(Note: This is the fourth of a series of press releases on the 2018inductees into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. The 15thAnnual Induction, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, will be held June 21 at the Meritage Resort in Napa, Calif.)
AVONDALE, Ariz. (June 11, 2018) – Freddie Agabashian and George Bignotti, whose post-World War II competitive careers intersected in the San Francisco Bay area, will be enshrined in the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame as Heritage inductees.
The 15th annual enshrinement ceremonies, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, will be held June 21 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif., the annual kick-off event for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and K&N Pro Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway.
Best known for competing in the Indianapolis 500 after winning four midget championships in Northern California, Agabashian began racing stock cars in 1934 in San Jose, Calif. The Modesto, Calif.-born driver won 500-mile stock car races at the Oakland (Calif.) Mile, as well as events at Southern Ascot in the Los Angeles area.
He last raced in a U.S. Auto Club (USAC) event at Western Speedway in Vallejo, Calif., driving a Dodge D500 for West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Jim Dane.
Agabashian was a veteran of 11 Indianapolis 500s from 1947 through 1957, winning the pole for the 1952 race in the Cummins Diesel Special. His best finish, fourth, was recorded in 1953.
From the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s museum: “An outstanding spokesperson for the sport, the articulate Agabashian was noted for his ability to set up a race car and was in great demand each May for the purpose of ‘test-hopping’ cars for other teams.”
After retiring from driving, Agabashian was a member of the Champion Spark Plug Safety Team which toured high schools throughout America speaking about racing and safety on the streets. The Alamo, Calif. resident died in 1989 at age 76.
A San Francisco native, Bignotti raced stock cars prior to World War II and owned an Oldsmobile campaigned in NASCAR premier series/K&N Pro Series West events in 1954.
Bignotti was a top midget owner in post-war Northern California, his cars winning four Bay Cities Racing Association titles, two with fellow Heritage inductee Freddie Agabashian. He drove midgets as well, once winning 14 of 18 starts.
Bignotti, along with Frank Kurtis, is credited with creating the first Indianapolis roadster. As a chief mechanic, he won a record seven 500s, with AJ Foyt (two), Al Unser (two), Graham Hill, Gordon Johncock and Tom Sneva. Bignotti’s cars won multiple Indianapolis-type championships and 85 races, including setting the USAC Championship record (twice) for 10 wins in a season.
“I’d say he was one of the greatest mechanics that was ever at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Foyt told ESPN upon Bignotti’s death at age 978 in 2013.
Agabashian and Bignotti join Joe Garone, Oren Prosser, Greg Pursley and Bryan R. Sperber in the 2018 WCSCHOF class of inductees. Three additional Heritage figures also are slated for induction: Bill Cheesbourg, Clyde Prickett and Mickey Thompson. All but Prickett are deceased.
The 2018 Induction, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, is open to the public on a limited, space-available basis. Reservation information is available by emailing the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Over the past three years, the induction has helped raise more than quarter million dollars for charitable causes. The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which hopes to see charitable giving reach the $500,000 mark in the next year and a half. The group’s current list of charities and foundations – expected to increase – counts 25 different groups. They include charities dedicated to health, including autism research, children’s cancer, breast cancer and Parkinson’s; education; history; animal rescue; homelessness and military and veterans’ assistance.
For a complete list of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame’s charity partners please go to http://westcoaststockcarhalloffame.com/our-charities/.
About Gateway Motorsports Park
Gateway Motorsports Park is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. Gateway Motorsports Park’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue. Gateway Motorsports Park was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from St. Louis Attractions Association.
West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame
Owen A. Kearns
Gateway Motorsports Park
(618) 215-8888 ext. 119