Organization’s Award of the Decade conferred for second time
Ken Clapp, Chairman and CEO
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NAPA, Calif., June 24, 2019 – The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame staged its 16th induction ceremony, presented by World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, on June 20 before 500 guests at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.
Eleven stalwarts from across the motorsport spectrum from 20th and 21st centuries were honored during the gala.
The 2019 class of enshrinees includes NASCAR team owners Gary Bechtel and Bob Bruncati; the late Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs and NASCAR champions Jeff Gordon, Doug McCoun and Eric Norris. Five Heritage inductees were feted: international racing star George Follmer; early west coast NASCAR strand-outs Rick Henderson and Marshall Sargent and Indianapolis 500 champions Bob Sweikert and Bill Vukovich.
Wayne Wells, retired NAPA Auto Parts western vice president, was honored with the Hall’s Award of the Decade marking the second time the award has been conferred. The Scottsdale, Ariz. executive guided his company’s sponsorship of events, drivers and teams both in the west and nationwide.
Presenters included NASCAR premier series champion Kurt Busch; Daytona 500 winner Ernie Irvan; Ford Performance Worldwide Director Mark Rushbrook; former ESPN television NASCAR reporter Dr. Jerry Punch; Weather Tech Laguna Seca Raceway CEO Tim McGrane and West Coast Stock Hall of Fame members John Bickford, Hershel McGriff, Richard Woodland and Kenny Takeuchi.
The Award of the Decade was jointly hosted by Brendan Gaughan and West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame member Bill McAnally. Bill McAnally Racing’s NAPA-sponsored NASCAR K&N Pro Series West team has won a record eight series titles and 95 races.
Ken Clapp, chairman and CEO of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, saluted the inductees by stating, “You all worked hard to build your careers. You all belong here.”
The annual induction ceremony is a cornerstone of the Hall’s charitable outreach. The 501(c) 3 organization has raised nearly $600,000 in giving since inception.
Motorsport industry figure Ralph Sheheen was master of ceremony, assisted by 51FIFTY hostess Teresa Fletchinger. 51FIFTY is the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame’s Official Lifestyle Brand. The Hall’s Official Wine, Eberle Vineyards, was served exclusively during dinner and the pre-event hospitality hour, sponsored by the South Point Hotel and Casino.
Highlights of the induction will be aired as a one-hour special on MAVTV. Two broadcasts are slated on the national cable channel, 3 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on Aug. 27 and 1 a.m. ET/10 p.m. PT Aug. 29.
The date of next year’s 17th West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductions will be announced in the near future. Voting on nominees for the Class of 2020 is to begin in November.
Gary Bechtel, whose Diamond Ridge Racing team competed in both NASCAR’s West and premier series – “I’m a recovering NASCAR team owner. I relapsed twice. This sport is an addiction for me. I can’t say I won’t do it again.”
Dr. Jerry Punch in presenting to Gary Bechtel – He was a giver, preferring to remain in the shadows and let others back in glory. Some of those he helped went on to win Daytona 500s and NASCAR (premier series) championships.”
Jeff Gordon – “All the (sprint car) guys in California taught me how to be a real racer.”
John Bickford, on his stepson’s success – “The one thing as a parent I am most proud of is Jeff using this (racing) platform for giving back. (Like) the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation for pediatric cancer research.”
Wayne Wells – “I love everyone in this room. You are the reason why NASCAR sells lots of auto parts.”
George Follmer – “Running a stock car was a distinct challenge but it was a lot of fun.”
Joe Gibbs, who inducted his eldest son via video – “(J.D.’s) impact on a lot of people’s lives continues.” J.D. Gibbs passed away in January at age 47.
Mike Sargent, second generation racing star, on accepting for his father, Marshall Sargent – “He had a unique, hard-driving style. He had arms of steel and could outlast anyone.”
Doug McCoun, on an unsuccessful attempt to race on the east coast – “This guy flew me back and forth across the United States. The only problem was, he spent all of his money flying me back and forth, wining and dining me. We finally got a Busch (now Xfinity) car, got to go to Charlotte for testing and had the car repossessed.”
About the West Coast Stock Car 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. 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.
For more information on the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame visit: www.WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com.
Owen A. Kearns
About World Wide Technology Raceway
World Wide Technology Raceway is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. World Wide Technology Raceway’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue. World Wide Technology Raceway was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from St. Louis Attractions Association. In 2018, owner and CEO Curtis Francois received the Innovator Award from the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission in recognition of his work for restoring World Wide Technology Raceway (known then as Gateway Motorsports Park) to prominence.
Contact: John Bisci
(618) 215-8888 ext. 119