Six-man class includes driver, crew chiefs, owners and promoter
PHOENIX – The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Class of 2015 was announced by Chairman of the Board Ken Clapp in a news conference at Phoenix International Raceway today. The six-member class includes a driver, two crew chiefs, two team owners and one of the great track promoters in motorsports.
Jerry Baxter is currently a crew chief at Kyle Busch Motorsports where he is responsible for the #54 Toyota driven by Darrell Wallace Jr. Starting in Southern California helping build cars and then overseeing the construction on race cars for Ivan Baldwin. Baxter eventually bought Baldwin Engineering. In 2007 he was a team consultant who directed the team that enabled Michael David to win the K&N Pro Series-West championship. He later moved to North Carolina and began working as a crew chief with such organizations as Michael Waltrip Racing and Eddie Sharp Racing.
John Cardinale was the Vice President of Communications at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma for nearly two decades. An active member of the Board of Directors for the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, he was considered the standard by which all other automotive public relations executives were measured. Dedicated, loyal and ever-willing to provide information (or find it in the rare instances he could not instantly deliver it), Cardinale made more friends among the automotive media in California than virtually anyone else in the business. He began his career as a sports writer for the Antioch Ledger, and once he discovered his interest in motorsports, it soon became his passion and something he was always willing to discuss and experience.
Long Beach native Jason Leffler found his greatest success came not in stock cars but rather in midgets, where he won three consecutive USAC championships (1997-99) the midget portion of the Copper World Classic at PIR on February 7, 1999. He is a member of the National Midget Hall of Fame. He also won the 1999 USAC Silver Crown series and the Silver Crown part of the Copper World Classic at PIR on February 6, 2000. Leffler won two NASCAR Nationwide Series races, a Camping World Truck Series race and made 73 starts in the Sprint Cup Series for a variety of owners including Joe Gibbs and Chip Ganassi. He had one pole and one top-10 finish in the Cup series. Besides the two wins, in 292 starts in the Nationwide Series, he had 42 top-5 finishes, 106 top-10s and eight poles. He won his first Nationwide race for owner Gene Haas at Nashville Superspeedway in 2004 and won at Indianapolis Raceway Park for Braun Racing in 2007. He finished third in the Nationwide standings for Braun in 2007 and had five top-10 finishes from 2007-11. His Truck Series win came in 2003 at Dover for owner Jim Smith. He finished fourth in the truck series standings in 2002. Known for driving hard from the drop of the green flag, in 2013 Leffler returned to open wheel racing and focused on sprint cars. He was killed in a crash on June 12, 2013 at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey.
Warren Razore (pronounced ray-ZOR-ee), a native of Seattle, had a similar beginning to the legendary J.C. Agajanian; both men built significant financial empires in the refuse disposal business. He later diversified his business holdings and added a variety of other businesses including the Seattle distributorship of Peterbilt trucks. He grew to love stock car racing and entered the sport as a team owner. By the late 1980s, he was one of the top car owners in the K&N Pro Series West as his red Fords sped to victory with Roy Smith and Derrike Cope behind the wheel. Universally liked for his fairness and generosity, Razore died prematurely at the age of 58 in 1999 from complications from treatment of Hodgkins disease.
At the tender age of 20, Doug Richert became the youngest championship winning crew chief in the history of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing when he directed Dale Earnhardt’s first title run in 1980. Promoted from chief mechanic after the legendary “Suitcase Jake” Elder left the team following the World 600 at Charlotte in May, Richert led the team owned by California Rod Osterlund to three wins and nine top-5 finishes in the last 18 races. When Osterlund shut down the team in the middle of the next year, Earnhardt and Richert went in different directions. Richert became crew chief for a variety of owners including Junior Johnson and Jack Roush and a variety of drivers including Darrel Waltrip, Neil Bonnett, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons, Davey Allison and Greg Biffle. In 509 career Cup starts over 25 years, cars for which Richert served as crew chief won 13 times with 67 top-5 finishes, 119 top-10 finishes and 5 poles. He also directed Ron Hornday’s successful pursuit of the 1996 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.
Jim Williams is another self-made man who became a major supplier of beef to various companies including McDonald’s. He had a long relationship as associate sponsor of cars owned by Roger Penske and his name was seen prominently on the car Al Unser drove to his fourth victory in the Indianapolis 500. On the West Coast, Williams was a driving force behind the creation of Irwindale Speedway – acclaimed by many as the finest paved short-track oval in America – and of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, where many future stars first gained recognition.
— PhoenixRaceway.com —