PHOENIX (June 27, 2017) – The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame conducted its 14th Annual Induction Ceremony, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, on June 22 before a record attendance of nearly 400.
Present for induction were off-road legend Walker Evans; NASCAR team owners Michael Gaughan and Gene Price; road racing champion Scott Pruett; pioneer modified stock car champion Frank Secrist and announcer-publicist Kenneth (Kenny) Takeuchi. Motorcycle and Indianapolis car champion Joe Leonard was inducted posthumously during the event held at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.
The late Ben Gregory, elected to the Hall with Class of 2009, was re-inducted in a special ceremony with his daughter, Candy Campbell, who was unable to attend his initial honors. A top stock car competitor in the 1940s and early 1950s, “Ben Gregory” was the racing identity of Gordon Campbell, a California Highway Patrol officer who hid his off-duty exploits from his employer.
Ken Clapp, chairman of the Hall’s board of directors, told attendees, “Your ongoing support has not only allowed our growth to where we are tonight but it has also given us the privilege to be able to help many less fortunate than ourselves. Last year we gifted just over $73,000 to multiple charities.
“This has been made possible by our matching fund-raising program and we will only grow each year from that effort.”
National Speed Sport publisher and television personality Ralph Sheheen served as master of ceremonies for the event. Hall of Fame members in attendance included Clapp, Allen Beebe, Mike Duncan, Ed Justice Jr., Owen A. Kearns, Bill McAnally, Hershel McGriff and Steve Page.
Some induction evening highlights:
Brendan Gaughan, a two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion and current NASCAR XFINITY Series competitor, inducted Evans, calling off-road racing legend “a huge mentor. If not for Walker Evans, I never would have made it to the top (national series) of NASCAR.”
Evans, Gaughan noted, brought Chrysler back into NASCAR through the Camping World Truck Series, where the Riverside, Calif. team owner competed in its early years.
“For an off-road guy, I’m humbled and proud,” said Evans.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Childress inducted Michael Gaughan, co-owner of a team that won three consecutive NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships and member of a pioneer Las Vegas gaming and hospitality family.
“He does so much behind the scenes and people don’t realize all that he does,” said Childress. “If it wasn’t for Michael Gaughan, we wouldn’t have a second (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (in 2018).”
Gaughan’s acceptance included praise for his former partner, McAnally. “Bill put together a quality team for my son (Brendan),” he said. “If it wasn’t for his ability, I would be here.”
Two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Greg Pursley inducted his former team owner, Price, whose Parker, Ariz. team captured three titles and 26 victories between 2009 and 2014.
“But,” said Pursley, “he was always about having fun.”
Pruett, the first Sports Car Club of America and IMSA champion elected to the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, said he was “still in awe” of the honor.
“It’s gone way too fast,” the Roseville, Calif. native said. “I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.”
Takeuchi, described by Clapp as “truly an auto racing historian,” frequently announced and wrote about hardtop and supermodified events at up to four central California tracks a weekend beginning in the 1960s. The Fresno, Calif. resident once saw two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bill Vukovich practicing in a farm field in 1935 and spent World War II in an internment camp in Jerome, Ark. “At age 90, he’s still running the marathon,” said Clapp.
“I worked with the best promoters and officials,” said Takeuchi. “We had enough cars and drivers for A, B and C main events. We had rivalries, intense rivalries and rivalries built heroes. I only hope my contributions to racing made a difference.”
The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame will return to the Meritage for its 15th Annual Induction on June 21, 2018, again kicking off the NASCAR weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Voting will begin on the next class of nominees in November. The 2018 inductees will be announced in March.
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.
Owen A. Kearns