PHOENIX (June 9, 2016) – For Mike Duncan, baseball’s loss was NASCAR stock car racing’s gain. The Oakland A’s farmhand, drafted by the Major League Baseball club out of the University of Nebraska, has made it to the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame – just not in the sport in which he grew up playing. He will be inducted on June 23.
Duncan faced a choice early in his professional baseball career: remain in the minor leagues with the Modesto A’s in 1987 or return home to help his family keep its Lamont, Calif. farming business above water. Facing an uncertain future in baseball’s crowded minors, he took the latter path, succeeded beyond expectations and found a new sport in which to invest his energy: stock car racing.
Purchasing a late model stock car that Kevin Harvick had raced at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Duncan matriculated through weekly competition, winning the half-mile paved oval’s late model championship.
Owning and driving his own equipment, overseen by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame crew chief Bill Sedgwick was a late blooming phenomenon. He was named the circuit’s rookie of the year in 2000. Then Duncan won back-to-back championships in 2004-05 and was voted Most Popular Driver in 2007, his final season of competition.
Duncan, now 54, won eight times in the division, along with 20 poles and finished more than 60 percent of his 96 races among the top 10.
Duncan was nearly 40 years old when he stepped into his first race car. Many – if not most – successful drivers have raced since they were teenagers.
“He had a lot to learn when he was older” said Sedgwick. “He’s adapted very well, though. The stats show it.” Indeed they do.
Duncan joins John Bickford, 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.