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.

Dave Byrd
  • One of California’s most versatile short track competitors, the Los Gatos, Calif. competitor won 12 track championships – six on dirt, six on pavement.
  • Byrd, 62, counts at least 140 feature race victories over a career spanning five decades, 1976 through 2015. Among his significant wins was the 2002 IMCA modified Duel in the Desert at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Duel in the Desert.
  • In 1978, Byrd was offered, but turned down, the Rod Osterlund-owned NASCAR premier series car that ultimately went to Dale Earnhardt.
  • Byrd captured the 1983 NASCAR Pacific Coast Region title, competing at several Central California tracks.
  • Byrd is the 2009 Spears Racing League late model champion. He also competed in the now ARCA Menards Series West and NASCAR Elite Southwest Series.
Richie Clyne
  • Classic car collector Richie Clyne had a vision of creating a world-class racing facility in Las Vegas. Where others dreamed and failed, Clyne succeeded with the opening in 1996 of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
  • Clyne sold the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1998 to Speedway Motorsports but continues to be a familiar face during NASCAR Cup Series and other LVMS events.
  • Talented, energetic and artistic describes Clyne, a transplanted New Yorker who currently splits his time between Las Vegas and New Hampshire.
  • Clyne, 62,operates Clyne’s Classic Cars, a seller of antique and classic automobiles and fire trucks. He previously co-owned, with Don Williams, the Auto Collection at the now defunct Imperial Palace on the Las Vegas Strip.
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 Gloy Racing prepared Mercury Capri. Gloy competed in 17 races that year, winning three and finishing among the top five in 12 others.
  • In 1987, he competed in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) with Jack Roush, finishing second in the championship. He shared Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona- winning Mustang with Bill Elliott in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
  • Gloy won the 1988 IMSA event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course driving a Nissan GTP car
  • Gloy raced in the U.S., Europe, Australia and the Far East in 1970s. He won the 1979 Formula Atlantic title.
  • With assistance of Roger Penske, Gloy ran a partial U.S. Auto Club championship car schedule, finishing fifth at the Ontario Motor Speedway. Gloy operated a USAC team in 2002, winning once.
  • Gloy, 73, entered Ford F150s in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for three seasons. His drivers collected three top-five finishes including a second by Tony Roper at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
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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 was the 1993 IMSA GTS champion
  • 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, 64, also is a television broadcaster.
George Snider
  • Born in Fresno, Calif. but living for most of his career in Bakersfield, George Snider, 80, began drag racing at the age of 15 and soon began competing in jalopies, hard tops and supermodifieds.
  • He was one of the first to mount a wing on his No. 72 coupe, winning races at Kearney Bowl in Fresno and on other central California tracks. Snider won the 1964 Johnny Key Classic at the old San Jose Speedway.
  • He won the 1971 U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown championship and was the organization’s final Gold Crown champion in 1981-82.
  • Snider made 22 Indianapolis 500 starts – most by a non-winner – many of them as a teammate to A.J. Foyt.
  • His best Indianapolis 500 finish was eighth, in 1975 and 1978. Snider also competed in USAC stock cars.
  • Snider is a member of the Bob Elias Sports Hall of Fame in Bakersfield.

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, 54, 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-10thin Silver Crown rankings.
  • Bliss changed gears with the creation of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors and RV Truck Series. He won 13 times and captured the 2002 championship, driving for fellow Northwesterner Dave Fuge.
  • Bliss became a fulltime 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, both victories coming at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
  • He was selected to compete in the 2003 International Race of Champions and won the Chicagoland Speedway round.
Craig Keough
  • Many casual race fans may be unaware of Craig Keough’s 25-year impact on West Coast stock car racing. Insiders, however, call the Las Vegas team owner/race sponsor “a legend.” The owner of Star Nursery, Keough entered late model competition with the late Chris Trickle and the driver’s father, Chuck Trickle.
  • The relationship led to a conversation in Tucson, Ariz. with a young driver, Kurt Busch, who asked for $50 to buy tires. Keough wound up purchasing Trickle’s equipment and sponsoring Busch, who won the 1999 NASCAR Elite Southwest Series.
  • Keough’s recognition of Kurt’s talent was the springboard to a Roush Fenway Racing ride in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors and RV Truck Series and ultimately the 2003 NASCAR Cup Series title.
  • Behind the scenes, Keough sponsored numerous events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s “Bullring” and at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. and Madera (Calif.) Speedway. He was responsible for the return of the ARCA Menards Series West to LVMS’ dirt track and – in February 2020 – the circuit’s event at the LVMS Bullring.
Rick Mears

Rick Mears

 

  • Transplanted Kansan Rick Mears grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., the youngest member of the racing Mears Gang comprised of patriarch 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, 68, has remained in a consulting role with Team Penske.
Jim Pettit II
  • Jim Pettit IIwon 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.
  • Between April and September Pettit and his fellow competitors frequently logged two and sometimes three races each week.
  • Capping 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, 54, finished among the top 10 in more than 50 percent of his Southwest Tour starts (54 of 103).
Jerry Pitts
  • Jerry Pitts is a three-time ARCA Menards Series West championship crew chief, winning titles with West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famers, Gregg Pursley, Gene Price and Eric Norris.
  • Arguably among the best crew chiefs over the past 15 years, the Bakersfield, Calif. native turned the wrenches en route to 28 West victories and two ARCA Menards Series East triumphs.
  • Both driver and car builder in the 1970s, Pitts’chassis captured championships at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and Mesa Marin Raceway.
  • In two stints on the East Coast, Pitts worked for Robert Yates Racing, Bahari Racing and Phoenix Racingin both NASCAR premier series and Xfinity Series with nearly two dozen drivers including Michael Waltrip, Bill Elliott, Dale Jarrett and Kyle Busch.
  • Pitts, 58, continues to operate Jerry Pitts Racing in Pahrump, Nev. and is the owner of an ARCA Menards Series West team in 2020.

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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