PHOENIX – The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame has announced the 12 semi-finalists for its Class of 2017 inductees, a list that includes a half-dozen first-time nominees.
Voting by the Hall’s board of directors is underway to select the five finalists, whose identities will be announced during the March 17-19 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
The six first-time nominees to emerge from the board’s first round of voting are George Bignotti, Walker Evans, Tom Gloy, Joe Leonard, Scott Pruett and Marshall Sargent.
Previous nominees advancing for a final vote are Rick Henderson, Doug McCoun, Gene Price, Oren Prosser, Clyde Prickett and Frank Secrist.
Induction ceremonies will be held June 22 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif., on the eve on Sonoma Raceway’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and K&N Pro Series West event.
“I am elated at the original slate of 25 nominees and even more so with the 12 semi-finalists,” said West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Chairman Ken Clapp. “Any of these 12 will enhance the future of the Hall of Fame. There were no weak nominations. I could have voted for any of them and felt I’d made a good choice.”
Bignotti, best known as a chief mechanic who won the Indianapolis 500 a record seven times with six different drivers including A.J. Foyt, raced pre-World War II stock cars. In 1954, he owned an Oldsmobile campaigned in what is now the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West by Jim Graham. The San Francisco native died in 2013 at age 97.
Evans won the Baja 1000 nine times in specially-built trucks and was the first to win the grueling race overall in a truck. The 78-year-old Riverside, Calif., resident was a charter owner/driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, posting three top-10 finishes and was crew chief for two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series champion Brendan Gaughan.
Gloy of Lafayette, Calif., was among the most successful Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am Series competitors during the 1980s, winning the 1984 championship driving a Mercury Capri for Roush Racing. Gloy, 69, competed in one Indianapolis 500 and entered Ford F-150s for three seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Henderson of Petaluma, Calif., was the first west coast driver to win a NASCAR national racing championship, capturing the 1959 sportsman title. He won two NASCAR State of California championships as well as five track titles. Henderson, who passed away in 2001 at age 69, competed in three NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events in northern California in 1954.
Leonard, born in San Diego, Calif. in 1932, excelled on two and four wheels. He won three American Motorcyclist Association championships and six U.S. Auto Club championship car events including the 1971 California 500 at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway. Leonard won two USAC stock car races and made a single NASCAR premier series start for Smokey Yunick at Daytona International Speedway.
McCoun is the first West Coast driver to win a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship (1985). The 59-year-old Prunedale, Calif., competitor, a chief with Monterey County’s fire department, was a top driver in the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour for late model stocks, winning nine times and finished four times among the top five in points.
Price’s Gene Price Motorsports won three NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships, in 2011 and 2014 with Greg Pursley and 2013 with Dylan Kwasniewski. The Parker, Ariz., owner’s drivers accounted for 26 wins and 90 top-five finishes in a combined 144 starts. The team also competed in the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour and Camping World Truck Series.
Prickett, from Fresno, Calif., won the 1955 NASCAR State of California championship in hard tops. He was a top driver in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, winning at Medford, Ore.’s Rogue Valley Speedway in 1968. He competed in three NASCAR premier series events at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway with a best finish of 14th in 1968. Now 84, Prickett established a Coca-Cola distributorship in his hometown.
Prosser, from Sun Valley, Calif., was virtually unbeatable at Saugus (Calif.) Speedway in the 1960s and 1970s, winning five sportsman stock car championships. He won nine-consecutive races at the flat, 0.333-mile track in 1966. Prosser, 76, won the NASCAR Permatex 300 at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway in 1967 and also drove in three NASCAR premier series events.
Pruett, of Roseville, Calif., won three SCCA Trans-Am titles (1987, 1994 and 2003) and a pair of IMSA GTO championships (1988-86). He also won a pair of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) events, five Rolex GRAND-AM/WeatherTech sports car championships and 45 victories including five overall wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona. The 57-year-old Pruett competed in 40 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events and has been a television commentator.
Sargent, from Salinas, Calif., won an estimated 500 features in the United States and Australia during a 20-year racing career starring in hard tops and supermodifieds. Sargent won the NASCAR State of California championship in 1960, as well as 88 races at the original San Jose (Calif.) Speedway. He qualified for the 1961 Daytona 500 and won a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Gardena (Calif.) Stadium in 1957. Sargent died in 1990 at age 59.
Secrist, from Oildale, Calif., won five championships at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway, as well as three titles at Hanford, Calif. He won the first midget race he entered in 1966. Secrist set sportsman track records at Daytona International Speedway in 1961-62, the latter erasing NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough’s speed from the books. Now 87, he won a NASCAR premier series pole at Marchbanks Speedway in Hanford.
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.