PHOENIX (June 20, 2016) – For more than two decades, from the early 1970s through the 1990s, few drivers did it any better or with greater style than Jim Thirkettle of Sylmar, Calif. Thirkettle will be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame on June 23.
Now 71, Thirkettle spent three years at UCLA, built his own cars and was both driver and crew chief.
The winner of seven track championships and 129 races at 10 different tracks throughout the western United States, Thirkettle was single-minded in pursuit of victory but prided himself on racing “the right way.” Some complained Thirkettle won too frequently but none ever said he bullied his way to success.
A self-taught engineer who never raced full time, Thirkettle built his cars and maintained them in a two-car garage outside his northern San Fernando Valley home. His equipment was both fast and pristine. Thirkettle’s 1965 Chevrolet he raced at Saugus Speedway, a flat, third-mile oval outside Los Angeles was painted Candy Apple Red by a friend, Walt Prey, marking the driver forever as “The Candy Man.”
Thirkettle won two Saugus championships, as an owner in 1972 and owner-driver in 1974. When the half-mile Mesa Marin Raceway opened in 1977, Thirkettle towed his No. 5 Chevy Camaro north on Interstate 5. He won five open competition championships and 78 races – both records at the now-shuttered track.
Thirkettle demonstrated his all-around capabilities by posting three top-10 finishes in NASCAR premier series races at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. He won two NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events along with one NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Series events. Thirkettle also captured a U.S. Auto Club stock car race at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway.
Thirkettle joins John Bickford, Mike Duncan, Johnny Key and Al Pombo in the 2016 WCSCHOF class of inductees.
A limited number of tickets for the 2016 Induction Ceremony can be purchased by calling 661-342-2983.
About the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame:
The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame was conceived in 2001 as a means of recognizing significant contributors and contributions to the sport of stock car racing. The mission of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is founded to preserve history and heritage of the important role west coast stock car competitors have played in the sport’s development and continuation and to recognize, through annual enshrinement, of outstanding individuals and groups within the sport such as, but not limited to, designers, engineers, mechanics, drivers, race track owners, promoters, publicists and members of the motorsports media.