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.

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.

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, Grissom, 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.

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 more than 30 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.

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, was 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.

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. A reserve firefighter during his early racing years, McCoun currently serves as fire chief of the Marina, Calif. department.

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, began racing in the SCORE off-road series with his father.

He won the 2002 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship, competing 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, 54, 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. He continues to have a busy schedule in the television and motion picture industry including recent TV productions Mayans M.C., Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I.

J.D. Gibbs

The late J.D. Gibbs was born in California but moved several times during his childhood as his father, Joe Gibbs, found success as a Super Bowl championship coach with the NFL’s Washington Redskins.

 

Following college at William and Mary, where he played quarterback, J.D. entered racing fulltime and founded Joe Gibbs Racing alongside his father in 1992. He experienced nearly every facet of the business even changing tires on the car that carried JGR to its first NASCAR victory – the 1993 Daytona 500.

J.D. even took his turn behind the wheel, racing Late Model stock cars and competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Truck Series. But ultimately it was managing JGR where J.D. felt the most comfortable.

Named president of JGR in October 1997 J.D. Gibbs oversaw the team’s expansion from a single-car team to a four-car operation in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Under J.D.’s guidance the team captured three NASCAR Cup Championships and five NASCAR Xfinity Series Championships. J.D. passed away in January at age 49.

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 Sports Car Club of America United States Road Racing, 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 85, was born in Arizona but moved with his family to Southern California. He raced out of Arcadia, where he owned an auto dealership.

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. He competed in six NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events. Follmer also won an International Race of Champions (IROC) event at Riverside International Raceway.

Rick Henderson

Rick Henderson of Petaluma, Calif. 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 captured in 1957 and subsequently won in 1961-62.

Henderson 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. Following his racing career, Henderson worked in the motorsports industry in Central California, passing 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, Sargent 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, Bob Sweikert grew up in Hayward, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco. At age 16, he became a mechanic at a local Ford dealership. Following service during World War II Sweikert opened his own repair shop and built his first track roadster.

Sweikert won the Bay Cities Racing Association indoor midget championship in 1949 and began racing sprint cars throughout United States.

Sweikert attempted but failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1950 and 1951 but made the first of five “500” starts in 1952. He won the 1955 “500” in the John Zink Special, leading 86 laps – the only laps he would lead at Indianapolis. He captured the 1955 “Triple Crown ” -- Indianapolis 500, AAA Big Car National Championship and the Midwest Sprint Car Championship -- the only driver to do so. 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. Bill Vukovich grew up in Fresno. The family immigrated from Yugoslavia, changing its surname from Yukurovich. He became known variously as the Mad Russian – a hard charger - and the Silent Serb – a cool demeanor.

As a teen during the Depression, Vukovich began driving the family Model T in farm fields. He won United Racing Association’s West Coast midget championship in 1946-47 becoming the AAA National Midget champion in 1950.

Vukovich attempted but failed to qualify for the 1950 Indianapolis 500. Driving for sportsman owner Howard Keck, he 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. He also ran the 1954 Pan American Road Race but failed to finish.

Vukovich led the 1955 “500” by a large margin but was fatally injured when he was unable to avoid a multi-car accident on the 57th lap of the May 30 race.

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