PHOENIX (June 6, 2016) – A Forbes magazine article describes 2016 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductee John Bickford as “unusually optimistic, diligent, observant and conscientious about details.” Bickford employed all of those qualities – and a stepfather’s love – for molding a young Jeff Gordon into one of the brightest stars of NASCAR’s modern era.
Bickford, from Vallejo, Calif. didn’t begin the process with an advanced degree in marketing and public relations; rather he melded common-sense instinct for success with Gordon’s innate abilities. By the age of 13, Gordon was driving sprint cars and the family had moved from California to Indiana. Soon, the family hoped, Gordon would reach the Indianapolis 500.
Ultimately, Bickford didn’t have the millions of dollars required to get his stepson an Indy car test. On advice of Ken Schrader, Gordon attended the Buck Baker’s stock car racing school. His racing took a 180-degree turn with Bickford ultimately working behind the scenes to assure the best possible outcome.
Jack Roush was interested but Bickford believed Gordon should have greater control of his future. He approached Rick Hendrick and got Gordon what at the time was unprecedented: Bickford got to pick the crew chief, Ray Evernham.
The rest is history as Gordon won four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships and 93 races with Hendrick Motorsports before his retirement following the 2015 season.
Timing favored Gordon’s ascension. Cable television had just discovered NASCAR and Gordon – thanks to Bickford – was the perfect candidate for superstardom and off the track income. During Gordon’s sprint car racing years, the pair would sit in front of the television and play of game of “what did that driver do wrong” outside the car. The Jeff Gordon seen today as a FOX Sports analyst is further proof of Bickford’s diligence and lessons learned.
Bickford joins Mike Duncan, Johnny Key, Al Pombo and Jim Thirkettle 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.