Follmer, Henderson, Sargent, Sweikert, Vukovich to enter West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame

BAKERSFIELD, Calif., April 9, 2019 – Two Indianapolis 500 legends, one of the last century’s most versatile competitors and a pair of California stock car racing pioneers comprise the 2019 Heritage Class of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

Bill Vukovich and Bob Sweikert, winners of three Indianapolis 500s between 1953 and 1955, are set for induction later this summer. They are joined by sports car champion George Follmer, two-hemisphere modified campaigner Marshall Sargent and Rick Henderson, NASCAR’s first West Coast national champion.

Their election brings to 11 this year’s West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame class of enshrinees. Induction ceremonies, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, will be held June 20 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif. The event serves as kickoff to Sonoma Raceway’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West weekend.

Previously announced 2019 inductees are NASCAR team owners Gary Bechtel and Bob Bruncati; the late Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs; four-time NASCAR premier series champion Jeff Gordon; NASCAR weekly series national champion Doug McCoun and NASCAR K&N Pro Series champion Eric Norris.

“Phenomenal is an appropriate word to describe the Class of 2019,” said Ken Clapp, chairman and CEO of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. “Our Heritage inductees showed the nation and the world that some of racing’s greatest champions came out of California and the west. Their impact on the sport in the post-World War II era and the mid-20th century was nothing short of incredible.”

This year’s ceremonies mark the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame’s 16th inductions. The event is being held at the Meritage Resort and Spa for the seventh consecutive year. The Hall currently has enshrined 147 individuals, beginning with the 2002 inaugural class.

Biographies of the Heritage Class follow.

George Follmer

  • One of America’s most versatile motorsport figures in the middle of the 20th Century. He collected points in Formula 1, won SCCA Can-Am and Trans-Am titles, won a U.S. Auto Club Championship Car race at Phoenix Raceway and posted top-five finishes in NASCAR’s premier series.
  • Now 83, was born in Arizona, but moved with his family to Southern California shortly thereafter. He raced out of Arcadia, where he owned an auto dealership. He won SCCA’s United States Road Racing Championship in 1965, the organization’s Can-Am title in 1972, subbing for Mark Donohue in Roger Penske’s Porsche 917/10 and SCCA Trans-Am titles in 1972 (Javelin) and 1976 (Porsche).
  • Follmer spent a single season in F1 – 1973 – driving Don Nichols’ UOP Shadow and collected a third-place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix.
  • A year later, Follmer took the wheel of Bud Moore’s Fords in a 13-race NASCAR Cup schedule, logging a fourth-place finish in Atlanta and fifths at Dover and Rockingham.
  • He competed in six NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events – including dirt track events in Gardena and Vallejo, Calif. Follmer also won an International Race of Champions (IROC) event at Riverside International Raceway.

Rick Henderson

  • Petaluma, Calif. competitor was first west coast driver to win a NASCAR national racing championship, capturing the 1959 sportsman title.
  • Henderson also won the State of California Championship in the same season, a title he previously won in 1957 and subsequently won in 1961-62.
  • He won five additional track championships with three coming at San Jose (Calif.) Speedway, one at Kearney Bowl in Fresno, Calif., and one at Santa Rosa (Calif.) Speedway.
  • Henderson competed in a trio of NASCAR premier series/Pacific Coast Late Model events at Oakland and Bay Meadows in San Mateo, Calif. in 1954 at age 22. Henderson passed away in 2001 at age 69.

Marshall Sargent

  • A true international star, the Salinas, Calif. native won an estimated 500 feature races in the United States and Australia during a 20-year racing career.
  • Racing out of San Jose, starred in hard tops and supermodifieds and won the NASCAR State of California championship in 1960. He won 88 races at the old San Jose Speedway, a paved third-mile track, including 1960 and 1963 Johnny Key Classics.
  • Sargent was the 1960 San Jose champion and won titles at Alviso, Salinas and Sacramento.
  • Sargent also competed in the NASCAR premier series, qualifying for the 1961 Daytona 500. He had three top-10 finishes in 12 appearances, the best a seventh at Eureka, Calif. in 1957.
  • Sargent won a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at the Gardena (Calif.) Stadium in 1957, driving the Howard Cams Chevrolet. Sargent died in 1990 at age 59.

Bob Sweikert

  • Born in Los Angeles on May 20, 1926, Sweikert grew up in Hayward, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco. At age 16, became a mechanic at a local Ford dealership. Following service during World War II he opened his own repair shop and built his first track roadster.
  • In 1947, ran first race for prize money at Oakland Speedway in which he finished second. Won Bay Cities Racing Association indoor midget championship in 1949. Began racing sprint cars throughout United States.
  • Attempted but failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1950 and 1951. Made first of five “500” starts the following year, finishing 26th with a broken differential.
  • Won the 1955 “500” in the John Zink Special, leading 86 laps – the only laps he would lead at Indianapolis. In 1955 he captured the original “Triple Crown” – Indianapolis 500, AAA Big Car National Championship and the Midwest Sprint Car Championship, the only driver to do so.
  • After finishing sixth in the 1956 “500,” Sweikert died in a sprint car accident on June 17, 1956 at Salem (Ind.) Speedway.

Bill Vukovich

  • Born on Dec. 13, 1918 in Alameda, Calif. Vukovich grew up in Fresno. The family immigrated from Yugoslavia, changing its surname from Yukurovich. Was known variously as the Mad Russian – a hard charger – and the Silent Serb – a cool demeanor.
  • As a teen during the Depression, began driving the family Model T in farm fields and soon raced modified cars for fellow Fresnan Fred Gearhart. Raced midgets and suffered injuries that ultimately kept him out of World War II.
  • Won United Racing Association’s West Coast midget championship in 1946-47 becoming the AAA National Midget champion in 1950. Attempted but failed to qualify for the 1950 Indianapolis 500 and dropped out of the following year’s “500” after just 29 laps.
  • In 1952, driving for sportsman Howard Keck, Vukovich led on the 92nd lap, only to fall out with steering failure. Vukovich won the 1953 and 1954 “500s.” Setting a race speed record of 130.84 mph in 1954, Vukovich became the third driver to win the “500” back-to-back. Ran the Pan American Road Race in the fall of 1954 but failed to finish.
  • Driving for Lindsey Hopkins, led the 1955 “500” by a large margin but was fatally injured when unable to avoid a multi-car accident on the 57th lap of the May 30 race.

For additional information about the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, please visit WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com.

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.

Media Contacts:

Owen A. Kearns
okearns@bak.rr.com
661-342-2983

Sandra Vorse
sandravorse@gmail.com
704-264-9548

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Central California’s Eberle Winery named Official Vintner of West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame

BAKERSFIELD, Calif., April 2, 2019 – The award-winning Eberle Winery has been named the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame’s official vintner.

The Paso Robles, Calif. winery, which received the prestigious Robert Mondavi Hospitality Award in early March, will provide a selection of its finest vintages to dinner guests at the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame’s June 20 induction ceremonies, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.

“The Hall is extremely pleased to welcome aboard Eberle, not only a fine vintner based in a beautiful part of California but wonderful people to partner with us as they become the Official Wine of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame,” said Ken Clapp, West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame chairman and CEO. “We look forward to a long and tasteful relationship with Eberle.”

“On our end,” says winery owner Gary Eberle, “this was a fantastic opportunity to get our wines in front of an audience that represents some of the best names in stock car racing. We strive to be the best in our industry and we know members of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame have that same passion as well.”

Eberle, established in 1979, is a family-owned business headed by Gary Eberle, a Pittsburgh-area native and onetime defensive football star at Penn State University. He holds degrees from Penn State and Louisiana State University, awards as a National Science Fellow and an enology doctorate from University of California Davis.

The Estrella River winery and tasting room was the first from San Luis Obispo County to distribute nationally. Eberle also was the first to produce a 100 percent Syrah in the United States. Wine Spectator magazine proclaimed him as the “Johnny Appleseed of Syrah” in the 1990s as virtually all of the Syrah grown in the U.S. come from Eberle’s cuttings.

Eberle offers an array of limited production wines including: Chardonnay, Viognier, Cotes-du-Robles Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cotes-du-Robles Rouge and its flagship, Cabernet Sauvignon. Its tasting room located on Highway 46 east of Paso Robles, continues to offer no charge sampling to its guests.

The winery can be found on the Internet and at Instagram at eberlewinery.com. Follow on Twitter @EberleBoar. Eberle’s telephone number is 805-238-9607.

June’s West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductions are the 16th to be held since the organization’s creation in 2001. Its six announced enshrinees are NASCAR team owners Gary Bechtel and Bob Bruncati; Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs; four-time NASCAR premier series champion Jeff Gordon; NASCAR weekly series national champion Doug McCoun and NASCAR K&N Pro Series champion Eric Norris.

An additional five Heritage inductees – industry figures from the pre-1971 era – will be announced in early April. The induction ceremonies kick off the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway.

For additional information about the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, please visit WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com.

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.

Media Contacts:

Owen A. Kearns
okearns@bak.rr.com
661-342-2983

Sandra Vorse
sandravorse@gmail.com
704-264-9548

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Bechtel, Bruncati, Gordon, McCoun, Norris elected to West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame

BAKERSFIELD, Calif., March 16, 2019 – Four-time NASCAR premier series champion Jeff Gordon is among five competitors elected for induction into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
 
Gordon, currently an analyst for FOX Sports’ coverage of NASCAR national series races, is the second driver to be elected to the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Vallejo, Calif. native joins Ron Hornaday Jr., Class of 2013, in both halls of fame.
 
Also elected by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame’s board of directors as the Class of 2019 are NASCAR team owners Gary Bechtel and Bob Bruncati; NASCAR weekly racing series national champion Doug McCoun; and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Eric Norris.
 
The late J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing and elected to the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2018, also will be enshrined. His induction was postponed at the request of Gibbs’ family. The organization also will induct its second Heritage class of five individuals whose careers largely ended prior to 1970. The Heritage inductees will be named in April.
 
The Class of 2019 – the hall’s 16th – will be enshrined June 20 during the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremonies, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, Calif. The event leads into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and K&N Pro Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway.
 
“The Board of Directors of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is honored to recognize this diversified group of individuals who have made such significant contributions to our great sport,” said Ken Clapp, Chairman and CEO of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame

 

Gary Bechtel

  • San Francisco native Gary Bechtel formed Diamond Ridge Racing in 1992, competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with series veteran John Krebs.
  • The team finished fourth in 1992 and third in 1994 championship standings.
  • Diamond Ridge fielded full-season entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series from 1994 through 1997 with Steve Grissom, Greg Sacks and Robert Pressley among others. The team’s best finish, fourth, came with Jeff Green in 1997 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
  • Diamond Ridge’s greatest success came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, posting 10 victories with Elliott Sadler (five), Grissom (three) and Sacks and Green.

The team merged with Joe Gibbs Racing in 1999 with Jeff Purvis finishing sixth in the championship.

 

Bob Bruncati

  • Born in New York City in 1943, Bob Bruncati moved to Southern California as a young man and became interested in sports car racing with the California Sports Car Club SCCA.
  • In 2000, he formed Sunrise Ford Racing so his sons could race late model stocks at the Irwindale Events Center.
  • The owner of Ford dealerships in the San Fernando Valley and Fontana, Calif., Bruncati’s team graduated to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in 2006.
  • Sunrise Ford Racing has competed in more than 284 events, winning 29 times and capturing series championships in 2009 (driver Jason Bowles) and 2013 and 2018 (Derek Thorn). The team’s three drivers ranked 1-2 and 6 in the 2018 championship.

Bruncati’s drivers have posted 14 top-five championship finishes since 2007. He has fielded cars for five Sunoco Rookies of the Year – Bowles, Luis Martinez Jr., Austin Dyne, Dylan Lupton and James Bickford.

 

Jeff Gordon

  • Four-time NASCAR premier series champion Jeff Gordon is the first west coast-born titleholder in NASCAR’s premier series.
  • Gordon won his first championship at age 23 in 1993, his third full season in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He claimed back-to-back titles in 1997-98 and his final crown in 2001.
  • The Vallejo, Calif. native drove Hendrick cars to 11 top-10 championship finishes, winning 93 times in 805 starts – third all-time in NASCAR’s premier series. Gordon posted 325 top-five and 477 top-10 finishes and won 81 poles.
  • He won five NASCAR Xfinity Series races, an International Race of Champions (IROC) event in 1998 and shared the Rolex 24 at Daytona-winning Cadillac DP.i-V.R. in 2017.

Gordon, 47, was enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January 2019 and is an analyst for FOX Sports. His step-father, John Bickford, was elected to the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2016.

 

Doug McCoun

  • Doug McCoun was the first west coast driver to win a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series national championship (1985) under the contemporary points format and second to capture a NASCAR national title from the west.
  • The Prunedale, Calif. resident, driving a late model stock car owned by his father, won 27 of the 53 races he entered at Watsonville and Merced fairgrounds dirt tracks and other northern California ovals in 1985. McCoun also won the organization’s Pacific Coast Region title in 1986.
  • Competing in the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour, McCoun, 60, finished four times among the top five in the championship, his best a pair of third-place finishes. He logged nine wins and 49 top-five and top-10 finishes in the late model touring series.

McCoun has been a professional firefighter in Monterey (Calif.) County for three decades.  

 

 Eric Norris

  • Eric Norris of Redondo Beach, Calif. balanced a career in the entertainment industry with a successful stint in NASCAR racing.
  • Norris, the youngest son of actor and martial arts champion Chuck Norris, won the 2002 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship.
  • He competed in the series from 1996 through 2012, posting three wins, two poles, 18 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes.
  • The majority of his success came in Ultra Wheels Fords, owned by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Class of 2010 inductee Jim Smith.

Norris, 53, also competed in the NASCAR Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck series. Norris has acted in a number of motion pictures and television productions as well as working as stuntman, stunt coordinator and second and main unit director

About the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame:
For additional information about the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, please visit: 
WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com

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.  

 Media Contacts:

Owen A. Kearns    661-342-2983      okearns@bak.rr.com   

Sandra Vorse         704-264-9548     sandravorse@gmail.com

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MEDIA ADVISORY

The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame will announce its Class of 2019 inductees March 16 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. in conjunction with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series events.

When: 10 a.m. PDT/1 p.m. EDT, Saturday, March 16

Where: Auto Club Speedway Media Center

Who: West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Chairman Ken Clapp unveil the names of five enshrinees as voted by the organization’s Board of Directors.

Release with photos of inductees and a short video presentation will be available at the press conference and following on the Hall of Fame’s website, www.westcoaststockcarhalloffame.com.

The 2019 induction ceremony, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, will be held June 20 at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, Calif. in conjunction with Sonoma Raceway’s MENCS and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West weekend.

For additional information please contact:

Owen A. Kearns
661-342-2983
okearns@bak.rr.com 

Sandra Vorse
704-264-9548
sandravorse@gmail.com

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Claridge, Giese, Williams elected to West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Board of Directors

BAKERSFIELD, Calif., February 25, 2019 – The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame has elected a trio of new members to its Board of Directors. Two of the new members, Ray Claridge and Jim Williams, previously were inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. The third, Julie Giese, was named president of ISM Raceway near Phoenix in 2018.

Their election increases the board’s membership to 25.

“It has been the intention of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame since its beginning to be able to establish a board of directors, the members of which, have made significant contributions in various types of businesses all over the country,” said Chairman Ken Clapp. “We are finally in a very fine position with this elite board to guide the Hall to many new, positive changes in the years ahead.”

Claridge, inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2006, owned Golden West Motorsports. His Pontiacs won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship in 1996 with Lance Hooper and twice finished second in the points race (1997-98) with Sean Woodside. Over thee season and 41 races, Golden West Motorsports logged nine wins, 28 top fives, 35 top 10s and seven poles.

The Los Angeles-area resident owned Cinema Vehicle Services for the film industry and upon its sale in 2015 had grown to a 7.5-acre facility with 42,000 square feet of shop facilities and a fleet of 1,100 rental vehicles.

Giese joined ISM’s parent company, International Speedway Corp., in 2001 and has taken on roles with increasing responsibility, from Director of Public Relations at Watkins Glen International to Vice President of Marketing and Communication at Daytona International Speedway where she spent 12 years overseeing all aspects of consumer marketing, branding, creative, advertising, digital, public relations and event entertainment for the “World Center of Racing.”

Prior to assuming the president at ISM Raceway, Giese served as the Managing Director of Business Operations for ISC Design and Development, leading the coordination between ISC’s 13 race tracks, internal corporate department and the Design & Development team on the Company’s significant capital investment and redevelopment projects.

Williams, inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2015, has spent most of his adult life in the food industry working himself up through every aspect to the position of President of Golden State Foods including acquiring the public company through a private transaction in 1980.

In 1985 he began a relationship with Roger Penske starting with a sponsorship arrangement. In 1988 he that broadened to co-investing in track ventures that included California Speedway – now Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. – among others. It began a 30-year friendship that remains today. He has associated with people of all aspects of the motorsports industry including the late Bill France Jr. and Les Richter, as well as Penske, Walt Czarnecki, West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame member Parnelli Jones as well as short track owners and drivers.

The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame will induct its Class of 2019 on June 20 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif. The ceremonies, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, open the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and K&N Pro Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway. The five new inductees will be introduced March 16 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

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.

Contact:
Owen A. Kearns
661-342-2983
okearns@bak.rr.com
www.westcoaststockcarhalloffame.com

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Gordon, Mears among 12 finalists for West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame’s 2019 Class

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (January 9, 2019) – Four-time NASCAR premier series champion Jeff Gordon and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears headline 12 finalists for election into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

Gordon and Mears are among six first-time nominees to emerge from the Hall’s first round of voting that ended Dec. 31, 2018. They are joined on the final ballot by Mike Bliss, Bob Bruncati, Gary Bechtel and Tom Sneva.

Previous nominees advancing to the final vote are George Follmer, Tom Gloy, Tommy Kendall, Doug McCoun, Eric Norris and Jim Pettit II.

Final voting by the Hall’s board of directors continues through Jan. 31. to select the five 2019 inductees, whose identities will be announced during the March 15-17 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Five Heritage candidates from racing’s historic era also will be inducted in the Class of 2019. Their selection will be announced later this spring.

The Class of 2019 will be enshrined June 20, 2019 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif. The event, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, again accompanies the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway.

“Some of the greatest names in American racing history appear on the final ballot, making this year’s induction ceremonies one of the best in the history of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame,” said Ken Clapp, the organization’s chairman. “Each of the 20 nominees on the first-round ballot received votes. A three-nominee tie for 10th has resulted in 12 names being forwarded for the Board’s final vote.

“Each finalist deserves to be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Making a decision on the ultimate five names will be an extremely difficult task for our directors.”

For additional information about the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame or to obtain details about table sponsorship for the 2019 awards dinner, please visit WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com or contact Owen A. Kearns at 661-342-2983, okearns@bak.rr.com. A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public beginning April 1, 2019.

Biographies for the 12 finalists follow (*first time nominee):

Gary Bechtel. San Francisco native Gary Bechtel formed Diamond Ridge Racing in 1992, competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with series veteran John Krebs. Over three seasons, Krebs fashioned 12 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes including a trio of seconds and a fourth at Texas World Speedway in a 1994 combination event with the Automobile Racing Club of American (ARCA). The team finished fourth in 1992 and third in 1994 championship standings. Moving east, Diamond Ridge fielded full-season entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series from 1994 through 1997 with Steve Grissom, Greg Sacks and Robert Pressley among others. The team’s best finish, fourth, came with Jeff Green in 1997 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Diamond Ridge’s best success came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, posting 10 victories with Elliott Sadler (five), Grissom (three) and Sacks and Green. Grissom won at Daytona while Sacks was victorious at Talladega Super Speedway, both in 1996. The team merged with Joe Gibbs Racing in 1999 with Jeff Purvis finishing sixth in the championship.*

 Bob Bruncati. Born in New York City in 1943, Bob Bruncati moved to Southern California as a young man and became interested in sports car racing with the California Sports Car Club SCCA. He raced a Turner roadster for a number of years, until his sons Tony and James became interested in go-karts. In 2000, he formed Sunrise Ford Racing so the boys could race late model stocks at the Irwindale Events Center. The owner of Ford dealerships in the San Fernando Valley and Fontana, Calif., Bruncati’s team graduated to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series (with James) in 2006. Sunrise Ford Racing has competed in more than 284 events, winning 29 times and capturing series championships in 2009 (driver Jason Bowles) and 2013 and 2018 (Derek Thorn). The team’s three drivers ranked 1-2 and 6 in the 2018 championship. Bruncati’s drivers have posted 14 top-five championship finishes since 2007. He has fielded cars for five Sunoco Rookies of the Year – Bowles, Luis Martinez Jr., Austin Dyne, Dylan Lupton and James Bickford.*

Mike Bliss. Mike Bliss won national championships in U.S. Auto Club (USAC) and NASCAR – part of a very small fraternity to accomplish the feat. Bliss, 53, began racing near his Milwaukie, Ore. hometown, at the old Portland Speedway and other northwest tracks. Open-wheel racing beckoned and Bliss eventually reached USAC’s Silver Crown division to become its 1993 champion. His 10 victories rank co-10th in Silver Crown rankings. Bliss changed gears with the creation of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. He won 13 times and captured the 2002 championship, driving for fellow Northwesterner Dave Fuge. Bliss became a fulltime Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor, eventually participating in a combined 538 events. He finished fourth in Richmond Raceway’s 2004 spring Cup race driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Bliss won twice in the Xfinity Series in which he logged 29 top-five and 76 top-10 finishes and three times finished top-five in point standings. Both victories came at Charlotte Motor Speedway, for JGR in 2004 and James Finch in 2011. He was selected to compete in the 2003 International Race of Champions and won the Chicagoland Speedway round.*

George Follmer. George Follmer was one of America’s most versatile motorsport figures in the middle of the 20th Century. He collected points in Formula One; won SCCA Can-Am and Trans-Am titles; won a U.S. Auto Club Championship Car race at Phoenix Raceway and posted top-five finishes in NASCAR’s premier series. Follmer, now 84, was born in Arizona but moved with his family to Southern California shortly thereafter. He raced out of Arcadia, where he owned an auto dealership. He won SCCA’s United States Road Racing Championship in 1965; the organization’s Can-Am title in 1972, subbing for Mark Donohue in Roger Penske’s Porsche 917/10; and SCCA Trans-Am titles in 1972 (Javelin) and 1976 (Porsche). Follmer spent a single season in F1 – 1973 – driving Don Nichols’ UOP Shadow and collected a third-place podium at the Spanish Grand Prix. A year later, Follmer took the wheel of Bud Moore’s Fords in a 13-race NASCAR Cup schedule, logging a fourth-place finish in Atlanta and fifths at Dover and Rockingham. He competed in six NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events – including dirt track events in Gardena and Vallejo, Calif. Follmer also won an International Race of Champions (IROC) event at Riverside International Raceway.

Tom Gloy. Tom Gloy of Lafayette, Calif. was among the most successful Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am Series competitors during the 1980s. He won the 1984 championship driving a Mercury Capri for Roush Racing. Gloy competed in 17 races that year, winning three and finishing among the top five in 12 others. He was the 1979 Formula Atlantic champion and competed in one Indianapolis 500. Gloy also was chosen to compete in the International Race of Champions. Gloy, 71, entered Ford F150s in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series for three seasons. His drivers collected three top-five finishes including a second by Tony Roper at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Jeff Gordon. Four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon is the first west coast- born titleholder in NASCAR’s premier series. Gordon won his first championship at age 23 in 1993, his third full season in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He claimed back-to-back titles in 1997-98 and his final crown in 2001. The Vallejo, Calif. native, whose family moved to Pittsboro, Ind. so the teenage Gordon could race sprint cars, drove Hendrick cars to 11 top-10 championship finishes, winning 93 times in 805 starts – third all-time in NASCAR’s premier series. Gordon posted 325 top-five and 477 top-10 finishes and won 81 poles. He won five NASCAR Xfinity Series races, an International Race of Champions (IROC) event in 1998 and shared the Rolex 24 at Daytona-winning Cadillac DP.i-V.R. in 2017. Gordon, 47, will be enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January 2019. His step-father, John Bickford, was elected to the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2016.*

Tommy Kendall. Tommy Kendall, a Santa Monica native, dominated the SCCA Trans-Am Series in the 1990s, capturing four driving titles in the first eight years of the decade (1990, 1995-96-97). From 1995 to 1997, while piloting Jack Roush-owned Ford Mustangs, Kendall claimed 16 wins and 27 poles in 38 Trans-Am races. In 1997, on his way to his fourth and final Trans-Am title, Kendall scored wins in the first 11 of 13 races that season. Kendall also made 14 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, mostly on road courses with a best finish of eighth at Watkins Glen International and made two appearances in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Kendall, 62, also is a television broadcaster.

Doug McCoun. Doug McCoun was the first west coast driver to win a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series national championship (1985) under contemporary points format and second to capture a NASCAR national title from the west. The Prunedale, Calif. resident, driving a late model stock car owned by his father, won 27 of the 53 races he entered at Watsonville and Merced fairgrounds dirt tracks and other northern California ovals in 1985. McCoun also won the organization’s Pacific Coast Region title in 1986. Competing in the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour, McCoun, 60, finished four times among the top five in the championship, his best a pair of third-place finishes. He logged nine wins and 49 top-five and top-10 finishes in the late model touring series.

Rick Mears. Transplanted Kansan Rick Mears grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., the youngest member of the racing Mears Gang comprised of father Bill and older brother Roger. Rick drove a Chevrolet stock car at Bakersfield Speedway, where Roger was a frequent winner. The pair excelled in dune buggy competition at Ascot Park and ultimately desert racing throughout the southwest United States and in Baja California. West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Parnelli Jones took an interest in Rick, who shared Jones’ off-road trucks and posted multiple class victories. Safety equipment manufacturer Bill Simpson introduced him to U.S. Auto Club championship cars, leading to a career-long association with Roger Penske. With Penske, Mears became one of just three to win the Indianapolis 500 four times – and continues to hold the record for poles (six) and front row starts (11). He won the 500 in 1979, 1983, 1989 and 1991. He won three USAC titles (seven wins) and three Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) titles (26 wins). Mears was selected to four International Race of Champions (IROC), finishing second at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Following retirement, Mears, 47, has remained in a consulting role with Team Penske.*

Eric Norris. Eric Norris of Redondo Beach, Calif. balanced a career in the entertainment industry with a successful stint in NASCAR racing. Norris, the youngest son of actor and martial arts champion Chuck Norris, won the 2002 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship. He competed in the series from 1996 through 2012, posting three wins, two poles, 18 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes. The majority of his success came in Ultra Wheels Fords. Norris, 53, also competed in the NASCAR Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck series. Norris has acted in a number of motion pictures and television productions as well as working as stuntman, stunt coordinator and second and main unit director.

Jim Pettit II won the 1984 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Pacific Coast Region championship at age 19. Pettit was one of the most accomplished northern California dirt track late model stock car competitors, competing at tracks in San Jose, Antioch, Watsonville and Merced. During his championship season – in which total points/starts were tabulated – Pettit raced on Saturday in California, then with two crew members towed overnight to Portland Speedway, barely making it in time for a Sunday afternoon event. The Seaside, Calif. driver won two NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour championships back to back (2004-05), winning eight times. Pettit, 53, finished among the top 10 in more than 50 percent of his Southwest Tour starts (54 of 103).

Tom Sneva. From supermodifieds to the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, Spokane, Wash.’s Tom Sneva more than earned the nickname “The Gas Man.” Sneva, a high school math teacher and bus driver after graduating from Eastern Washington State University, was a top competitor on the Canadian-American Modified Racing Association (CAMRA) before catching the eye of U.S. Auto Club owners – most notably Roger Penske and later West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer George Bignotti. Driving for Team Penske, Sneva became The Captain’s first champion (USAC, 1977). He won back-to-back 500 poles in 1977-78, ultimately winning the race in 1982 – the last 500 triumph by chief mechanic Bignotti. Sneva won 10 Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) events, notably four of them at ISM Raceway in Phoenix. He competed in eight NASCAR premier series races with a best finish of seventh in the 1983 Daytona 500. Sneva, 70, was selected to five International Race of Champions (IROC) events, posting a best finish of second in 1985 at Daytona International Speedway.*

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 a half million dollars for charitable causes. The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 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/.

Contact:
Owen A. Kearns
661-342-2983
okearns@bak.rr.com

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Attorney Charles Custer elected to West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Board of Directors

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (January 9, 2019) – The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the election of San Francisco attorney Charles (Chuck) Custer to its Board of Directors.

Custer is a senior partner at Gordon & Rees LLP and is the National Practice Group Leader of the firm’s Product Liability Defense practice group.

His practice focuses on litigation and negotiation of high exposure, catastrophic and complex injury cases. Custer has extensive trial experience, taking more than 25 jury trials – in both state and federal courts – to verdict.

“We’re pleased to have Chuck Custer join our board of directors,” said West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Chairman Ken Clapp. “We are fortunate to have a person with his background on our team.”

Custer has a technical background as an engineer, graduating in 1979 from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering. Custer has served as a board member of the United Way of the Bay Area for more than a decade and has volunteered extensively in coaching youth sports.

Custer is part of an extended racing family, assisting his brother, Joe Custer, for many years in off-road racing that included the famed Baja 1000 and 500 events in Mexico. Joe Custer is executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing. Custer’s nephew, Cole Custer, competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

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 a half million dollars for charitable causes. The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 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/.

Contact:
Owen A. Kearns
661-342-2983
okearns@bak.rr.com

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Jeff Gordon among 20 nominees for West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame’s 2019 inductions

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 10, 2018) – Twenty individuals reflecting the varied history of the motor racing industry, including four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, have been nominated for induction into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

The organization’s ballot, from which the five inductees ultimately will be chosen, contains a pair of NASCAR national touring champions, a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West owner champion and two Indianapolis 500 winners. The list spans historic (pre-1970) and modern eras of the sport. Seven individuals are nominated for the first time.

First-time nominees are Gordon; multiple NASCAR national series team owner Gary Bechtel; NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion Mike Bliss; NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship owner Bob Bruncati; NASCAR K&N Pro Series champion Mike David; four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears and Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva.

Nominated again after appearing on previous ballots are Ernie Cope, Ron Esau, Garrett Evans, George Follmer, Tom Gloy, Lance Hooper, Tommy Kendall, Doug McCoun, Eric Norris, Jim Pettit II, Greg Pickett and Boris Said.

Joe Gibbs Racing executive J.D. Gibbs, elected to the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2018, also will be enshrined. His induction was postponed at the request of Gibbs’ family. The organization will induct its second Heritage class of five individuals whose careers largely ended prior to 1970. The Heritage inductees will be named in spring 2019.

“We are rapidly approaching our 20th year as the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame and I can’t recall ever having a stouter list of nominees from many walks of competition who have touched all forms of stock car racing,” said West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame chairman Ken Clapp. “As I look at these 20 nominations, I am not yet sure how I’m going to vote. I am certain all of our board members will be equally challenged.”

The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame annually nominates for induction worthy individuals who competed in traditional stock car racing as well as other full-bodied racing vehicles primarily on road courses under international and national sanction by the FIA, International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), GRAND-AM and the Sports Car Club of America.

The Board of Directors’ first round of balloting, from which 10 semi-finalists are to be chosen, begins later this month and ends Jan. 4, 2019. Final voting begins Jan. 11, 2019 and ends Jan. 31, 2019 with the five inductees to be named during the March 8-10, 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

The Class of 2019 will be enshrined June 20, 2019 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif. The event, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, again accompanies the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway.            

Here are the 20 nominees by category (*first time nominee):

Driver/Promoter

Garrett Evans Three-time NASCAR Elite Series Northwest Tour champion (1986, 89, 94). All-time series victory leader (50). All-time pole winner (55). Evans also has two Southwest Tour wins. Competed in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Continues to operate Wenatchee Valley (Wash.) Raceway.

Car Owner

Gary Bechtel. San Francisco native Gary Bechtel formed Diamond Ridge Racing in 1992, competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with series veteran John Krebs. Over three seasons, Krebs fashioned 12 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes including a trio of seconds and a fourth at Texas World Speedway in a 1994 combination event with the Automobile Racing Club of American (ARCA). The team finished fourth in 1992 and third in 1994 championship standings. Moving east, Diamond Ridge fielded full-season entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series from 1994 through 1997 with Steve Grissom, Greg Sacks and Robert Pressley among others. The team’s best finish, fourth, came with Jeff Green in 1997 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Diamond Ridge’s best success came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, posting 10 victories with Elliott Sadler (five), Grissom (three) and Sacks and Green. Grissom won at Daytona while Sacks was victorious at Talladega Super Speedway, both in 1996. The team merged with Joe Gibbs Racing in 1999 with Jeff Purvis finishing sixth in the championship.*

Bob Bruncati. Born in New York City in 1943, Bob Bruncati moved to Southern California as a young man and became interested in sports car racing with the California Sports Car Club SCCA. He raced a Turner roadster for a number of years, until his sons Tony and James became interested in go-karts. In 2000, he formed Sunrise Ford Racing so the boys could race late model stocks at the Irwindale Events Center. The owner of Ford dealerships in the San Fernando Valley and Fontana, Calif., Bruncati’s team graduated to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series (with James) in 2006. Sunrise Ford Racing has competed in more than 284 events, winning 29 times and capturing series championships in 2009 (driver Jason Bowles) and 2013 and 2018 (Derek Thorn). The team’s three drivers ranked 1-2 and 6 in the 2018 championship. Bruncati’s drivers have posted 14 top-five championship finishes since 2007. He has fielded cars for five Sunoco Rookies of the Year – Bowles, Luis Martinez Jr., Austin Dyne, Dylan Lupton and James Bickford.*

Competition Director/Crew Chief

Ernie Cope. Ernie Cope, 49, is a native of Spanaway, Wash. whose father and uncle built professional dragster engines. His cousin, Derrike, is a Daytona 500 winner. Cope began racing in the NASCAR Northwest Series at the age of 19, posting 24 top-five finishes in the late model stock car touring series. He finished third in the championship in 1994 and moved to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West the following year, scoring two victories in Lew Miller’s Chevrolet en route to a second-place points finish. Cope swapped driving gloves for a crew chief’s headset, competing in more than 400 national series races. He won nine times in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – six of them with Kevin Harvick. Cope’s NASCAR Xfinity Series record shows 285 races, 16 poles, 15 wins, 106 top fives and 170 top 10s. His drivers finished runnerup in two seasons – Elliott Sadler in 2011 and Chase Elliott in 2015. Cope currently is competition director at JTG Daugherty Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Drivers

Mike Bliss. Mike Bliss won national championships in U.S. Auto Club (USAC) and NASCAR – part of a very small fraternity to accomplish the feat. Bliss, 53, began racing near his Milwaukie, Ore. hometown, at the old Portland Speedway and other northwest tracks. Open-wheel racing beckoned and Bliss eventually reached USAC’s Silver Crown division to become its 1993 champion. His 10 victories rank co-10th in Silver Crown rankings. Bliss changed gears with the creation of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. He won 13 times and captured the 2002 championship, driving for fellow Northwesterner Dave Fuge. Bliss became a fulltime Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor, eventually participating in a combined 538 events. He finished fourth in Richmond Raceway’s 2004 spring Cup race driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Bliss won twice in the Xfinity Series in which he logged 29 top-five and 76 top-10 finishes and three times finished top-five in point standings. Both victories came at Charlotte Motor Speedway, for JGR in 2004 and James Finch in 2011. He was selected to compete in the 2003 International Race of Champions and won the Chicagoland Speedway round.*

Dave Byrd. Dave Byrd is one of the most versatile west coast stock car drivers of his era, having won six championships on dirt and six championships on pavement at seven different tracks. In 1978, he was offered, but turned down, the Rod Osterlund-owned NASCAR premier series car that ultimately went to Dale Earnhardt. Byrd’s crowning achievement was winning the 1983 NASCAR Pacific Coast Region championship, driving a late model stock car on several northern California dirt tracks. The Los Gatos, Calif. resident also raced for many years in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and Southwest series, posting two top-five and 12 top-10 finishes on the latter tour. His last big victory was in 2002 when he won the Duel in Desert at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is by far the biggest IMCA race anywhere in the western United States. Sixteen states were represented with 144 drivers in attendance. Byrd, 60, has at least 140 feature race victories over a career spanning five decades – 1976 through 2015.

Mike David. Mike David of Modesto, Calif. is the 2007 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion. David, 51, competed in 91 K&N Pro Series events between 2001 and 2012, most of them behind the wheel of the Bennett Wineries Ford owned by 2013 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductee Randy Lynch. Three of his seven victories – including David’s first, in 2004 – came at the Stockton 99 Speedway, a quarter-mile paved oval in California’s Central Valley. David previously captured a Stockton late model title. His final series victory came at ISM Raceway in 2008 driving Lynch’s Toyota. David’s K&N Pro Series line shows 43 top-five and 66 top-10 finishes and three poles. He finished third in the 2006 Toyota All-Star Showdown at the Irwindale Events Center and also competed in the NASCAR Elite Southwest Series with a best result of second at Madera (Calif.) Speedway.*

Ron Esau. Ron Esau won inaugural NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour championship (1986) and finished third in the 1987 standings, winning six times in the late model stock car series. The 64-year-old Lakeside, Calif. native ran 55 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races from 1975-98, posting three poles, eight top fives and 20 top 10s. His best finishes, two seconds, came at Willow Springs (Calif.) Raceway and Tucson (Ariz.) Raceway Park. He competed full-time in the series in 1983-84 finishing ninth and fifth, respectively. Esau also competed in the NASCAR premier series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, with a ninth-place finish in the latter subbing for injured Ken Schrader at Evergreen (Wash.) Speedway in 1995. Esau’s best Cup finish (in 17 starts) was a 14th-place performance in the 1976 Winston West 500 at Riverside International Raceway. Esau won the 1978 El Cajon Stock Car Racing Association (Calif.) sportsman championship.

George Follmer. George Follmer was one of America’s most versatile motorsport figures in the middle of the 20th Century. He collected points in Formula One; won SCCA Can-Am and Trans-Am titles; won a U.S. Auto Club Championship Car race at Phoenix Raceway and posted top-five finishes in NASCAR’s premier series. Follmer, now 84, was born in Arizona but moved with his family to Southern California shortly thereafter. He raced out of Arcadia, where he owned an auto dealership. He won SCCA’s United States Road Racing Championship in 1965; the organization’s Can-Am title in 1972, subbing for Mark Donohue in Roger Penske’s Porsche 917/10; and SCCA Trans-Am titles in 1972 (Javelin) and 1976 (Porsche). Follmer spent a single season in F1 – 1973 – driving Don Nichols’ UOP Shadow and collected a third-place podium at the Spanish Grand Prix. A year later, Follmer took the wheel of Bud Moore’s Fords in a 13-race NASCAR Cup schedule, logging a fourth-place finish in Atlanta and fifths at Dover and Rockingham. He competed in six NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events – including dirt track events in Gardena and Vallejo, Calif. Follmer also won an International Race of Champions (IROC) event at Riverside International Raceway.

Tom Gloy. Tom Gloy of Lafayette, Calif. was among the most successful Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am Series competitors during the 1980s. He won the 1984 championship driving a Mercury Capri for Roush Racing. Gloy competed in 17 races that year, winning three and finishing among the top five in 12 others. He was the 1979 Formula Atlantic champion and competed in one Indianapolis 500. Gloy also was chosen to compete in the International Race of Champions. Gloy, 71, entered Ford F150s in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series for three seasons. His drivers collected three top-five finishes including a second by Tony Roper at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Jeff Gordon. Four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon is the first west coast- born titleholder in NASCAR’s premier series. Gordon won his first championship at age 23 in 1993, his third full season in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He claimed back-to-back titles in 1997-98 and his final crown in 2001. The Vallejo, Calif. native, whose family moved to Pittsboro, Ind. so the teenage Gordon could race sprint cars, drove Hendrick cars to 11 top-10 championship finishes, winning 93 times in 805 starts – third all-time in NASCAR’s premier series. Gordon posted 325 top-five and 477 top-10 finishes and won 81 poles. He won five NASCAR Xfinity Series races, an International Race of Champions (IROC) event in 1998 and shared the Rolex 24 at Daytona-winning Cadillac DP.i-V.R. in 2017. Gordon, 47, will be enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January 2019. His step-father, John Bickford, was elected to the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2016.*

Lance Hooper. Hooper is a member of the “Palmdale Posse,” a group of NASCAR racers that raced out of Palmdale, Calif. headed by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. The 51-year-old Hooper, like Hornaday, is a second-generation competitor whose family raced stock cars throughout Southern California and called Saugus (Calif.) Speedway home. Driving for West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Ray Claridge, Hooper won championships in consecutive seasons – NASCAR Elite Southwest Series in 1995 and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 1996. Hooper won four times in K&N; seven times in the late model Southwest Series. Later, Hooper competed in all three NASCAR national series, finishing 10th in a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series event at Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway. Hooper transitioned to a crew chief’s role with nearly 100 events over seven seasons. He posted top-10 finishes with Clay Rogers and Jeff Green and spent a full season at ThorSport Racing with Kerry Earnhardt.

Tommy Kendall. Tommy Kendall, a Santa Monica native, dominated the SCCA Trans-Am Series in the 1990s, capturing four driving titles in the first eight years of the decade (1990, 1995-96-97). From 1995 to 1997, while piloting Jack Roush-owned Ford Mustangs, Kendall claimed 16 wins and 27 poles in 38 Trans-Am races. In 1997, on his way to his fourth and final Trans-Am title, Kendall scored wins in the first 11 of 13 races that season. Kendall also made 14 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, mostly on road courses with a best finish of eighth at Watkins Glen International and made two appearances in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Kendall, 62, also is a television broadcaster.

Doug McCoun. Doug McCoun was the first west coast driver to win a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series national championship (1985) under contemporary points format and second to capture a NASCAR national title from the west. The Prunedale, Calif. resident, driving a late model stock car owned by his father, won 27 of the 53 races he entered at Watsonville and Merced fairgrounds dirt tracks and other northern California ovals in 1985. McCoun also won the organization’s Pacific Coast Region title in 1986. Competing in the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour, McCoun, 60, finished four times among the top five in the championship, his best a pair of third-place finishes. He logged nine wins and 49 top-five and top-10 finishes in the late model touring series.

Rick Mears. Transplanted Kansan Rick Mears grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., the youngest member of the racing Mears Gang comprised of father Bill and older brother Roger. Rick drove a Chevrolet stock car at Bakersfield Speedway, where Roger was a frequent winner. The pair excelled in dune buggy competition at Ascot Park and ultimately desert racing throughout the southwest United States and in Baja California. West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Parnelli Jones took an interest in Rick, who shared Jones’ off-road trucks and posted multiple class victories. Safety equipment manufacturer Bill Simpson introduced him to U.S. Auto Club championship cars, leading to a career-long association with Roger Penske. With Penske, Mears became one of just three to win the Indianapolis 500 four times – and continues to hold the record for poles (six) and front row starts (11). He won the 500 in 1979, 1983, 1989 and 1991. He won three USAC titles (seven wins) and three Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) titles (26 wins). Mears was selected to four International Race of Champions (IROC), finishing second at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Following retirement, Mears, 47, has remained in a consulting role with Team Penske.*

Eric Norris. Eric Norris of Redondo Beach, Calif. balanced a career in the entertainment industry with a successful stint in NASCAR racing. Norris, the youngest son of actor and martial arts champion Chuck Norris, won the 2002 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship. He competed in the series from 1996 through 2012, posting three wins, two poles, 18 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes. The majority of his success came in Ultra Wheels Fords. Norris, 53, also competed in the NASCAR Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck series. Norris has acted in a number of motion pictures and television productions as well as working as stuntman, stunt coordinator and second and main unit director.

Jim Pettit II won the 1984 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Pacific Coast Region championship at age 19. Pettit was one of the most accomplished northern California dirt track late model stock car competitors, competing at tracks in San Jose, Antioch, Watsonville and Merced. During his championship season – in which total points/starts were tabulated – Pettit raced on Saturday in California, then with two crew members towed overnight to Portland Speedway, barely making it in time for a Sunday afternoon event. The Seaside, Calif. driver won two NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour championships back to back (2004-05), winning eight times. Pettit, 53, finished among the top 10 in more than 50 percent of his Southwest Tour starts (54 of 103).

Greg Pickett. Greg Pickett of Alamo, Calif. is the only driver to have won SCCA Trans-Am races in four decades of competition. The 71-year-old Pickett won the 1978 T-A II championship posting four victories in a Chevrolet Corvette. In 1984, Pickett gave Jack Roush his first T-A victory at Sonoma Raceway. Pickett counts a pair of 12 Hours of Sebring class victories (1987, 2010). As an owner in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Pickett’s Muscle Milk stable counted 21 victories and two team and driver championships. He also competed in a pair of NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Series events finishing sixth at the Los Angeles Coliseum and Sonoma Raceway.

Boris Said. Boris Said is best known for his sports car successes while being an acknowledged “road course ringer” in NASCAR. Said, born in New York City but living throughout his career in Carlsbad, Calif., won the 2002 SCCA Trans-Am championship and the 2004 Rolex Grand-Am GT title. Driving a BMW, Said shared back to back GT class victories in the 1997-98 24 Hours of Daytona. Said won 10 times in the Rolex Series. He competed in the LeMans 24 Hour race, won in GT cars in Germany and also raced in Australian Super Cars. Said, whose father Bob was a pioneer post-World War II sports car driver, won poles in all three NASCAR national series. Although recognized for his road racing prowess, Said captured the pole for the 2006 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke 400 at Daytona International Speedway and finished fourth. He won a NASCAR Xfinity Series race in Montreal as well as a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series event at Sonoma Raceway. He frequently was called on to tutor NASCAR’s top stars on the art of road racing. The 56-year-old Said’s final NASCAR premier series start came in August at Watkins Glen International.

Tom Sneva. From supermodifieds to the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, Spokane, Wash.’s Tom Sneva more than earned the nickname “The Gas Man.” Sneva, a high school math teacher and bus driver after graduating from Eastern Washington State University, was a top competitor on the Canadian-American Modified Racing Association (CAMRA) before catching the eye of U.S. Auto Club owners – most notably Roger Penske and later West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer George Bignotti. Driving for Team Penske, Sneva became The Captain’s first champion (USAC, 1977). He won back-to-back 500 poles in 1977-78, ultimately winning the race in 1982 – the last 500 triumph by chief mechanic Bignotti. Sneva won 10 Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) events, notably four of them at ISM Raceway in Phoenix. He competed in eight NASCAR premier series races with a best finish of seventh in the 1983 Daytona 500. Sneva, 70, was selected to five International Race of Champions (IROC) events, posting a best finish of second in 1985 at Daytona International Speedway.*

For additional information about the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, please visit WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com or contact Owen A. Kearns at 661-342-2983. To obtain details about table sponsorship for the 2019 awards dinner, contact Jenniffer Wentzel at 623-463-5400. A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public beginning April 1, 2019. Inquiries should be forwarded to jwentzel@ISM.com.

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.

Contact:

Owen A. Kearns
661-342-2983
okearns@bak.rr.com 

Posted in Blog, News | Leave a comment

West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inducts 11-member 2018 class

AVONDALE, Ariz. (June 26, 2018) – The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame conducted its 15th Annual Induction Ceremony, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, on June 21. The latest 11 inductees bring the Hall’s membership to 152, dating to its inaugural class of 2002.

Present for induction were former NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion crew chief and Furniture Row Racing president Joe Garone; Southern California short track champion Oren Prosser; ISM Raceway president Bryan R. Sperber and longtime NASCAR and sprint car owner Richard “Dick” Woodland, as well as K&N Pro driver and hardtop champion Clyde Prickett, a member of the Hall’s first Heritage class.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series West double champion Greg Pursley was unable to attend the inductions due to illness. Inducted posthumously were five-decade race announcer Larry Albedi and Heritage members Freddie Agabashian and George Bignotti, early stock car and midget competitors and Indianapolis 500 legends; Bill Cheesbourg, an Arizona stock car champion and Indianapolis 500 competitor and drag racing and off-road racer and organizer Mickey Thompson.

The induction ceremonies were held at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.

Ken Clapp, chairman of the Hall’s board of directors, told attendees, “I thank each and every person in this room for your continued belief and support of the hall as we enter out 15th year. Never in the world did any of us realize that we would reach the heights we have.

“Nor did we ever think we would someday be able to gift to those less fortunate – and especially children, military and animals – nearly $400,0000 in less than four years. A thank you to those who have made that possible.”

National Speed Sport publisher and television personality Ralph Sheheen served as master of ceremonies for the event. Previously inducted Hall of Fame members in attendance included Clapp, Allen Beebe, John Bickford, Rick Carelli, Mike Duncan, Ed Justice Jr., Owen A. Kearns, Bill McAnally, Hershel McGriff, Steve Page, Bill Sedgwick, Jim Williams and Kenny Takeuchi.

Some induction evening highlights:

Carelli, a 2009 inductee, recalled his close relationship with Garone. The two, along with team owner Marshall Chesrown – enshrined in 2014 – won two NASCAR championships and more than 30 races in three touring divisions.

“We logged a lot of laps together; good times and bad times,” Carelli said. “He had a great vision and to me, this isn’t a surprise.  It was his drive: pushing, pushing, pushing.”

“I heard about this (being elected) and I thought, ‘me?’ The shock was substantial,” said Garone, who held crew chief positions with a trio of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Seriesteams and was NASCAR’s director of competition. Furniture Row Racing, owned by Barney Visser, won the 2018 MENCS championship with driver Martin Truex Jr.

Longtime journalist, television commentator and competitor Dick Berggren inducted Pursley, who was unable to attend whilethe Southern California native recovers from cardiac surgery. In addition to winning a pair of K&N Pro Series West titles – and 20 victories in just 100 starts – Pursley captured the 2004 NASCAR weekly series national championship.

“Greg is truly exceptional,” said Berggren. “He didn’t find rides. Rides found him. “

Pursley’s induction comes one year after the hall welcomed into membership his team owner, Gene Price. Tyler Pursley, the driver’s son, accepted his WCSCHOF Spire.  “Gene Price Motorsports is not a shop. We are a family,” he said.

FOX TV’s Michael Waltrip inducted Sperber, who is overseeing a major renovation of the former Phoenix International Raceway, now ISM Raceway. The $178 million project will be completed shortly before the International Speedway Corp.-owned facility hosts the Nov. 9-11 Can-Am 500 weekend.

“What a vision he had,” Waltrip said of Sperber’s plan.

Sperber, a Florida native, said, “Racing was in my blood from my early days.” His 30-year journey has taken Sperber from Daytona Beach to Watkins Glen, N.Y. to Fontana, Calif. and finally the Valley of the Sun.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with a staff (which is) smart, dedicated and passionate,” Sperber said.

Tim Huddleston inducted Prosser, his father-in-law, noting the five-time Saugus (Calif.) Speedway sportsman champion frequently attracted the attention of NASCAR premier series car owners. “That gold ring came time after time but he turned it down for his family,” said Huddleston.

Prosser, 77, admitted his career got off to a slow start. “I was a man with a plan (but) I was a kid with an attitude, banging the wall,” the Granada Hills resident admitted. He pointed to a 20-year relationship with owner/crew chief Donnie Johnson a major reason for his success, which included winning the 1967 NASCAR Permatex 300 at Riverside International Raceway.

“He (Johnson) was the greatest to me,” said Prosser. “We won four championships together and saw country I’d never seen before. If I had it to do over again, I’d never change anything.”

Takeuchi, a longtime publicist and PA announcer, inducted Woodland, a resident of Paso Robles, Calif. Their racing careers intersected at many Central California hardtop tracks.

“I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by a great group” of drivers and industry figures, said Woodland, whose cars were driven by NASCAR and West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame member Ron Hornaday Jr., Parnelli Jones, Billy Wilkerson and his son, Rich Jr. “I’ll always cherish this; an evening I’ll never forget.”

Voting will begin on the next class of nominees in November. The 2019 inductees will be announced in March.

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.

Contact:

West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame

Owen A. Kearns

661-342-2983

okearns@bak.rr.com

 

Gateway Motorsports Park

John Bisci

(618) 215-8888 ext. 119

John.Bisci@Gatewaymsp.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Mickey Thompson among 2018 Heritage inductees into West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame

(Note: This is the sixth and final of a series of press releases on the 2018 inductees into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. The 15th Annual Induction, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, will be held June 21 at the Meritage Resort in Napa, Calif.)

AVONDALE, Ariz. (June 18, 2018) – Mickey Thompson, driver and entrepreneur whose talents touched virtually all corners of motor sport, is among 11 inductees into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

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.

Marion Lee “Mickey” Thompson was born in 1928 in Alhambra, Calif. He was a pioneer in multiple motorsports genres: drag racing, land speed, the Indianapolis 500 and off-road competition.

Thompson, a top fuel drag racer, was the first manager of Lion’s Drag Strip in Wilmington, Calif. He later created SCORE, a preeminent off-road promotional group with events in the U.S. and Mexico.

He was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007, with the organization stating, “From his first day in the “dirt” he fell in love with the sport and his presence in racing, no doubt because of his fame in other forms of racing, made an impact. He was full of ideas and a master at selling his ideas to others, in large part because of the enthusiasm and energy he brought with him.

Thompson also organized indoor and stadium off-road racing under the Mickey Thompson Event Group (MTEG). In 1960, Thompson became the first American to eclipse the 400 mph on land, driving his Challenger I car to a one-way top speed of 406.60 mph on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats.

Thompson brought outside-the-box designed cars to the Indianapolis 500 from 1962-65 and 67-68. His best finish was ninth in 1962. Thompson, the victim with his wife Trudy of a murder-for-hire plot, died in 1988 at age 69. He is a member of multiple halls of fame.

Thompson joins Joe Garone, Oren Prosser, Greg Pursley and Bryan R. Sperber in the 2018 WCSCHOF class of inductees.Four additional Heritage figures also are slated for induction: Freddie Agabashian, George Bignotti, Bill Cheesbourg and Clyde Prickett. 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 jwentzel@ismraceway.com.

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.

Contact:

West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame

Owen A. Kearns

661-342-2983

okearns@bak.rr.com

Gateway Motorsports Park

John Bisci

(618) 215-8888 ext. 119

John.Bisci@Gatewaymsp.com

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