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West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame announces nominations for Class of 2020

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 9, 2019) – Twenty individuals including six, first-time nominees have been nominated for 2020 induction into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

The organization’s ballot, from which the five inductees comprising the 17thclass ultimately will be chosen, includes a pair of ARCA Menards Series West champions, a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Series champion, a pair of Indianapolis 500 winners and four competitors holding multiple titles at California weekly tracks. The list spans historic (pre-1970) and modern eras of the sport. 

First-time nominees are Ken Boyd, Tony Hunt, Craig Keough, Jerry Pitts, Nick Rescino and Linda Vaughan.

Nominated again after appearing on previous ballots are Mike Bliss, Dave Byrd, Ernie Cope, Mike David, Dave Fuge, Tom Gloy, Lance Hooper, Tommy Kendall, Rick Mears, Danny Ongais, Jim Pettit II, Greg Pickett, Tom Sneva and George Snider. The organization also will induct its third Heritage class of five individuals whose careers largely ended prior to 1970. The Heritage inductees will be named in spring 2020.

“The list of nominees is beyond impressive and, as in previous years, it becomes more and more difficult to choose the five inductees,” said West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame chairman CEO Ken Clapp. “In total, the nominees have won more 1,000 feature races over the past 50 years. All are deserving of induction.”

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. 3, 2020. Final voting begins Jan. 10, 2020 and ends Jan. 31, 2020 with the five inductees to be named during a NASCAR Cup Series weekend in March.

The Class of 2020 will be enshrined June 11, 2020 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif. The event, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, again accompanies the annual NASCAR Cup Series and ARCA Menards Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway. MAVTV is expected to carry highlights of the gala in a delayed broadcast.

To obtain media credentials for coverage of the 17thWest 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 awards dinner, contact Ken Clapp. A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public beginning April 1, 2019. Inquiries should be forwarded to kcdeee@gmail.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.

About the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame:
For more information on the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame visit: www.WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com

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

Biographies of the 20 nominees, by category, are below.

2020 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Nominees

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 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. *Previous nominee

Ken Boyd. Ken Boyd was California’s pre-eminent pavement Late Model car racer of  the 1980s and 1990s, winning five championships at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway. Boyd was the first to win four consecutive championships (1988-91) at the quarter-mile track, where he recorded 71 victories and 84 fast times during his career. His first title came in 1977 at Madera (Calif.) Speedway. The Ceres, Calif. resident finished fourth in the 1991 Whelen All-American Pacific Coast Region, winning 14 times. He also won twice in the NASCAR Elite Division Southwest Series. Boyd, age 65, fielded entries for a number of prominent competitors, including West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famers Ivan Baldwin, Jeff Gordon and Ernie Irvan. Baldwin was the biggest winner in Boyd equipment, posting 15 of 29 total victories.

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 ARCA Menards 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, 61, has at least 140 feature race victories over a career spanning five decades – 1976 through 2015. * Previous nominee

Ernie Cope. ErnieCope, 50, 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 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 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. *Previous nominee

Mike David. Mike David of Modesto, Calif. is the 2007 ARCA Menards Series West champion. David, 52, competed in 91 ARCA Menards Series West 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, 52, previously captured a Stockton late model title. His final series victory came at ISM Raceway in 2008 driving Lynch’s Toyota. David’s ARCA Menards Series West 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. *Previous nominee

Dave Fuge. Dave Fuge  became the first independent owner/crew chief to win a Gander Outdoors Truck Series title in 1992 with current West Coast Stock Car Hall of fame nominee Mike Bliss. He followed with another owner title in 1994 with Travis Kvapil. The Washington native has excelled as race car builder, team owner and crew chief. Fuge has worked with a virtual Who’s Who of drivers including West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame members Derrike Cope, Ron Eaton, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Bill Schmitt. Fuge won championships in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Mike Bliss (1992) and Travis Kvapil (1994) and 11 races overall. The late Bobby Hamilton won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year title driving for Tri-Star Motorsports which Fuge co-owned with Mark Smith and George Bradshaw. *Previous nominee

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, 72, 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. *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 Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. The 52-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 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 10thin 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. *Previous nominee

Tony Hunt.Tony Hunt is a multiple U.S. Auto Club champion – with nine sprint car titles, 50 main event wins and 50 pole positions. The Rancho Cordova, Calif. competitor won his first USAC championship in the 1992 Formula Russell Series, as well as several kart titles. Hunt, 47, competed in the ARCA Menards Series West in 1993 and 2000, posting two top-10 finishes including a sixth at Shasta (Calif.) Speedway. He spotted for a number of NASCAR premier series drivers – John Andretti, Stevie Reeves, Ken Schrader and Mike Wallace to name a few. Hunt has instructed at the Jim Russell Racing School, Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Driver School and the Richard Petty Racing Experience. He is an automotive brand ambassador and driving instructor and a stunt driver and most recently was the stunt driving double for Christian Bale’s character Ken Miles in the 2019 film Ford v Ferrari.

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, 63, also is a television broadcaster.*Previous nominee

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 Series Southwest Series. Keough’s recognition of Kurt’s talent was the springboard to a Roush Fenway Racing ride in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors 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. Most recently he was responsible for the return of the ARCA Menards Series West to LVMS’ dirt track. 

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, 68, has remained in a consulting role with Team Penske. *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 77, he was elected to the Motorsports of America Hall of Fame in 2000. *Previous nominee

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. 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, 54, finished among the top 10 in more than 50 percent of his Southwest Tour starts (54 of 103). *Previous nominee

Greg Pickett. Greg Pickett of Alamo, Calif. is the only driver to have won SCCA Trans-Am races in four decades of competition. The 72-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. *Previous nominee

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 Racing  in 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.

Nick Rescino. One of the all-time greats to race in San Jose, Calif., Nick Rescino won a total of six Super Modified championships at both the paved track and the fairgrounds. Nick won the 1972 and 1975 titles on the high banks of San Jose Speedway and the 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984 championships at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds. His 86 main event wins rank him near the top on that list. Rescino won the prestigious Johnny Key Classic six times, in 1972, 1974-75, 1982, 1984 and 1986. Nick is the only driver in history to win a World of Outlaws A-Feature driving a super modified, at Sacramento, Calif.’s West Capital Raceway June 8, 1979. Rescino set more than 200 career fastest qualifying times at 17 different tracks. The San Francisco competitor was the Motor Sports Press Association’s 1979 Oval Track Driver of the Year. He is a member of the MSPA’s Hall of Fame as well as the San Jose Speedway Hall of Fame. 

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, 71, was selected to five International Race of Champions (IROC) events, posting a best finish of second in 1985 at Daytona International Speedway. *Previous nominee

George Snider. Born in Fresno, Calif. but living for most of his career in Bakersfield, George Snider, 78, 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. He is a member of the Bob Elias Sports Hall of Fame in Bakersfield. *Previous nominee

Linda Vaughan. The most iconic model in motorsports, Linda Vaughan was a world-wide figure as Miss Hurst Golden Shifter. But the Dalton, Ga. native was more than that – a self-taught PR and Marketing expert who traded her costume after the race into a business suit. Known as the First Lady of Motorsports, she worked for then-California-based Hurst Shifter, under George Hurst and Jack Watson. Ms. Vaughn was perhaps best known for her work at NASCAR premier series events but appeared it many other races – the Indianapolis 500, Formula One and NHRA national drag races. In 1972, for example, Ms. Vaughan did 172 events. Her first love was drag racing, introduced to sport as a teen. She received a Wally among other NHRA awards for her public relations work in behalf of the organization. She also appeared in a number of film and television productions including “Stroker Ace” and was the subject of ESPN’s 30 for 30.

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