First-time nominees Clyne, Kaeding, Zajicek, among 10 voted for final ballot consideration
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (January 4, 2021) – Tommy Kendall, Danny Ongais and George Snider, a cross-genre snapshot of premier motorsports history, headline the list of 10 finalists for Class of 2021 election to the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Four-time SCCA Trans-Am Series champion and broadcaster Kendall; USAC championship car 500-mile winner and U.S. Nationals drag racing titlist Ongais; and 22-time Indianapolis 500 starter and USAC Silver Crown Series champion Snider are among seven, multi-time nominees to emerge from the Hall’s first round of voting that ended Dec. 15, 2020.
Six previous nominees who also advance to a final round of voting, are NASCAR weekly series and tracks champion Dave Byrd; NASCAR national series-winning crew chief and Cup Series competition director Ernie Cope; SCCA Tran-Am Series champion and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team owner Tom Gloy; and 1996 ARCA Menards Series West champion and national series crew chief Lance Hooper.
Three first-time nominees –– Las Vegas Motor Speedway builder Richie Clyne; 13-time Northern Auto Racing Club champion Brent Kaeding; and racing equipment master craftsman and problem solver Ronald (Ron) Zajicek — transferred onto the final ballot.
“The West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame is proud to celebrate its 20th anniversary with an amazing group of finalists,” said Ken Clapp, Chairman and CEO. “Our list of finalists certainly will challenge our Board of Directors to separate the best from the very best. Every one of these individuals is more than deserving to be part of the Class of 2021.
“Our inability to host an induction this year was unfortunate on many levels – especially from a charity standpoint. I am certain that our giving will accelerate with a successful 2021 event as the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame looks forward to reaching total charitable donations of $1 million in the next several years.”
Final voting by the Hall’s Board of Directors to select the five 2021 inductees continues through February 8, 2021. Five Heritage candidates from racing’s historic era also will be inducted in the Class of 2021. Their selection will be announced later this spring.
The Class of 2021 will be enshrined Saturday, June 5, 2021 in a unique, double induction with the Hall’s 2020 Class at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif. The event, presented by World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, again accompanies the annual NASCAR Cup Series and ARCA Menards Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway. The 2020 induction was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To obtain media credentials for coverage of the 20th West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame awards, please contact Owen A. Kearns at 661-342-2983. To obtain details about table sponsorship for the 2020-21 awards dinner, please contact Ken Clapp at 925-552-9887 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame annually nominates for induction worthy individuals who competed in traditional stock car racing as well as other 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 Hall also is open to winners and champions of other forms of racing, as determined by the Hall’s nominating committee.
About the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame:
The West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports 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/Motorsports 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.
For more information on the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame visit: www.WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com
Owen A. Kearns
Biographies of the 10 2021 finalists (*first time nominee)
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 Elite Southwest Series, posting two top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. 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, 62, has at least 140 feature race victories over a career spanning five decades – 1976 through 2015. * Previous nominee
Ernie Cope. Ernie Cope, 51, is a native of Spanaway, Wash. whose father and uncle built professional dragster engines. His cousin, Derrike, is a Daytona 500 winner and West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductee. Cope began racing in the NASCAR Elite 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 ARCA Menards 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 Camping World 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 runner-up in two seasons – Elliott Sadler in 2011 and Chase Elliott in 2015. Cope currently is competition director at JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. *Previous nominee
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. Talented, energetic and artistic describes Clyne, a transplanted New Yorker who currently splits his time between Las Vegas and New Hampshire. 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. Clyne 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. Clyne is 66 years old.
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, 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. *Previous nominee
Lance Hooper. Lance 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/Motorsports Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. The 53-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/Motorsports Hall of Famer Ray Claridge, Hooper won championships in consecutive seasons – NASCAR Elite Southwest Series in 1995 and the ARCA Menards Series West in 1996. Hooper won four times in West; seven times in the late model Southwest Series. Later, Hooper competed in all three NASCAR national series, finishing 10th in a NASCAR Camping World 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. *Previous nominee
Brent Kaeding. For three decades – 1980s, 90s and 00 — second generation competitor Brent Kaeding was virtually unbeatable in open wheel racing in California. The Campbell, Calif. resident is a 13-time Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) sprint car champion – eight of the titles in consecutive seasons. Kaeding won 11 King of California championships and is a 21-race winner at fabled Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway. He is a nine-time World of Outlaws winner, and three-time Dirt Cup winner. Kaeding also won the USAC Turkey Night midget race at Ascot Park in Southern California. Kaeding was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2008. Kaeding finished 29th in his only NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix Raceway and also competed in a Winston West Series (now ARCA Menards Series West) event at Sonoma Raceway. He is on the ballot a year after his father, Howard Kaeding, was named a Heritage inductee into the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame.
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, 64, also is a television broadcaster. *Previous nominee
Danny Ongais. The Kahului, Hawaii-born Danny Ongais excelled professionally in a variety of motorsport disciplines. As a drag racer, Ongais won the 1969 National Hot Rod Association U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis driving a Funny Car for West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame member Mickey Thompson. Switching from straight-line competition, he raced U.S. Auto Club championship cars, winning six times in 1977-78 for Ted Fields’ Interscope Racing. His biggest victory came in the California 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway. Ongais posted a trio of top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500 with a best posting of fourth in 1979. His four Formula One starts included a seventh in the 1977 Canadian Grand Prix. Ongais was selected to the International Race of Champions (IROC) in six seasons, with a top finish of fourth in 1984 at Michigan Speedway. He also competed in the 24 Hours of LeMans as well as the 24 Hours of Daytona. Now 78, he was elected to the Motorsports of America Hall of Fame in 2000. *Previous nominee
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 finish was eighth, in 1975 and 1978. Snider also competed in USAC stock cars. He is a member of the Bob Elias Sports Hall of Fame in Bakersfield. *Previous nominee
Ron Zajicek. The West Coast’s premier builder of rear end assemblies for stock cars, Zajicek and Ron’s Rear Ends was a staple at Saugus Speedway in Southern California from the 1960s until the track’s closure in 1995. An estimated 95 percent of the field at Irwindale Speedway ran his rear ends by 2015. Zajicek was a New York native, later moving to the San Fernando Valley. He worked for Frank Deiny’s Speedway Engineering before opening his own business, Ron’s Rear Ends. Zajicek was gear specialist for West Coast Stock Car/Motorsport Hall of Famer Mike Skinner, winner of a NASCAR Cup Series race at Suzuka Japan. West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Brendan Gaughan, Butch Gilliland and other prominent west coast drivers won races and championships with Ron’s Rear Ends equipment. Zajicek passed in March 2016 at the age of 62.