PHOENIX – John L. Bickford and Anthony (Tony) La Russa have been elected to the board of directors of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
Their election was announced at Phoenix Raceway on March 19, concurrent with the naming of the Hall of Fame’s 2007 class of six inductees.
Bickford, 70, is the step-father, mentor and manager of NASCAR premier series champion Jeff Gordon. The Napa, Calif. native was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in June 2016.
Bickford purchased a quarter-midget race car for Gordon, who began racing at small, California dirt tracks at the age of five. Gordon was ready to compete in sprint cars at age 13 but because of age restrictions, could not race in his native state. Bickford and his wife Carol made the decision to move the family to Indiana, where Gordon’s career quickly ascended.
Although the family had hoped to continue an open wheel career trajectory to the Indianapolis 500, Gordon ultimately took a different path to stock cars – with Bickford’s advice on signing with Hendrick Motorsports and choosing crew chief Ray Evernham a key to his step-son’s success both on and off the track.
A Forbes magazine profile described Bickford – who had no formal education in marketing, public relations or broadcasting - as “unusually optimistic, diligent, observant and conscientious about details.”
La Russa is a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, having spent 33 years as a Major League Baseball manager. He managed the Oakland A’s to the World Series championship in 1989 having previously won three consecutive American League titles.
In 1990, La Russa joined the St. Louis Cardinals and led the team to three National League championships and the 2006 and 2011 World Series titles. His 2,728 wins as a major league manager ranks third all-time.
Following retirement, La Russa became an executive with Major League Baseball and currently is a front office analyst the Arizona Diamondbacks club.
La Russa, 72, and his wife Elaine are the founders of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., which saves abandoned and injured animals as well as running programs to bring dogs and cats to abused children, hospital patients, seniors and shut-ins.
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.
The Hall of Fame currently exists in digital form. Information about enshrinement, sponsors, news releases and photos and archives can be reviewed at the Hall’s Internet site -- www.westcoaststockcarracing.com. The Hall’s future goal and mission is to share with the public - at various locations to be determined - displays of information about its enshrinees and various artifacts pertinent to the sport such as records, archival material, photos, race cars and driver attire such as uniforms and helmets.
Owen A. Kearns
West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Board of Directors
Fax – 661-735-5548