West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductee Leonard won national championships on two, four wheels

Note: This is the third of a series of press releases on the 2017 inductees into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. The 14th Annual Induction Ceremony, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, will be held June 22 at the Meritage Resort in Napa, Calif.)

PHOENIX (June 7, 2017) - Born in San Diego in 1932, Joe Leonard exceled on two and four wheels. Leonard won three American Motorcyclist Association championships (1954, 1956-57), winning 27 races including the famed Daytona 200 twice.

Switching genres, Leonard began racing hard tops and NASCAR supermodifieds in central California. Leonard then moved to the U.S. Auto Club’s championship car circuit. In 98 races, Leonard won six times including the 1971 California 500 at the now-defunct Ontario Motor Speedway and captured the organization’s 1971 and 1972 national championships. Leonard is the only American to win U.S. national titles in automobiles and motorcycles.

Leonard drove for some of USAC’s greatest legends: West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famers Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones and Vel Melitich and A.J. Foyt and Andy Granatelli. He finished third twice in the Indianapolis 500 (1967 and 1972).

"Joe, what a great guy," said Mario Andretti who was, along with Al Unser, teammates with Leonard on Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing's 1972 Super Team. "We had a lot of fun together. That guy, he used to work hard and play hard with me and Al. The three of us just enjoyed the time that we had."

He won a USAC stock car race at the DuQuoin (Ill.) Fairgrounds in 1964 and made one NASCAR premier series start, driving for Smokey Yunick in the 1969 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Leonard passed away April 27 at the age of 84.

Leonard joins Walker Evans, Michael Gaughan, Gene Price, Scott Pruett, Frank Secrist and Kenneth Takeuchi in the 2017 WCSCHOF class of inductees.

The 2017 Induction Ceremony, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, are open to the public on a limited, space-available basis. Reservation information is available by emailing the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame at jwentzel@phoenixraceway.com.

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.

About Gateway Motorsports Park

Gateway Motorsports Park 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. Gateway Motorsports Park's facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile super speedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art Karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue.

Contact: West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Owen A. Kearns 661-342-2983 okearns@bak.rr.com
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