2016 Class Officially Inducted into West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame

PHOENIX – Five 2016 inductees – John Bickford, Mike Duncan, Johnny Key, Al Pombo and Jim Thirkettle - officially became members of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame during June 23 ceremonies at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif. Their induction brings Hall membership to 134. The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, founded in 2001, has enshrined 14 classes beginning in 2002. The annual event, held before a packed ballroom crowd on the eve of Sonoma Raceway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup and K&N Pro Series West weekend, was emceed by Ralph Sheheen, the voice of FOX’s Supercross coverage and a member of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame board of directors. Bickford, from Vallejo, Calif., was inducted by his step son Jeff Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and current member of FOX Sports’ NASCAR broadcast team. “I would not be here without him,” said Gordon of the man who guided his racing career on and off the track from an early age. “He’s obviously relentless, doesn’t give up and doesn’t take no for an answer. Nobody’s more passionate.” Among Bickford’s party was his 89-year-old mother, a cancer survivor. “She’s relentless and competitive; everything I have in me,” he said. “It’s an absolute honor to be up here. I’ve looked at the list of (Hall of Fame members) and it’s hard to believe I’m on the list.” Duncan, a Bakersfield, Calif.-area rancher, played professional baseball in the Oakland As organization before turning to stock car racing. Talent for one equaled success in his newfound passion according to Vance Palm, a longtime friend who handled Duncan’s induction. “He started pretty late on the race track but his focus and drive out of the batter’s box translated into racing,” said Palm of Duncan, who won back-to-back NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships and finished more than 60 percent of his races among the top 10. Duncan, nearly 40 years old when he began racing a late model car previously campaigned by Kevin Harvick at the old Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. “I can’t tell you how honored I am to be part of this (Hall),” he said observing that he’s again part of a racing family he has missed since retirement. “We looked out for each other. It was a great time.” The late Key, inducted by longtime racing writer and photographer Dennis Mattish, was a two-time Racing Roadster Inc. champion and four-time San Jose (Calif.) Speedway champion. He won 54 features plus three “open” events in 1952 – including eight victories in seven days. Key was killed in a midget race in Cincinnati in 1954. “Johnny arguably was the greatest and most popular driver of his time,” said Mattish, recalling Key’s love for purple satin shirts – worn well before driver uniforms existed. Mattish recalled that newspaper headline writers loved him since his name fit even the narrowest columns. The native Texan who raced out of Salinas, Calif. was known as “The Lettuce King.” Among those accepting for Key was his daughter, Patty, who as a child was a trophy presenter – to her father. She once told him, “If you don’t win, I can’t give away this trophy. I was so scared but he’d made up his mind he was going to win – and he did.” Pombo, who raced in four decades and retired from competition in 1970, won more than 500 features in a variety of stock-based cars, as well as seven NASCAR State of California titles. Born in the Azores, Pombo raced out of Fresno, Calif. and passed away in 2010 at age 85. “He was a legendary driver who always was a step ahead of the field,” said inductor Kenny Takeuchi, who as writer and track announcer followed much of Pombo’s career. Noting that rules required frequent winners and point leaders like Pombo to start at the rear of most fields, Takeuchi said Pombo “always drove into the next corner and avoided accidents. He was one tough driver (who) knew his cars and knew his engines. “He was a good friend to all and beloved by friend and foe alike.” Pombo’s son, Anthony, accepted for his father, along with fellow competitor Jim Eiland. “He was humble; told a lot of stories on himself,” said Eiland. “He was very smart, very humble. I was very blessed to get to know him.” Thirkettle, Sylmar, Calif., was inducted by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame board member Ed Justice Jr., whose family joined the Hall in 2012. Thirkettle, 71, won seven championships at Saugus (Calif) Speedway and Mesa Marin. He two NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races among more than 125 victories throughout the western United States. “He was the consummate sportsman racer that battles (and wins) against the better-supported teams,” said Justice. “Many feel Jim could have gone on the big circuit (NASCAR premier series) and have been very successful.” Thirkettle, winner of a U.S. Auto Club (USAC) stock car race at the old Ontario Motor Speedway, also posted a trio of top-10 NASCAR premier series finishes at Riverside International Raceway. He was known affectionately as “The Candy Man” by his legions of fans due to the color of his No. 5 Chevrolets. “You’re only as good as the people behind you,” said Thirkettle, singling out attendee and engine builder Doug Jones “as my secret weapon.” “This is a real honor – and the longest speech I’ve ever made,” he concluded. The 2017 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame will be held again at the Meritage Resort next June. The date will be finalized with release of NASCAR’s 2017 scheduling of activities at Sonoma Raceway.   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.    
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About 2016 Inductee: Jim Thirkettle

PHOENIX (June 20, 2016) - For more than two decades, from the early 1970s through the 1990s, few drivers did it any better or with greater style than Jim Thirkettle of Sylmar, Calif. Thirkettle will be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame on June 23. Now 71, Thirkettle spent three years at UCLA, built his own cars and was both driver and crew chief. The winner of seven track championships and 129 races at 10 different tracks throughout the western United States, Thirkettle was single-minded in pursuit of victory but prided himself on racing “the right way.” Some complained Thirkettle won too frequently but none ever said he bullied his way to success. A self-taught engineer who never raced full time, Thirkettle built his cars and maintained them in a two-car garage outside his northern San Fernando Valley home. His equipment was both fast and pristine. Thirkettle’s 1965 Chevrolet he raced at Saugus Speedway, a flat, third-mile oval outside Los Angeles was painted Candy Apple Red by a friend, Walt Prey, marking the driver forever as “The Candy Man.” Thirkettle won two Saugus championships, as an owner in 1972 and owner-driver in 1974. When the half-mile Mesa Marin Raceway opened in 1977, Thirkettle towed his No. 5 Chevy Camaro north on Interstate 5. He won five open competition championships and 78 races – both records at the now-shuttered track. Thirkettle demonstrated his all-around capabilities by posting three top-10 finishes in NASCAR premier series races at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. He won two NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events along with one NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Series events. Thirkettle also captured a U.S. Auto Club stock car race at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway. Thirkettle joins John Bickford, Mike Duncan, Johnny Key and Al Pombo 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.
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About 2016 Inductee: Al Pombo

PHOENIX (June 17, 2016) - Some drivers win a lot of races. Others excel by accumulating points toward capturing championships. The late Al Pombo, who will be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame on June 23, was the rare competitor who accomplished both. Pombo, born in the Azores on June 3, 1925 and raised in Merced, Calif., won more than 500 feature races in a variety of stock car-based equipment – jalopies, hardtops and NASCAR supermodifieds. He won seven NASCAR state of California titles including six straight championships from 1963-68. Driving the circle 3 numbered cars out of Fresno, Calif., Pombo raced from the late 1940s before retiring in 1971. Pombo won an incredible nine titles at Fresno’s Kearney Bowl and six each at Clovis Speedway and San Jose Speedway. The tracks – each with its own unique length and surface – formed a weekend triad of NASCAR modified stock car competition that reached its peak in the 1960s. Pombo won his first championship in 1954 in San Jose; his last in 1970 at Kearney Bowl. He competed in – and won – numerous open competition events that drew the top drivers of the era. Pombo was the first four-time winner of Sacramento’s famed Gold Cup, in 1961, 1964, 1966 and 1970. Pombo also drove in three NASCAR Grand National stock car events, a series that currently is known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Pombo, who died in 2010 at the age of 85, was inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994. He was the third driver to be inducted into the San Jose Speedway’s Hall of Fame and was similarly honored by several other auto racing groups. Pombo joins John Bickford, Mike Duncan, Johnny Key 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.
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About 2016 Inductee: Johnny Key

PHOENIX (June 15, 2016) - Johnny Key stood tall among the post-World War II drivers who formed the foundation of stock car racing on the West Coast. He will be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame on June 23. Born May 24, 1924 in Wichita Falls, Tex., Key and his family moved to Salinas, Calif. in 1926. Key attended Salinas High School where he excelled as a swimmer. He worked in the area’s lettuce fields and saw racing as a way to a better life. Key won the first race he entered. A two-time Racing Roadster Inc. champion in 1947-48, Key was among a handful of drivers convinced by San Jose (Calif.) Speedway promoter Bob Barkhimer to begin competing in modified street cars known as hardtops. The class was an immediate hit, drawing thousands of fans to Barkimer’s California Stock Car Racing Association, under which the hardtops frequently raced seven days a week throughout much of the state. The CSCRA, its tracks and stars were folded into NASCAR in 1954. Beginning in 1951, Key won four San Jose titles in five years. In 1952, Key won the state championship along with 54 features plus three “open” events. In August, Key captured eight races in seven days. Earlier, Key won a 500-lap race in San Jose by a whopping 18 laps. “He was always on top; in a class of his own,” said rival Al Pombo, a fellow 2016 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductee. Key, who hoped to compete in the Indianapolis 500, began competing AAA-sanctioned midgets and was killed in a June 30, 1954 event in Cincinnati, Ohio. A memorial event in Key’s name was instituted less than two months later in San Jose and continues in Northern California. Key joins John Bickford, Mike Duncan, 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.
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About 2016 Inductee: Mike Duncan

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.
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About 2016 Inductee: John Bickford

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.
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West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2016 Inductees

PHOENIX, Ariz. – A NASCAR K&N Pro Series West double champion, a pair of pioneer hard top competitors, an acclaimed short track racer with multiple titles and an industry agent/marketer comprise the five-member Class of 2016 to be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. The latest inductees – John Bickford, Mike Duncan, Johnny Key, Al Pombo and Jim Thirkettle – were announced March 13 prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Induction of the five will take place June 23 at the Meritage Resort in Napa, Calif. during Sonoma Raceway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series/K&N Pro Series West weekend. This year’s class marks the first time that voting was broadened to include nominees from a variety of historic and present stock car disciplines that include weekly racing competition and tours as well as NASCAR modified stock car racing. Bickford, originally from Vallejo, Calif., is the step-father of four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and current FOX Sports analyst Jeff Gordon. He directed the youngster’s early, open-wheel career in California and Indiana and as Gordon’s de facto agent and off-track tutor, Bickford molded Gordon into a superstar in NASCAR’s post-1990, television-centric era. Duncan, a former minor league baseball player and Bakersfield, Calif.-area rancher, won back-to-back NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships in 2004-05. He was the series’ rookie of the year in 2000 and voted Most Popular Driver in 2007, his final season of competition. Duncan won eight times in the division, along with 20 poles and finished more than 60 percent of his 96 races among the top 10. The late Johnny Key won four championships in roadster and hard top racing, competing in California and Arizona. In 1952, the Salinas, Calif. driver won 54 times – including eight races over a seven-day span in the California Stock Car Racing Association plus three open wheel events. Key suffered fatal injuries during a AAA midget race in Cincinnati, Ohio in June 1954. Pombo, born in the Azores but raised in Merced, Calif., competed in dirt cars, hard tops, sprint cars and super modifieds beginning in 1954 and won more than 500 main events, seven NASCAR super modified titles and numerous championships at short track throughout California before retiring in 1971. Racing out of Fresno, Calif., Pombo also briefly competed in what’s now the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 85. Thirkettle starred as a short track campaigner throughout southern California and became the all-time winner and super stock champion at the now-defunct Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. He won five titles and posted 78 victories at the half-mile paved oval. The Sylmar, Calif. competitor showed his all-around capabilities by posting three NASCAR premier series top 10s at the Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway road course. He won two NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races and one NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Series event. June’s induction ceremonies are open to the general public on a limited, space-available basis. Information is available by emailing the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame at okearns@bak.rr.com.
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2016 WCSCHOF Second Round Balloting Underway

PHOENIX – With a first round of voting complete, 14 nominees remain eligible for induction into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame later this year. The nomination list, which began at 22, will be pared to five inductees as the Hall’s Class of 2016. Second round balloting by the organization’s Board of Directors will continue through the end of January. The final five names will be announced March 12 as part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Induction ceremonies will be held June 23 at the Meritage Resort in Napa, Calif. The event again accompanies the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup and K&N Pro Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway. The 14 nominees include six modern era drivers, five drivers from the pre-1970 historic era, two car owners and one industry agent/marketer. Several careers spanned both eras. They are, in alphabetical order:
  • John Bickford, agent/marketer
  • Mike Duncan, modern era driver
  • Ron Esau, modern era driver
  • Garrett Evans, modern era driver
  • Michael Gaughan, car owner
  • Johnny Key, historic era driver
  • Doug McCoun, modern era driver
  • Jim Pettit II, modern era driver
  • Al Pombo, historic era driver
  • Gene Price, modern era owner
  • Clyde Prickett, historic era driver
  • Oren Prosser, historic era driver
  • Frank Secrist, historic era driver
  • Jim Thirkettle, modern era driver
Hall of Fame nomination information is available from Owen Kearns, 661-735-5548, okearns@bak.rr.com. For additional information about the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, please visit WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com. To obtain details about table sponsorship for the 2016 awards dinner, contact Jenniffer Wentzel at 623-463-5400.
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Three Elected to West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Board of Directors

  PHOENIX, Ariz. – Three longtime members of the motorsports industry – Steve Page, Richard Spencer and Richard (Dick) Woodland – have been named to the board of directors of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. The trio was elected during the organization’s December board meeting. Their election brings to 17 the number of directors governing the nomination and selection of West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductees. Voting by the board on the Class of 2016 has begun and inductees will be announced in March. Next year’s induction ceremonies will take place June 23 at the Meritage Resort in Napa, Calif. during Sonoma Raceway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series/K&N Pro Series West weekend. “The election of our newest directors is recognition of their decades of service within the industry,” said Ken Clapp, chairman of the board of directors. “We are pleased that they have pledged their energies to growing our organization.” Page, president of Sonoma Raceway, joined the motorsports world in 1991, after 11 years working in marketing and special events for Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics. Among other responsibilities with the A’s, he served as the coordinator for the 1987 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Before entering the sports arena, Page spent several years on Capitol Hill as press secretary for U.S. Congressman Leon Panetta. Page is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Page is ranked by the racing industry as one of the foremost and top major speedway presidents in the country and has served on special boards and committees for the motor racing industry to protect the rights of motor sports and its future in the state of California. He was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2014. Spencer grew up around automobiles. His grandfather, Roy Spencer, was a vice president of Packard Motor Co. in the 1950s. Father Beverly (Bev) Spencer, who operated a Buick and Ferrari dealership in San Francisco, owned and raced every significant Ferrari of the 1950-60 era. His drivers included F1 World Champion Phil Hill, Richard Spencer’s life-long friend and neighbor and George Follmer. Richard Spencer, president and vice president of several businesses, is a 39-year member of the Sports Car Club of America and an SCCA competitor for two decades. He was a regional racing champion in 1978 and won the 1980 RDC 4-Hour enduro. Spencer is a member of the board of directors of the Aragon Dons Foundation. Woodland, an entrepreneur and developer, owns Patricia Diane Vineyards as well as partnership in Eberle Vineyards, both in Paso Robles, Calif. He purchased his first NASCAR modified/jalopy in the late 1950s as a 15 year old, racing at the old Atascadero Speedway as well as in Fresno. Following service in the U.S. Army, he relocated to southern California to work in his in-laws’ poultry business and purchased a sprint car, competing with the California Racing Association and other groups. Partnering with Billy and Anne Wilkerson, the cars were raced by many top drivers – including Joe Leonard, Billy Vukovich Jr., Marshall Sargent, George Snider, Bob Hogle and 2016 WCSCHOF nominee Frank Secrist. From 1992 through 2008, Woodland’s Cold Duck Racing, with WCSCHOF member Ron Hornaday Jr. and Rich Woodland Jr., competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. The team made additional starts in NASCAR Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series events. Woodland owns Woodland Auto Display which is affiliated with the Estrella Warbird Museum in Paso Robles. The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame was founded in 2001 and inducted its inaugural class the following year. It memorializes significant contributors to the sport’s development and history – including designers, engineers, mechanics, drivers, racetrack owners, promoters, publicists and members of the motorsports media.  
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Voting Begins for 2016 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Nominees

Expanded Preliminary Ballot Lists 22 Historic, Modern Era Figures PHOENIX, Ariz. – The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame has announced its nominations for the organization’s 2016 induction ceremonies. The star-studded list contains 22 names – easily the most varied in the Hall’s 15-year history – and includes drivers, owners, crew chiefs and others from historic (pre-1970) and modern eras of the sport. It also represents a major departure from past voting under which nominees were required to have a direct connection to a NASCAR premier series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and its predecessors and other national racing groups. The organization’s board of directors recently made eligible all west coast racing figures who have made major impacts toward the expansion and betterment of stock car racing. The Board of Directors’ first round of balloting, from which 12 semi-finalists are to be chosen, ends in early February. A second ballot will choose the five 2016 inductees. The inductees will be named Saturday, March 12, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. The Class of 2016 will be enshrined on June 23 at the Meritage Resort in Napa, Calif. The event again accompanies the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup and K&N Pro Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway. “The expansion of eligibility has allowed the research committee to go back 75 years and create more than 100 biographies of persons deemed worthy of nomination,” said Ken Clapp, chairman of the board of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Here are the 22 nominees by category: Agency/Marketing John Bickford, Vallejo, Calif. As Jeff Gordon’s step father, de facto agent and off-track tutor, Bickford molded Gordon into a superstar in NASCAR’s post-1990, television-centric era. Drivers Mike Duncan, Bakersfield, Calif. NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver and owner champion in 2004-05. Ron Esau, El Cajon, Calif. Inaugural NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour champion in 1986 and track champion at Cajon (Calif.) Speedway. Garrett Evans, East Wenatchee, Wash. Inaugural NASCAR Elite Series Northwest Tour champion in 1985 and operator of Wenatchee Valley (Wash.) Raceway. Rick Henderson, Petaluma, Calif. First west coast driver to win a NASCAR national racing series championship, capturing the 1959 sportsman title. Deceased. Johnny Key, Salinas, Calif. Multiple roadster and hard top champion who won 54 California Stock Car Racing Association events – including eight over an eight-day period – in 1952. Deceased. Doug McCoun, Prunedale, Calif. First west coast driver to win the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series national championship under its modern-day format in 1985. Jim Pettit II, Seaside, Calif. NASCAR Pacific Coast Region champion (1984) and 2004-05 NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour champion. Al Pombo, Fresno, Calif. Winner of seven NASCAR super modified championships and more than 500 races in virtually every kind of car from 1948 through his retirement in 1971. Deceased. Dan Press, Vader, Wash. Innovative manufacturer of racing equipment won 1989 NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour title in 1989 as well as two Saugus (Calif.) Sportsman championships and 38 races. Deceased Clyde Prickett, Fresno, Calif. Won 1955 NASCAR California State Championship for hard tops with one NASCAR K&N Pro Series victory and a seventh-place points finish in a partial season. Oren Prosser, Granada Hills, Calif. Virtually unbeatable at Saugus (Calif.) Speedway, won five sportsman stock car championships at the .333-mile oval in 1964 and 1967-72. Frank Secrist, Oildale, Calif. Won 1951-54 jalopy titles  – then the top division – at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway as well at the 1953-55 titles at Hanford (Calif.) Speedway. Held Daytona International Speedway sportsman qualifying records. Johnny Steele, Carmichael, Calif. Winner of five NASCAR K&N Pro Series races over a five-year span finished among the top five in the division’s points on four occasions. He also competed in 11 NASCAR premier series races between 1965 and 1971. Jim Thirkettle, Sylmar, Calif. All time winner and super stock champion at Mesa Marin (Calif.) Raceway with 78 victories and five championships. Two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West winner but never competed in a full season. Owners Dave Fuge, Sumner, Wash. Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner champion with Mike Bliss (2002) and Travis Kvapil (1994). Prior to moving east, he built late model race cars that dominated NASCAR and other touring circuits in the Pacific Northwest. Michael Gaughan, Las Vegas, Nev. Won NASCAR K&N Pro Series championships in 2001-02 with son Brendan Gaughan. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team posted nine victories with the younger Gaughan and Steve Park. Gene Monaco, Spokane, Wash. NASCAR K&N Pro Series West owner from 1997-2003, collecting four wins and 49 top-10 finishes with Kevin Richards behind the wheel of his No. 85 Monaco Enterprises Chevrolet. Biggest victory was the 1999 Coca-Cola 500 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. Tom Olson, Sonora, Calif. Partnering with Eldon and Doug George, Olson’s Fords captured NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rookie of the year honors for the younger George – a future West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame member – in 1994 and the championship the following year. Gene Price, Parker, Ariz. Price’s drivers – Greg Pursley and Dylan Kwasniewski – won three NASCAR K&N Pro Series West titles (2011, 2013 and 2014). In just 144 series starts, Gene Price Motorsports registered 26 wins and 114 top-10 finishes. Bill Strauser, Walla Walla, Wash. Won the 1994 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship with West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Mike Chase behind the wheel. His equipment won six times over three seasons in the series. Crew Chief Chuck Williamson, Seaside, Calif. Innovative crew chief and strategist who came on northern California’s NASCAR scene in the late 1970s with his late brother and West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Tim Williamson. The pair finished second in its rookie season on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. For additional information about the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, please visit WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com. To obtain details about table sponsorship for the 2016 awards dinner, contact Jenniffer Wentzel at 623-463-5400.
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