champions and gentleman and will be missed.
This years inductees George Jefferson, Parky Nall, Frank Galpin, Bill Sedgwick, Johnny Mantz and Clay Smith included crew chiefs, car owners, and drivers all leaders and each one not only were the best of the west they were the best in stock car racing.
The West Coast Stock Car of Fame would like to thank the sponsors of this event, without their support there would be no Hall Of Fame: William Miller-California Speedway, everyone at NASCAR, Las Vegas Motor Speedways Jeff Motley and Chris Powell, Infinron Raceways Steve Page, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s Stu Grant, Stockton 99 Speedways Ken Clapp, NASCAR Grand National West team owners Randy Lynch,Joe Nava, Bill McAnally And Jeff Lepper of Eagle Awards in Martinez, California.
A couple of people that also made this event come off without a hitch: Bobbie Colgrove and Dusty Brandel of AARWBA, Craig Armstrong did a masterful job once again as master of ceremonies, and Jack McCoy for bring the Plymouth that Johnny Mantz won the first Darlington Southern 500 with.
The next hall of fame banquet will be held once again in Monrovia on July 22, 2005.
2003 West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame Banquet
from left-Rodger Ward, Dick Bown, Bob Beadle and Shav Glick
By Tim Kennedy
Los Angeles, CA.- The second annual West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame induction at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Monrovia July 25 was enjoyable. The site is perfect and the eve of the annual NASCAR Winston West race at nearby Irwindale Speedway is a perfect date. The same banquet room is used for the USAC Western States banquet The room had large, wall-mounted photos of all 12 WCSCHofF inductees. I enjoyed speaking to legendary Hershel McGriff, 75, and fellow drivers Dick Bown, 74, and Lloyd Dane, 77. McGriff retired from driving in April 2002. All three men are WCSCHOF members. Thirty members were inducted at the first induction last July.
Two Indianapolis 500 winners-Parnelli Jones and Rodger Ward-were in the room. I've seen two Indy 500-mile races in person in my 50 years of following racing. Ward (1959) and Jones (1963) won those races. Rodger also won in 1962. Ward, 82, is, gray-haired and thinner than when I last saw him at Irwindale several years ago. He lives in Tustin (Orange County) and needs assistance getting to events because of health problems in recent years. Parnelli escorted inductee Rodger to the stage and said respectful words about him as a competitor. An obviously pleased Ward then addressed the audience. "This is a great surprise for me," he said succinctly. Inductee WARD, a P-38 fighter pilot in WWII, raced Midgets and Indy Cars and was the 1951 AAA stock car champion. He had three NASCAR starts in 1963-64.
Tim Meyer, from St. George, UT, is the WCSCHOF board chairman. Board members are Ken Clapp, Kevin Green, Walt James, Owen Kearns, Jack McCoy and Les Richter. They serve as nominating and selection committee.
Walt James and wife Dottie were present for the induction dinner and mentioned their son-in-law Bobby Lovegren was the horse wrangler in the just released movie Seabiscuit. Walt turned 80 in May and three weeks ago while clearing brush rolled his old, no rollbar tractor at his home in Acton. He was pinned under the tractor and had to dig himself out with his free hand. Walt told the audience about inductee RAJO JACK, a 1930s to 50s black driver of everything. Rajo (real name Gaston) also raced as John DeSoto and got the name Rajo for selling Rajo engine kits to cool Model T Ford engines. Rajo even did stunt driving, which cost him an eye according to Walt. Rajo was born in 1905 at Tyler, TX and raced for the last time at Southern Ascot Speedway in South Gate, CA. He died in 1956 and is buried at Lincoln Cemetery in Carson, CA.
Other Inductees: BOB BEADLE, the promoter at Sky Valley and Skagit Speedways (WA), flew in from his home in Hawaii. He had a long association with NASCAR in the Pacific Northwest and brought selected NASCAR Winston Cup drivers to the NW to race for large purses at Evergreen Speedway. He started the Dirt Cup with Jim Raper and the International Driver Challenge.
DICK BOWN was welcomed into the WCSCHofF by 2002 inductee and long-time rival McGriff. Dick's son Chuck married Hershel's daughter Debbie years ago and Hershel said, "We're relatives of sorts. We still shake hands." Chuck still helps son Chuck and Jim run a school in North Carolina that teaches persons to be a pit crew members. Dick won 14 times in what now is Winston West. Ken Clapp spoke about inductee MARGO BURKE, who died 4/23/01. He said Margo was like a mom to him and got him involved in racing. Margo was a partner/business manager of Bob Barkhimer & Associates that at one time operated 22 speedways in California.
SONNY EASLEY won the first stock car race at Laguna Seca and the closest race at Ontario Motor Speedway (1970-80). He had nine W/W victories and lost his life at age 39 on 1/15/78 practicing at Riverside. ERICK ERICKSON, 86, was ill at home and his son attended to accept the plaque. The post-WW II jalopy and stock car driver was a 1949-50 SCRA stocks champion. He raced Pontiacs and a Buick at the 1954 NASCAR Grand National race at Bay Meadows (San Mateo).
Absent DAN GURNEY, 72, was in Silverstone, England promoting his new Alligator street motorcycle. Dan won Formula I, Indy Car, sports car and stock car races. Dan had two poles and five wins racing NASCAR stock cars from l962-70 (he won four consecutive Riverside 500s at his "home track"). Friend, competitor and Mercury Trans-Am teammate Parnelli Jones accepted for Dan.
Late EDDIE PAGAN went from modifieds to late model stocks in 1955 and beat Parnelli at Bay Meadows in 1956. He drove a Ford for Oscar Maples Ford. Eddie had 62 starts and four victories. He led 40% of all races he entered. Eddie wanted to race more often and moved south to race. He worked for Holman & Moody and then was a principal of Hutcherson & Pagan that built NASCAR chassis and parts for many years. He was known for helping racers.
I sat next to inductee SHAV GLICK, 82, who came from the Pasadena Star-News to the Los Angeles Times. He replaced Bob Thomas as motor sports writer in l969 when Bob joined the new Ontario track in the PR department and later ran his own PR firm. (Thomas is now retired and lives in Santa Fe, N.M). Shav covered golf and horses as well. Awards and NHRA Pomona press room are named for the much revered Glick. Doug Stokes introduced Shav and said, "Shav treats motor sports honestly and makes the sport understandable and not too technical." Shav stated, "Hershel (McGriff) won one of the first races I covered in motor racing." Shav thanked contemporary motor sports writers Bob Thomas and the late Pat Ray (LA Times), Johnny McDonald (San Diego), Owen Kearns (Bakersfield) and late Gordon Martin (San Francisco Chronicle).
Late BOB "Country Boy" ROSS had a 30-year racing career. The 1959 Pacific Coast NASCAR champion had four career triumphs and 122 racing trophies. He was a full-time truck driver who delivered cars to dealerships. His granddaughter Cindy accepted the award for his family. Inductee FRANK PHILLIPS (born 1891) raced from the 1930s to 1951 and won races on the old Oakland mile track. He was a Ford dealer in Chowchilla, CA. Clapp, a NASCAR V-P Western Operations, accepted the plaque for his two daughters who were unable to attend the induction.
2002 West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame
The First Annual West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame banquet took place Friday at the Sheraton-Four Points Monrovia here on the eve of the NASCAR Winston West Jani-King 200 at nearby Irwindale Speedway. The initial 30 inductees were honored in ceremonies attended by approximately 200 persons, including NASCAR Chairman Bill France, Jr, NASCAR executives Brian France and Paul Brooks who flew from Florida for the ceremonies. Winston West race director Mike Verlatti also attended. The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame honors drivers, car owners, mechanics, officials and race promoters/organizers who have made significant contributions to the success and colorful history of stock car racing in the West. Tim Meyer, editor/publisher of Racing News West, was instrumental in making the hall of fame a reality. The second annual induction ceremonies and third West Coast Stock Car Reunion are scheduled to take place on the Winston West race weekend at Irwindale Speedway in the 2003 season. Honorees and guests attended the NASCAR Winston West race and second annual West Coast Stock Car Reunion Saturday from 4to 7PM at the Speedway. They met fans and signed autographs again this year in the track's chalet village area and during the King Taco On-Track Autograph Session. Jack McCoy's purple No. 7 high-winged Dodge Daytona, a vintage No. 29 Hudson Hornet that still started, and Don Basile's No. 15 1946 Ford coupe post-WW II stock car from Carrell Speedway were on display. Following dinner Friday at 7:00 p.m., the Hall of Fame ceremonies commenced at 8:00 p.m. Most of the inductee and family members were able to attend. Inducted were 20 drivers, five car owners and five officials/promoters. Drivers inducted were: 6-time NASCAR Winston West Champion Ray Elder, Bill Amick, Danny Letner, Eddie Gray, Lloyd Dane, Marvin Porter, Ron Hornaday, Sr, Marvin Panch, Hershel McGriff, Scotty Cain, Bill Schmitt, Jack McCoy, Jimmy Insolo, Jim Robinson, Roy Smith, Parnelli Jones, Troy Ruttman, Johnny Soares, Sr, and Lou Figaro. Car owner inductees were: Cos Cancilla, Carl and Jim Dane, Bill Stroppe, Ernie Conn and tire innovator Bruce Alexander. Race organizers/officials inducted into the hall of fame were: J. C. Agajanian, Ken Clapp, Bob Barkhimer, Charlie Curryer and "Coach" Les Richter - track manager of Riverside International Raceway, a founder of IROC and a NASCAR vice-president. For more information on the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Contact us at email@example.com or by phone at 435-635-2257