First Time Nominees 2023
Kurt Busch. Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion, began his racing career at age 14 in Dwarf Cars at Pahrump Speedway near his home in Las Vegas, Nev. After winning a hobby car title at Las Vegas Speedway Park, Busch joined the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour and became the late model stock car series’ youngest champion (age 21) driving for West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Craig Keough. A Jack Roush “gong show” graduate, Busch was the 2001 NASCAR Truck Series rookie of the year and championship runnerup – four victories that graduated him to Roush’s Cup Series team. Through 2022, Busch counts 34 victories winning in 20 of 23 fulltime seasons. Those wins, driving for Roush, Penske Racing, Stewart Haas Racing, Ganassi Racing and 23X1 Racing – include the 2017 Daytona 500, the 2010 Coca-Cola 600 and the 2010 Sprint All-Star Challenge. Busch, a rookie, finished sixth in the 2014 Indianapolis 500 and won the Talladega Super Speedway IROC round in 2003. Busch, 44, is the older brother of two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch.
Dick Cobb. Dick Cobb, a native New Yorker, moved to Las Vegas in 1968 at age 20. As driver, car builder, crew chief, driving instructor and mentor, Cobb’s racing career spanned 45 years. Cobb won three sportsman/late model stock car championships at the old Craig Road Speedway, a quarter-mile paved track in North Las Vegas. Following the track’s closure, Cobb won the premier division title at the old Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. He captured four NASCAR Super Late Model Championships at the three-eighths-mile Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as well as the 2000 NASCAR Sunbelt Region title. Cobb also competed in the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour as teammate to NASCAR Cup Series champion Kurt Busch with the Q-Motorsports Team of West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Craig Keough. During his career, Cobb won several hundred feature races. Cobb mentored a lengthy list of Las Vegas drivers and – as instructor at the Richard Petty Driving Experience – assisted West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Brendan Gaughan’s transition from off-road to NASCAR competition.
Matt Crafton. Matt Crafton, a native of Tulare, California, began in karting at age 7, winning regional and national titles. The three-time NASCAR Trucks champion – one of just two competitors to win three or more titles – competed in a variety of West Coast tracks and touring series with his father Danny. The pair’s roles were reversed in 2000 when the younger Crafton won the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour championship in a Ford built by his father. Crafton was hired by Duke Thorson’s ThorSport Racing in 2000 to compete in the Truck Series and finished ninth in his inaugural event at California Speedway. Crafton has competed in 521 consecutive series races, both records for starts and consecutive starts. Sylvania, Ohio based ThorSport – which has fielded Chevrolets, Fords and Toyotas – has been Crafton’s home with exception of the 2004 campaign during which he raced with Kevin Harvick Inc. All of Crafton’s 15 wins have come in ThorSport trucks. The 47-year-old Californian finished 18th in the 2015 Daytona 500, subbing for injured Kyle Busch. He also has scored top-five finishes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Davey Hamilton. Davey Hamilton is a second-generation supermodified star and Indianapolis 500 veteran. A native of Nampa, Idaho, the son of open-wheel pavement legend Ken Hamilton began his racing career in the six-cylinder class at Boise’s Firebird Raceway. He won championship and rookie of the year titles in 1979 and made his supermodified debut a year later with the Canadian American Racing Association (CAMRA). He won three consecutive titles, 1987-89 and from 1990 through 1994 championships in Western States Supermodified Tour, Super Modified Racing Association, Fire and Fury Series and the Madera series. Hamilton competed in 11 Indianapolis 500 races, finishing fourth in 1998. He made 56 Indy Racing League starts, driving for A.J. Foyt, Galles Racing and Dreyer Reinbold Racing teams. Hamilton was runner-up in the championship two times – 1997 for Foyt and 1998 for Nienhouse Motorsports. He scored eight IRL podiums, twice finishing second at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Pikes Peak International Raceway. Hamilton, 60, is a broadcaster with SIRIUSXM Radio and NBC Sports.
Kevin Harvick. Kevin Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion, began racing karts at age five in his Bakersfield, Calif. hometown. At age 17, as a high school senior, he won the 1993 late model championship at the old Mesa Marin Raceway. His career accelerated with four victories in the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour and the ARCA Menards Series West – where Harvick won the 1998 championship. Harvick joined Richard Childress Racing expecting to compete for the 2001 NASCAR Xfinity Series title but was bumped up to the NASCAR Cup Series upon the death of Dale Earnhardt in the Daytona 500. Harvick won the Xfinity Series title and was named rookie of the year in both national series. He won 23 NASCAR Cup Series races for RCR before joining Stewart Haas Racing in 2013. Harvick captured the 2014 title in an SHR Ford and counts 37 victories with the team. Harvick’s victories include the 2007 Daytona 500, the 2011 Coca-Cola 600, three Brickyard 400s and the 2020 Southern 500. With wife Delana, he operated Kevin Harvick Racing from 2004-11, winning the 2006 Xfinity owner title and 2007 and 2009 NASCAR Truck Series owner championships. Harvick, 47, lives in Kernersville, N.C.
Jeff Jefferson. Jeff Jefferson is a three-time NASCAR Elite Series Northwest Tour champion and an ARCA Menards Series West team owner. Jefferson, a resident of Naches, Wash., is the son of West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee George Jefferson. He won the 2003-05 Tour titles, posting 13 victories in 80 starts. Jefferson, 50, also competed on the ARCA Menards Series West, winning once at Portland Speedway in 2000. With West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame crew chief Jerry Pitts, Jefferson purchased the assets of Gene Price Racing in 2005. Their drivers included Noah Gragson, who won five times and was named the 2015 rookie of the year. The team – JP Racing and Jefferson Racing – scored 13 victories in the ARCA Menards Series East and West. Among winning drivers were NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick and Will Rogers. Austin Dillon, Sheldon Creed and William Byron also drove the team’s Fords.
Lyn St. James. Lyn St. James was born Evelyn Gene Conwall in Willoughby, Ohio but has lived in Scottsdale, Ariz. through the majority of her racing and post-competition career. As a sports car competitor, she shared class wins in two Daytona 24 Hour races, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. St. James also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. She started 62 IMSA GT races, winning six times and become the only woman to win a race driving solo. St. James made seven Indianapolis 500 starts and was named the 1992 rookie of the year – the first woman to be honored. Her best finish, 11th, came in 1992 as did her best qualifying effort, sixth. St. James made 15 CART and Indy Racing League starts, with a best finish of eighth at Walt Disney World. Post racing, St. James has been active in furthering the careers of female drivers and was named the 2001 Guiding Woman in Sports by the National Association of Women and Girls in Sports. She was named among the top 100 of Women Athletes of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated magazine. St. James is a member of the Sebring Hall of Fame and Florida Hall of Fame. Her broadcast career includes analyst and pit reporter roles for ESPN and ABC.
Jimmy Vasser. Jimmy Vasser, born in Canoga Park, won the 1986 Sports Car Club of American Formula Ford championship and in 1992 was the runner-up Formula Atlantic points finishers winning six times. Vasser moved to Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) the following year with Hayhoe-Cole Racing, signing with Chip Ganassi Racing for the 1995 season. CART’s last American-born champion, Vasser won nine times for CGR on ovals, road courses and street courses – including the CART street race in Queensland, Australia. His final victory for Team Rahal at Fontana, Calif. is CART’s fastest at an average speed of 197.997 mph. Vasser twice finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500 but the CART/IRL split kept him away from the Speedway during his prime years. He co-owned IndyCar’s KV Racing Technologies and over 14 seasons won seven times including the 2013 500 with Tony Kanaan. Vasser was selected for the International Race of Champions (IROC) and twice finished fourth at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Indianapolis. Vasser, 66, operates Jimmy Vasser Toyota of Napa, California.
Previously Nominated Drivers
Ken Boyd. Ken Boyd was California’s pre-eminent pavement Late Model car racer of the 1980s and 1990s, winning five championships at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway. Boyd was the first to win four consecutive championships (1988-91) at the quarter-mile track, where he recorded 71 victories and 84 fast times during his career – including 39 consecutive fast times, believed to be a national record. His first title came in 1977 at Madera (Calif.) Speedway. The Ceres, Calif. resident finished fourth in the 1991 Whelen All-American Pacific Coast Region, winning 14 times. He also won twice in the NASCAR Elite Division Southwest Series. Boyd, age 68, fielded entries for a number of prominent competitors, including West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Famers Ivan Baldwin, Jeff Gordon and Ernie Irvan. Baldwin was the biggest winner in Boyd equipment, posting 15 of 29 total victories. His other winners were Kenny Kitchens, Chad Nichols and Jim Reich. Boyd spent two decades servicing tracks and traveling series as a provider of tires, fuel and parts.
Austin Cameron. Austin Cameron overcame life-threatening illness to star in the ARCA Menards Series West. Cameron, from El Cajon, Calif., began racing go-karts at the age of nine, eventually graduating to stock cars. He was the rookie of the year at Willow Springs Raceway in Southern California. In 1998, Cameron joined the ARCA Menards Series West, also becoming the season’s top rookie and finishing fourth in the championship standings despite missing the first race. His first of 15 series victories came in 1999, at Irwindale Speedway outside Los Angeles where, in 2003, Cameron returned to capture the Toyota All-Star Showdown featuring late model competitors from throughout the United States. While Cameron failed to win a series title, he finished three times in the point standings, including runners-up in 1999 and 2004. In 2005 Cameron underwent treatment for non Hodgkins lymphoma and a heart transplant. He returned to competition in 2006, winning twice before retirement. Cameron, 55, also competed in all three NASCAR national series.
Mike David. Mike David of Modesto, Calif. is the 2007 ARCA Menards Series West champion. David, 53, competed in 91 NASCAR West Series (now ARCA Menards Series West) events between 2001 and 2012, most of them behind the wheel of the Bennett Wineries Ford owned by 2013 West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Randy Lynch. Three of his seven victories – including David’s first, in 2004 – came at the Stockton 99 Speedway, a quarter-mile paved oval in California’s Central Valley. David, 55, previously captured a Stockton late model title. His final series victory came at Phoenix Raceway in 2008 driving Lynch’s Toyota. David’s ARCA Menards Series West line shows 43 top-five and 66 top-10 finishes and three poles. He finished third in the 2006 Toyota All-Star Showdown at the Irwindale Events Center and also competed in the NASCAR Elite Southwest Series with a best result of second at Madera (Calif.) Speedway.
Eric Holmes. Eric Holmes is a second-generation competitor, who followed his father, Steve, into racing at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway. Holmes, from Escalon, Calif., began racing karts at age eight, winning races and a pair of championships. He drove an occasional street stock race at age 17 and, after a season working on West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Famer Ernie Irvan’s NASCAR Xfinity team on the east coast, returned to California to begin racing fulltime. He won numerous events at Stockton, then began his touring career with West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Famer Allen Beebe. The pair won the 2006 NASCAR West (now ARCA Menards Series West) title, using one car and one engine while also finishing second in NASCAR Elite Southwest Series late model points. In 2008, Holmes joined West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Famer Bill McAnally’s potent Toyota team, repeating as champion the same season, placing second the next and becoming a three-time titlist in 2010. In 13 seasons in the West Series, Holmes won 17 times with 59 top-five and 78 top-10 finishes, as well as 13 poles. Holmes, 48, remains with the McAnally organization as its driver coach and spotter for BMR’s Driver Development program.
Lance Hooper. Lance Hooper is a member of the “Palmdale Posse,” a group of NASCAR racers that raced out of Palmdale, Calif. headed by West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. The 55-year-old Hooper, like Hornaday, is a second-generation competitor whose family raced stock cars throughout Southern California and called Saugus (Calif.) Speedway home. Driving for West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Famer Ray Claridge, Hooper won championships in consecutive seasons – NASCAR Elite Southwest Series in 1995 and the NASCAR West Series (now ARCA Menards Series West) in 1996. Hooper won four times in West; seven times in the late model Southwest Series. Later, Hooper competed in all three NASCAR national series, finishing 10th in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway. Hooper transitioned to a crew chief’s role with nearly 100 events over seven seasons. He posted top-10 finishes with Clay Rogers and Jeff Green and spent a full season at ThorSport Racing with Kerry Earnhardt.
Tony Hunt. Tony Hunt is a multiple U.S. Auto Club champion – with nine sprint car titles, 50 main event wins and 50 pole positions. The Rancho Cordova, Calif. competitor won his first USAC championship in the 1992 Formula Russell Series, as well as several kart titles. Hunt, 50, competed in the ARCA Menards Series West in 1993 and 2000, posting two top-10 finishes including a sixth at Shasta (Calif.) Speedway. He spotted for a number of NASCAR premier series drivers – John Andretti, Stevie Reeves, Ken Schrader and Mike Wallace to name a few. Hunt has instructed at the Jim Russell Racing School, Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Driver School and the Richard Petty Racing Experience. He is an automotive brand ambassador and driving instructor and a stunt driver and most recently was the stunt driving double for Christian Bale’s character Ken Miles in the 2019 film Ford v Ferrari.
Brent Kaeding. For three decades – 1980s, 90s and 00 — second generation competitor Brent Kaeding was virtually unbeatable in open wheel racing in California. The 65-year-old Campbell, Calif. resident is a 13-time Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) sprint car champion – eight of the titles in consecutive seasons. Kaeding won 11 King of California championships and is a 21-race winner at fabled Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway. He is a nine-time World of Outlaws winner, and three-time Dirt Cup winner. Kaeding also won the USAC Turkey Night midget race at Ascot Park in Southern California. Kaeding was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2008. Kaeding finished 29thin his only NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix Raceway and also competed in a NASCAR West Series (now ARCA Menards Series West) event at Sonoma Raceway. His father, Howard Kaeding, is a Heritage inductee into the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Brad Noffsinger. One of the West’s premier competitors in non-winged sprint cars, Brad Noffsinger also raced in the NASCAR Cup Series, became a Cup crew chief and – for 20 years – was an instructor at the Richard Petty Driving School at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Noffsinger, from Huntington Beach, Calif., began his sprint car career in 1979, becoming the California Racing Association’s Rookie of the Year the following season. He won back-to-back CRA titles in 1986-87, at the wheel of the Jack Gardner Jr. sprinter. Noffsinger won 50 CRA features. Noffsinger also competed part-time in USAC’s Silver Crown division, winning once at Memphis Motorsports Park. He moved to the NASCAR West Series (now ARCA Menards Series West) in 1987, then to the Cup Series where over portions of three seasons competed in 17 events, with a best finish of 19th at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In 1997 Noffsinger joined SABCO Racing as the crew chief for Wally Dallenbach Jr. The No. 46 team competed in 18 races with a best finish of 10th at The Glen. Noffsinger, 62, was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2013.
Greg Pickett. Greg Pickett of Alamo, Calif. is the only driver to have won SCCA Trans-Am races in four decades of competition. The 75-year-old Pickett won the 1978 T-A II championship posting four victories in a Chevrolet Corvette. In 1984, Pickett gave Jack Roush his first T-A victory at Sonoma Raceway. Pickett counts a pair of 12 Hours of Sebring class victories (1987, 2010). As an owner in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Pickett’s Muscle Milk stable counted 21 victories and two team and driver championships. He also competed in a pair of NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Series events finishing sixth at the Los Angeles Coliseum and Sonoma Raceway. Prickett is a 2022 inductee into the Sports Car Club of America Hall of Fame.
Nick Rescino. One of the all-time greats to race in California, Nick Rescino won a total of six San Jose Speedway Super Modified championships, at both the paved track and the fairgrounds. Nick won the 1972 and 1975 titles on the high banks of San Jose Speedway and the 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984 championships at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds. His 86 main event wins rank him near the top on that list. Rescino won the prestigious Johnny Key Classic six times, in 1972, 1974-75, 1982, 1984 and 1986. Nick is the only driver in history to win a World of Outlaws A-Feature driving a super modified, at Sacramento, Calif.’s West Capital Raceway June 8, 1979. Rescino set more than 200 career fastest qualifying times at 17 different tracks. The San Francisco competitor was the Motor Sports Press Association’s 1979 Oval Track Driver of the Year. He is a member of the MSPA’s Hall of Fame as well as the San Jose Speedway Hall of Fame.
Sean Woodside. The Saugus, Calif. competitor won the 1999 NASCAR West Series (now ARCA Menards Series West) championship, following two seasons of second-place points finishes. Woodside drove for two West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees – Bill McAnally in his championship season and Ray Claridge. He won seven times – five in Claridge’s Pontiacs and two as a McAnally Chevrolet driver. Three quarters of Woodside’s 74 series starts resulted in top-10 finishes (49). Woodside also won 12 poles. The competitor also raced in the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour, winning twice and also pursued limited schedules in NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. Woodside is 52 years old
Previously Nominated Crew Chief
Ernie Cope. Ernie Cope, 53, is a native of Spanaway, Wash. whose father and uncle built professional dragster engines. His cousin, Derrike, is a Daytona 500 winner and West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee. Cope began racing in the NASCAR Northwest Series at the age of 19, posting 24 top-five finishes in the late model stock car touring series. He finished third in the championship in 1994 and moved to the ARCA Menards Series West the following year, scoring two victories in Lew Miller’s Chevrolet en route to a second-place points finish. Cope swapped driving gloves for a crew chief’s headset, competing in more than 400 national series races. He won nine times in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – six of them with Kevin Harvick. Cope’s NASCAR Xfinity Series record shows 285 races, 16 poles, 15 wins, 106 top fives and 170 top 10s. His drivers finished runnerup in two seasons – Elliott Sadler in 2011 and Chase Elliott in 2015. Cope currently is competition director at JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series.