Bob Ross, Frank Phillips, Eddie Pagan, Rodger Ward, Dan Gurney, Margo Burke, Rajo Jack, Erick Erickson, Sonny Easley, Bob Beadle, Shav Glick and Dick Bown.
Dan Gurney began his racing career as an amateur drag racer and sports car driver, and - over the next 20 years - became the Renaissance man of American auto racing. The drag racing began soon after his family moved to Riverside, CA, where as a high school student, he built and drove a car that went 138 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict, he bought a Porsche and won a couple of races in 1956. Two years later, he was racing around the world on the Grand Prix circuit. He won the French Grand Prix in 1962, and finished in the top five in the World Driving Championship standings four times in five years.
But Dan Gurney was interested in other types of racing, too. He returned to his hometown of Riverside in January of 1963 for a NASCAR stock car race on the old Riverside International Raceway road course. Gurney won it easily, and went on to finish seventh in the Indy 500 that same year, driving one of the revolutionary rear-engine cars that were American versions of the Formula One cars he'd been racing in Europe.
He formed his own Eagle racing team in 1965, hoping to win the World Driving Championship and the Manufacturers' championship with an American-designed car. There were a lot of initial problems, but on June 18,1967, Dan Gurney won the Belgian GP in an Eagle. He returned in 1965 to Riverside International Raceway, driving the Wood Bros. Ford and won the second of his five NASCAR Winston Cup, victories including 4 in a row. He became the first race driver to win in all four major categories: Formula One, Indy cars, NASCAR stock cars, and sports cars. His next step was to bring the Eagle back to America, where his racecars won three Indy 500s, as well as national championships in 1968 and 1974.
Gurney retired from driving after the 1970 season. Over the course of his illustrious career, he raced 25 makes of cars in 18 countries, with a total of 37 victories: Seven in Open Wheel cars, 18 in sports cars, and five in stock cars. Dan is unable to be here tonight because he is at Silverstone, England promoting his radical new motorcycle design. Accepting for Dan is his long time friend, and 2002 West Coast Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Parnelli Jones.
Worked for many years as secretary for Bob Barkhimer and Jack London (BCRA business manager) becoming a share holder in Bob Barkhimer and Associates. She was one of the first women in motorsports and a very talented PR person. She is also a member of M.S.P.A. Hall Of Fame.
Thirty years before African American racer Wendell Scott was tearing up race tracks in the South, "Rajo Jack" was winning races up and down the West Coast. "Rajo Jack" was born Dewey Gatson on July 28, 1905 in Tyler, Texas. His father, Noah Gatson, and his mother Frances Scott lived most of their lives in the small town of Tyler. Dewey was the oldest of six children. Noah had steady work with the railroad and that alone may have kept the Gatson family in a slightly better state than the general poverty of blacks in Texas during that era. Doc Marcell hired young Dewey Gatson as a roustabout for the Doc Marcell Medicine Show when he was 16. Dewey quickly proved himself as a talent with all things mechanical and especially anything with wheels and an engine. Dewey modified a truck into a house car for the traveling Marcell family, and kept the other cars, of which there were many, running well. He was eventually in charge of the fleet of 20 vehicles that were part of the Medicine show "empire", in St. Johns, Oregon. He became known as "Rajo Jack" because of the large number of "Rajo" High Performance engine kits that were made for the Model-T Ford that he sold. Dewey would soup up his own cars for better performance with a Rajo kit. Rajo raced and won in everything he drove - stock cars, midgets, big cars and even motorcycles. He also did stunts on motorcycles and it was one of these stunts that resulted in an accident, which blinded him in one eye. Rajo raced at a time when the colored barrier existed, but his talent and the respect he garnered among his peers allowed him access to racing circles in spite of his color. He is still remembered by everyone who knew him as a genuinely nice man and was undoubtedly one of the first African American race drivers in America. Rajo sold auto parts and continued to race and work as a mechanic until his death on February 27, 1956. On his death certificate the name reads Rajo Jack. He is buried in the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Carson, California. Rajo Jack was one of the greatest black drivers of all time, but he is not remembered as a black race driver, rather as a talented race car driver.
Rodger Ward was 14 years old when he built a Ford hot rod with skills he had learned while tinkering with parts in his father's auto wrecking business in Los Angeles. The family had moved there after Ward was born January 10,1921, in Beloit, KS.. That hot rod was an indication the young Ward intended to pursue a racing career, one way or the other. His story might have been much different had not World War II started. He became a P-38 fighter pilot, and he enjoyed flying so much he thought of making it his career. He began to fly B-17's and was so good he was retained as an instructor. But when the war ended, so did the glamour of flying. He was stationed in Wichita Falls, TX, when a quarter mile dirt track was built and his dream of racing was renewed. Ward began racing Midgets after he was discharged from the army in 1946 and spent most of the year at the rear of the pack. In 1947, he began to wangle the occasional top-five finish and then in 1948, he won the San Diego Grand Prix. His aggressive style gained him a loyal following. The following year he raced an Offenhauser and won often enough to keep the ride In 1950, the popularity of Midget racing had peaked, but Ward added the one feat of which he always remained proud. In a feature at Gilmore Stadium, Ward, in a Ford powered car, whipped all the Offys. It was like a Seabiscuit beating War Admiral, but he did it. He felt ready for Indianapolis. He won the AAA Stock Car title in 1951, a feat that brought him attention and a chance at Ianding a rookie test at Indy later that year. He passed and lasted 34 laps in the race before a broken oil line put him out. In 1952, he lasted 130 laps when the oil pressure failed. In 1953, he was out with a faulty ring and pinion after 177 laps. In 1954 he stalled his car on the backstretch and there was some debate if it was his fault for not coming in for gas. In 1956, Ward began to turn a slumping career around. He finished eighth at Indianapolis and made the 500 Club for drivers who lasted the race. In 1959, Ward became part of the Triple W team with mechanic A.J. Watson and team owner Bob Wilke. Finally, there came success at Indy. By virtue of fast pit work, Ward held the lead easily and went on to score his first victory at the Brickyard. He also won the USAC National Championship with victories at Milwaukee, DeQuoin and the Indy Fairgrounds. In 1960, Ward battled Jim Rathmann in the Indy 500. Ward took the lead on lap 183, then Rathmann grabbed it on lap 190. It was Ward, then Rathmann. Finally, Rathmann surged ahead on the 197th lap and went on to win after Ward had to back off because of tire wear. It was Ward's turn in 1962. He was in total command from lap 126 and seemed unbeatable, rolling to his second career Indianapolis 500 victory. He also won the USAC championship again that year and at that point he was the circuit's all time point leader. At age 44, Ward entered his last Indianapolis 500 in 1966. He finished 15th and found he didn't like rear engined cars. He did have a stellar racing career that rose skyward from misfortune, becoming a great representative for the sport he loved. Today, Ward is retired and living in Tustin, California.
Eric Erickson started racing jalopies in the late '40's and graduated to the strickly stocks cars that were becoming very popular after WW ll. His first competitive ride was a 1941 Pontiac straight 8. This was also the family car, Eric's wife did the shopping and ran errands with the war paint still on the car. Despite it being the daily driver for the Erickson family, Eric won the 1949 and 1950 West Coast NASCAR Championship with that car. Eric ran many races up and down the west coast winning his share and always putting on a great show. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. often paid him to take his cars down south and tried to get him to stay. But his roots were out west and that is were he wanted to be. He still lives in the desert town of Mojave, California.
Frank Phillips (with trophy)
Our next inductee into the West Caost Stock Car Hall Of Fame had a career that spanned from before World War ll to 1951. Amongthe major events that Frank Phillips won before the war, were three 250-mile events on the Oakland mile.
Born in Fillmore, California in 1891, Frank moved to Chowchilla, California in 1915. He became a Ford dealer in Chowchilla and -of course-was always behind the wheel of a Ford on the track.
Frank continued his winning ways after the war, with a victory in Livermore, California in 1946. He netted $1,500 for the victory, which came before a crowd of 40,000 fans.
Frank brought his racing career to a close-with his last race coming on October 7, 1951.
The late Eddie Pagan made the choice to move out of modified racing and into NASCAR’S Pacific Coast Late Model circuit in 1955, and never looked back.
A native Califorian Pagan had his greatest success in the Oscar Maples Fords of the late ‘50’s. Perhaps his biggest triumph came in 1956, when he bested Parnelli Jones and a host of east coast NASCAR regulars to win the Bay Meadows 250 on the famed and treacherous one-mile Bulingame, California horse track.
Pagan sat on the Southern 500 pole at Darlington in 1958, and ultimately won 4 Winston Cup races to compliment his 9 Pacific Coast Late Model victories.
pagan co-founded Hutcheson Pagan Engineering, an early leader in Ford Stock Car racing chassis and high performance parts.
It is both interesting and impressive that Pagan lead 40% of the races that he entered. A real “stand on the gas” kind of driver, pagan is an obvious choice for induction in the West Coast Stock Car Fall of fame.
Sonny Easley was a fierce competitor. I know, because I saw his tenacity first hand. He was one of the combatants in the best road course race I ever witnessed. He and Chuck Bown battled lap after lap around the twisting track in Monterey, California, in 1973. When the dust had settled, Easley was headed to victory lane.
Sonny notched eight other series wins in his short career. He finished second in the championship standings for the NASCAR winston West Series in 1973 season, fifth in 1974, and second in 1975. Unfortunately, the racing world lost Sonny in January of 1978 in an accident during practice session for a sportsman race at Riverside International Raceway. He was just 39 years of age. To quote from Jack McCoy’s book, “Racing’s Real McCoy,” “This popular, hard-driving, Southern-talking Virginia native had won nine Winston West events in his young career and was destined for further stardom.” It was not to be.
Our next inductee into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame has a long history in motorsports. In fact, some people say that he covered horse and buggy races - NOT TRUE!
He was a sportswriter for the Pasadena Star News before he went to the LA Times when Bob Thomas retired. Although he primarily covers motorsports, he has reported on golf tournaments, including the British Open. He has received many accolades among which is the press room at NHRA Pomona Dragstrip that is name the “Shav Glick Media Center.”
The American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association honored him three years ago as a “Pioneer in Racing” and his writing has garnered him over 25 first-place and many second place awards in the yearly AARWBA journalism contest.
Valvoline’s Eagle One brand now presents a yearly Shav Glick Award at California Speedway in Fontana.
Slowing down not an option as far as he’s concerned and if he can’t be found in the Media Center at an auto race, just check out the nearest golf course.
To make the presentation to Shav, please welcome to the stage the Director of Public Relations for Irwindale Speedway, Doug Stokes.
Our nest inductee was one of many young, post-WWII drivers who roared on to the stock car racing scene in the early 1950’s. Joining such well-established Pacific Northwest stars as Art “Pappy” Watts, Harold Beal, Carl Joiner, Johnny Kieper and Kuzie Kuzmanich, Dick Bown began a stock-car racing career that would set records and win multiple championships.
By the mid 1060’s Dick Bown, a native of Portland, OR, had extended his name recognition as a top driver to west coast tracks from Canada to the border of Mexico. For years Bown ran everything from the old ELSCAN series in the Northwest to NASCAR’s Pacific Coast Late Model Circuit today, known as the Winston West Series.
Dick had a special affinity for the two circle tracks in portland, the old Jantzen Beach Arena quarter mile. which was razed in 1970, and the Grand Dame of western ovals, Portland Speedway, now, sadly also shuttered. Especially on Portland Speedway’s flat misshapen paved half mile, Dick Bown seemed unstoppable in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The wins just kept racking up, and I recall that back in the 1968-69 seasons, it wasn’t IF Dick Bown would win the feature race, it was how and by how much.
This scenario was repeated at track after western states track, so much so that one Stock Car Racing Magazine writer postulated in 1971 that Dick Bown had won more races than Richard Petty had entered.
The reason for all of this winning was simple. As a racer, Dick Bown was driven, determined and extremely focused. Long before the late Dale Earnhardt was dubbed “The Intimidator”, Dick Bown had perfected the art. Dick was gifted with the uncanny ability to sense the slightest mistake in his opponents, even before they made them.
After OAEA and ELSCAN titles in the 60’s, and a win and 7th place finish in the 1969 NASCAR West points championship, Dick Bown decided to focus on the Winston West Series in 1070, reducing his Northwest Super Stock program to higher profile events. He came right out of the box with a brand new 1970 hemi-powered Plymouth Superbird, the absolute “hot lick” racecar of the era, and began chasing championship points at the combination Winston Cup/Winston West season opener at the old Riverside International Raceway, finishing third in points in 1970 and ‘72 respectively.
Like all of the best drivers of his era, Dick Bown built his own racecars, motors, and specified all chassis’ set-ups. This was a time when the “stock car” really meant STOCK!
Possibly the greatest short-track race I have ever seen anywhere happened in July of 1972 at Western Speedway in Victoria, BC. Two of the finest stock car pilots in north America, Hershel McGriff an Dick Bown, went door-to-door for lap-after-lap on that flat 4/10 miles oval, thrilling the Canadian Winston West fans who packed the grandstands. Dick Bown won that memorable clash by less than a car length, keeping his ‘72 title hopes alive.
On a very personal note, I spent a glorious summer and fall of 1972 as a member of the Bown traveling pit crew. I can’t thank Dick enough for allowing an inexperienced teenager to be a part of his racing team, visit so many great west coast facilities and create all the wonderful memories that will always be with me.
One of my favorites, and this may best illustrate what I said previously about Dick Bown’s focus and determination, happened in August of ‘72 at the Orange Show in San Bernardino’s quarter-mile bullring. In-car 2-way radios were pretty unreliable back then, so we used a chalkboard to communicate with our driver, which was only marginally effective, since Dick as notorious for not seeing, or at least not acknowledging, the pit board. I was the designated “Board Man”, so I trudged out behind the backstretch wall, chalk and board in hand, ready to keep Mr.Bown informed. The race starts and Hershel McGriff is WAY out front, with Ray Elder a distant second, Dick third, and Jack McCoy fourth. As Hershel starts to lap the field, I’m thinking, in my inexperienced teenage way, that I should let Dick know he may be in danger of going a lap down. So I scrawled “04”, Hershel’s number, and an arrow pointing up, meaning that McGriff was coming up on him. After shaking the Board at him for several laps to get his attention, Dick finally acknowledged it, then pulled over and let Jack McCoy drive by! I was shocked, but what I didn’t know was that in the dim track illumination, Dick thought that McGriff was directly behind him and pulled over as a courtesy. For the next 20 laps, Dick made a point to give me the “one finger salute” every time he passes by my backstretch location, while he chased down and finally passed McCoy for third. After the race I was terrified, I thought Dick was going to kill me. While we were loading up the tools and tires, Dick caught up with me, stared directly at me with those steely blue eyes of his and said “I only need to know about the guy right behind me...” Yes sir. and thank you for not shooting me!
Ladies and gentlemen, one of the truly great racecar drivers of all time, please join me in welcoming t the West Coast Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame, Mr. Dick Bown! Presenting to Kick Bown this evening will be his long-time friend, rival, shirt-tail relative and 2002 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductee, Hershel McGriff.
Bob had a varied racing background, competing in jalopies in the early ‘50s and eventually stock cars. In addition, he also loved doing some drag racing-which his wife lorraine says led to many speeding tickets.
After initially being sponsored by itches service stations, Bob was later given a Mercury by Mr. Urich. Bob Took the car to Bill Stroppe’s shop in long Beach to be set up for racing. Bill Stroppe, well known as one of the best race car builders on the west coast, dub Bob “country boy”. Much of Bob’s later success came behind the wheel of a Mercury built and maintained by Cos Cancilla.
Bob finished sixth in on the Pacific Coast Late Model circuit in 1956 and was fifth a year later. The ‘59 season was his year, as he won the championship over the likes of Lloyd Dane, Scotty Cain, Marvin Porter, Parnelli Jones and Eddie Gray.
One of his biggest thrills, meanwhile, was at Hanford Speedway, where he made quite an impression on Fireball roberts by beating him for fast time. Fireball remarked to bob’s wife, “I think that boy is knocking on my front door.”
In addition to his four career wins in the west coast series, Bob led many races and had podium finishes on numerous occasions. those included a terrific runner-up finish to Parnelli Jones at the Sacramento Fairgrounds in 1958 and finishing second to Eddie Gray at the same track in 1961.
As so many racers did in that era, Bob worked on his own car as well as holding down a full-time job - driving a truck. In fact, he worked for Automobile Transport, transporting new cars to dealerships for 31 years.
Known for keeping everything clean and spotless, Bob was considered far ahead of his time in car preparation.
Bob married his wife Lorraine in 1941 and the couple had three children - Bob Jr., Jim and Linda.
Lorraine accepted his Hall Of Fame Honor on behalf of her late husband.
This 2003 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductee put the Pacific Northwest on the auto racing map. He is driver/promoter Bob Beadle. Bob began his racing career in the early 60’s by drag racing his 1961 Olds 88. He started racing open wheel modified in the mid-60’s at Sky Valley Speedway. He was then racing on dirt Friday night at Skagit Speedway, Saturday nights at Sky Valley and mixed in asphalt racing with the Washington Racing Association. Bob became a fan favorite and a fierce competitor with his “no holds barred” driving style.
A racing injury found Bob Beadle promoting and announcing at Sky Valley. After recovering from his injuries, he continued racing at Skagit. However, Bob really enjoyed the promotion and announcing aspects and continued these duties at Sky Valley. Bob then got together with the late Jim Roper at Skagit Speedway to form I.D.C. (International Drivers Challenge), and hold the first, now famous, “Dirt Cup”.
They brought the late Californian Jimmy Gordon, to the Northwest to show local drivers how to race 100 mph in a sideways slide. The IDC was 7 races in 10 days on dirt and asphalt.
With the popularity of the open wheel cars, Bob and Reg Midgley started the ICD for stock cars. To add credence to the event, they brought in legendary Mid-West racer Larry Phillips, who brought along a 16 year old crewman named Rusty Wallace.
The IDC brought Bob together with a young Canadian driver Roy Smith, (a 2002 Hall of Fame Inductee). Roy the driver and Bob the owner won numerous open-camp events and at one time held every track record in the Pacific Northwest. They went on to win 2 of Roy Smith’s 4 Winston West Championships together.
In 1977 Bob, along with Brother John, Reg Midgley and Terry Forsyth formed IPI (International Productions Incorp.).
During his 25 years at Evergreen Speedway, Bob along with the help and encouragement of Brian France, announced the inception of the Motorcraft 500. It was the first 500 lap event held in the west coast since 1950. Bob was also successful in bringing to the Northwest top NASCAR drivers including Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin, Harry Gant, the late Davey Allison, Geoff Bodine, Dave Marcus, David Pearson (1980) and car owner Junior Johnson.
During his promotion of the NASCAR Winston West 500 lap races, Bob’s “Super Speedway of the Norhtwest” holds the NWWS records for: Largest short track purse $158,865.00 (1993), Most lead changes 29 (1990), Most caution laps 105 (1991), Longest race in time 5 hours 20 minutes 43 seconds (1991).
Bob Beadle has been a motivator and innovator for auto racing in the Northwest. However, his story would not be complete without honoring the driving for behind his driving promoting career. His wonderful late wife Dorothy Beadle, I quote Bob “Dorothy was always the one involved with racing. She was always dragging me to the races, she loved them all. She was behind me getting my first race car, my promoting and announcing at Sky Valley, the leasing of Evergreen Speedway and our going with NASCAR. Her love for racing was inexhaustible.”