West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame announces nominations for Class of 2018 induction

  • admin

PHOENIX (Nov. 12, 2017) – Twenty individuals reflecting a varied history of the motor racing industry have been nominated for induction into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

The organization’s ballot, from which five inductees ultimately will be chosen, contains a NASCAR speedway president, 15 drivers, a pair of car owners and two crew chiefs. The list spans historic (pre-1970) and modern eras of the sport. Eleven individuals are nominated for the first time.

First-time nominees are Dave Byrd, Austin Cameron, Ernie Cope, George Follmer, Joe Garone, J.D. Gibbs, Lance Hooper, Eric Norris, Greg Pursley, Boris Said and Bryan Sperber.

Nominated on previous ballots are Ron Esau, Tom Gloy, the late Rick Henderson, Tommy Kendall, Doug McCoun, Greg Pickett, Oren Prosser, the late Marshall Sargent and Dick Woodland.

“This is going to be the toughest votes to cast in our 15-year history,” said West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame chairman Ken Clapp. “It’s a pretty impressive group of nominees and it includes some all-time greats in motor racing overall, not just those who primarily established their credentials in stock cars.

“I found it interesting some whose careers are celebrated for sports car and road racing successes had a place in stock cars as well.”

Several individuals nominated in previous years failed to make the latest ballot, although each is eligible for future inclusion.

“Looking at that you realize just how tough it has become to be considered for induction,” said Clapp.

The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame annually nominates for induction worthy individuals who competed in traditional stock car racing as well as in other full-bodied racing vehicles primarily on road courses under international and national sanction by the FIA, International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), GRAND-AM and the Sports Car Club of America.

The Board of Directors’ first round of balloting, from which 10 semi-finalists are to be chosen, begins later this month and ends Jan. 8, 2018. Final voting begins Jan. 11, 2018 and ends Jan. 31, 2018 with the five inductees to be named Sunday, March 11, 2018 during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

The Class of 2018 will be enshrined June 21, 2018 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif. The event, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park, again accompanies the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West weekend at nearby Sonoma Raceway.

Here are the 20 nominees by category (*first time nominee):

*Bryan Sperber. For nearly 30 years, Bryan R. Sperber has been an integral part of the motorsports and entertainment industry at its highest levels, consistently spearheading change and innovation from coast to coast. Currently the president of Phoenix Raceway, Sperber has guided the strategic and operational vision for one of the most popular venues in the sports, for both fans and drivers alike. Throughout his 15 years as president of Phoenix Raceway, he has guided the track through significant capital expansion, overseen addition of a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, as well as helped secure the return of the Verizon IndyCar Series to the raceway. The jewel of his tenure at Phoenix Raceway is the current $178 million modernization project. Prior to arriving at Phoenix Raceway, Sperber was president of Watkins Glen International, where he was the youngest track president in NASCAR at age 30. While serving as president of Phoenix Raceway, Sperber also was chairman of Auto Club Speedway from 200607, overseeing the facility’s day-to-day operations, while helping lead the transition team for new leadership. Sperber is president of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame and member of the board of directors of the Fiesta Bowl.

*Dave Byrd is one of the most versatile west coast stock car drivers of his era, having won six championships on dirt and six championships on pavement at seven different tracks. In 1978, he was offered, but turned down, the Rod Osterlund-owned NASCAR premier series car that ultimately went to Dale Earnhardt. Byrd’s crowning achievement was winning the 1983 NASCAR Pacific Coast Region championship, driving a late model stock car on several northern California dirt tracks. The Los Gatos, Calif. resident also raced for many years in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and Southwest series, posting two top-five and 12 top-10 finishes on the latter tour. His last big victory was in 2002 when he won the Duel in Desert at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is by far the biggest IMCA race anywhere in the western United States. Sixteen states were represented with 144 drivers in attendance. Byrd, 59, has at least 140 feature race victories over a career spanning five decades – 1976 through 2015.

*Austin Cameron, a 40-year-old native of El Cajon, Calif., won 15 NASCAR K&N Pro Series races in a career interrupted by a successful battle with non-Hodgins lymphoma. His most emotional victory came in the 2003 non-points Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway – after remission allowed Cameron to return to competition. Cameron won K&N West rookie of the year honors in 1998 driving a car owned by his father. He twice finished runnerup in series standings, in 1999 and 2004. Cameron posted five top-five championship finishes. In 2002, driving for Bill McAnally Racing, Cameron won five of the season’s 10 races. Two years later he also won five times – a record that included four victories in five starts. Cameron won 11 poles and – in 112 starts finished 47 times in the top five and 72 among the top 10. The southern Californian has made starts in all three of NASCAR’s national series.

Ron Esau won inaugural NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour championship (1986) and finished third in the 1987 standings, winning six times in the late model stock car series. The 63-year-old Lakeside, Calif. native ran 55 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races from 1975-98, posting three poles, eight top fives and 20 top 10s. His best finishes, two seconds, came at Willow Springs (Calif.) Raceway and Tucson (Ariz.) Raceway Park. He competed full-time in the series in 1983-84 finishing ninth and fifth, respectively. Esau also competed in the NASCAR premier series and Camping World Truck Series, with a ninth-place finish in the latter subbing for injured Ken Schrader at Evergreen (Wash.) Speedway in 1995. Esau’s best Cup finish (in 17 starts) was a 14th-place performance in the 1976 Winston West 500 at Riverside International Raceway. Esau won the 1978 El Cajon Stock Car Racing Association (Calif.) sportsman championship.

*George Follmer was one of America’s most versatile motorsport figures in the middle of the 20th Century. He collected points in Formula One; won SCCA Can-Am and Trans-Am titles; won a U.S. Auto Club Championship Car race at Phoenix Raceway and posted top-five finishes in NASCAR’s premier series. Follmer, now 83, was born in Arizona but moved with his family to Southern California shortly thereafter. He raced out of Arcadia, where he owned an auto dealership. He won SCCA’s United States Road Racing Championship in 1965; the organization’s Can-Am title in 1972, subbing for Mark Donohue in Roger Penske’s Porsche 917/10; and SCCA Trans-Am titles in 1972 (Javelin) and 1976 (Porsche). Follmer spent a single season in F1 – 1973 – driving Don Nichols’ UOP Shadow and collected a third-place podium at the Spanish Grand Prix. A year later, Follmer took the wheel of Bud Moore’s Fords in a 13-race NASCAR Cup schedule, logging a fourth-place finish in Atlanta and fifths at Dover and Rockingham. He competed in six NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events – including dirt track events in Gardena and Vallejo, Calif. Follmer also won an International Race of Champions (IROC) event at Riverside International Raceway.

Tom Gloy of Lafayette, Calif. was among the most successful Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am Series competitors during the 1980s. He won the 1984 championship driving a Mercury Capri for Roush Racing. Gloy competed in 17 races that year, winning three and finishing among the top five in 12 others. He was the 1979 Formula Atlantic champion and competed in one Indianapolis 500. Gloy also was chosen to compete in the International Race of Champions. Gloy, 70, entered Ford F150s in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for three seasons. His drivers collected three top-five finishes including a second by Tony Roper at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Rick Henderson of Petaluma, Calif. was the first west coast driver to win a NASCAR national racing championship, capturing the 1959 sportsman title. Henderson also won the State of California championship in the same season, a title he previously won in 1957 and subsequently won in 1961-62. He won five additional track championships with three coming at San Jose (Calif.) Speedway, one at Kearney Bowl in Fresno, Calif. and one at Santa Rosa (Calif.) Speedway. Henderson competed in a trio of NASCAR premier series/Pacific Coast Late Model events at Oakland and Bay Meadows in San Mateo, Calif. in 1954 at age 22. Henderson passed away in 2001 at age 69.

*Lance Hooper is a member of the “Palmdale Posse,” a group of NASCAR racers that raced out of Palmdale, Calif. headed by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. The 50-year-old Hooper, like Hornaday, is a second-generation competitor whose family raced stock cars throughout Southern California and called Saugus (Calif.) Speedway home. Driving for West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Ray Claridge, Hooper won championships in consecutive seasons – NASCAR Elite Southwest Series in 1995 and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 1996. Hooper won four times in K&N; seven times in the late model Southwest Series. Later, Hooper competed in all three NASCAR national series, finishing 10th in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway. Hooper transitioned to a crew chief’s role with nearly 100 events over seven seasons. He posted top-10 finishes with Clay Rogers and Jeff Green and spent a full season at ThorSport Racing with Kerry Earnhardt.

Tommy Kendall, a Santa Monica native, dominated the SCCA Trans-Am Series in the 1990s, capturing four driving titles in the first eight years of the decade (1990, 1995-96-97). From 1995 to 1997, while piloting Jack Roush-owned Ford Mustangs, Kendall claimed 16 wins and 27 poles in 38 Trans-Am races. In 1997, on his way to his fourth and final Trans-Am title, Kendall scored wins in the first 11 of 13 races that season. Kendall also made 14 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, mostly on road courses with a best finish of eighth at Watkins Glen International and made two appearances in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Kendall, 61, also is a television broadcaster.

Doug McCoun was the first west coast driver to win a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series national championship (1985) under contemporary points format and second to capture a NASCAR national title from the west. The Prunedale, Calif. resident, driving a late model stock car owned by his father, won 27 of the 53 races he entered at Watsonville and Merced fairgrounds dirt tracks and other northern California ovals in 1985. McCoun also won the organization’s Pacific Coast Region title in 1986. Competing in the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Tour, McCoun, 60, finished four times among the top five in the championship, his best a pair of third-place finishes. He logged nine wins and 49 top-five and top-10 finishes in the late model touring series.

*Eric Norris of Redondo Beach, Calif. balanced a career in the entertainment industry with a successful stint in NASCAR racing. Norris, the youngest son of actor and martial arts champion Chuck Norris, won the 2002 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship. He competed in the series from 1996 through 2012, posting three wins, two poles, 18 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes. The majority of his success came in Ultra Wheels Fords. Norris, 52, also competed in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck series. Norris has acted in many motion pictures and television productions as well as working as stuntman, stunt coordinator and second and main unit director.

Greg Pickett of Alamo, Calif. is the only driver to have won SCCA Trans-Am races in four decades of competition. The 70-year-old Pickett won the 1978 T-A II championship posting four victories in a Chevrolet Corvette. In 1984, Pickett gave Jack Roush his first T-A victory at Sonoma Raceway. Pickett counts a pair of 12 Hours of Sebring class victories (1987, 2010). As an owner in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Pickett’s Muscle Milk stable counted 21 victories and two team and driver championships. He also competed in a pair of NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Series events finishing sixth at the Los Angeles Coliseum and Sonoma Raceway.

Oren Prosser was virtually unbeatable at Saugus (Calif.) Speedway in the 1960s and 1970s, winning five sportsman stock car championships (1964, 1967-72). He won nine consecutive feature races at the flat, .333-mile track in 1966. In 1971 Prosser won the July 4 Firecracker 400 – capturing all four 100-lap races at four southern California tracks. He also won Saugus’ first 330-lap event in 1975. Prosser won the NASCAR Permatex 300 in 1967 at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway and competed in three NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) events. The Granada Hills, Calif. competitor, 77, drove Chevrolets for owner Donnie Johnson.

*Greg Pursley is a two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion and NASCAR Home Tracks national champion. A former desert and motocross competitor, Pursley was a late comer to four-wheel competition at age 25. He won 13 of 18 races at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway in 2004 to capture NASCAR’s national weekly title. Moving to the NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Series, the Canyon Country, Calif. driver won two races along with four poles. Pursley entered the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West by longtime Southern California car owner Joe Nava. After a dozen races with Nava, Pursley moved to Gene Price Motorsports. With Price, a 2017 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductee, won the 2011 and 2014 series championships. In 2011, Pursley won six of his 12 starts. Over 100 races, Pursley posted 20 victories, won 20 poles and logged 58 top-five and 75 top-10 finishes. He won races in six consecutive K&N Pro Series West seasons. Pursley, 49, resides in Parker City, Ariz.

*Boris Said is best known for his sports car successes while being an acknowledged “road course ringer” in NASCAR. Said, born in New York City but living throughout his career in Carlsbad, Calif., won the 2002 SCCA Trans-Am championship and the 2004 Rolex Grand-Am GT title. Driving a BMW, Said shared back to back GT class victories in the 1997-98 24 Hours of Daytona. Said won 10 times in the Rolex Series. He competed in the LeMans 24 Hour race, won in GT cars in Germany and raced in Australian Super Cars. Said, whose father Bob was a pioneer post-World War II sports car driver, won poles in all three NASCAR national series. Although recognized for his road racing prowess, Said captured the pole for the 2006 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke 400 at Daytona International Speedway and finished fourth. He won a NASCAR XFINITY Series race in Montreal as well as a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Sonoma Raceway. He frequently was called on to tutor NASCAR’s top stars on the art of road racing. The 55-year-old Said’s final NASCAR premier series start came in August at Watkins Glen International.

Marshall Sargent was a true international star, winning an estimated 500 feature races in the United States and Australia during a 20-year racing career. The Salinas, Calif. native, who raced out of San Jose, starred in hard tops and supermodifieds and won the NASCAR State of California championship in 1960. He won 88 races at the old San Jose Speedway, a paved third-mile track, including 1960 and 1963 Johnny Key Classics. Sargent was the 1960 San Jose champion and won titles at Alviso, Salinas and Sacramento. Sargent also competed in the NASCAR premier series, qualifying for the 1961 Daytona 500. He had three top-10 finishes in 12 appearances, the best a seventh at Eureka, Calif. in 1957. Sargent won a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at the Gardena (Calif.) Stadium in 1957, driving the Howard Cams Chevrolet. Sargent died in 1990 at age 59.

*J.D. Gibbs. Jason Dean “J.D.” Gibbs, born in Los Angeles in 1969 while his Super Bowl winning father Joe was an assistant coach at the University of Southern California, is president of Joe Gibbs Racing – one of NASCAR’s most successful racing organizations. A collegiate defensive back and quarterback, the younger Gibbs helped his William & Mary team to two Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances. After college, he joined JGR and was a tire changer on Dale Jarrett’s 1993 Daytona 500-winning team. Gibbs later competed as a driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series, becoming president of JGR in 1998. During his tenure, JGR has won multiple Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and XFINITY Series championships and has become the NASCAR flagship organization for Toyota Racing Development. Gibbs, 48, resides with his family in Davidson, N.C.

Richard Woodland, Templeton, Calif., built his first race car, a jalopy, in 1958 at age 15. In 1963, driver Mark Ward drove his supermodified to the top 20 in NASCAR national points. In 1964 Woodland turned 21 and raced for the first time, with a best feature finish in NASCAR competition at Fresno, Calif.’s Kearney Bowl. After military service, Woodland drove a California Racing Association sprint car at Ascot Park in Gardena but with a growing family, turned owner and hired Frank Secrist and Jim Eiland. Later, he teamed with Billy Wilkerson. Their drivers included P.J. Jones, Rip Williams and Ron Shuman, who won the initial SCRA championship for the team. Woodland entered the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. in 1991 and continued with his son, Rich Jr. In 55 races, they won once (at Phoenix in 1998) and finished fifth in the 1995 standings. They also entered several NASCAR premier series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series events.

Crew Chiefs
*Ernie Cope, 48, is a native of Spanaway, Wash. whose father and uncle built professional dragster engines. His cousin, Derrike, is a Daytona 500 winner. Cope began racing in the NASCAR Northwest Series at the age of 19, posting 24 top-five finishes in the late model stock car touring series. He finished third in the championship in 1994 and moved to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West the following year, scoring two victories in Lew Miller’s Chevrolet en route to a second-place points finish. Cope swapped driving gloves for a crew chief’s headset, competing in more than 400 national series races. He won nine times in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – six of them with Kevin Harvick. Cope’s NASCAR XFINITY Series record shows 285 races, 16 poles, 15 wins, 106 top fives and 170 top 10s. His drivers finished runnerup in two seasons – Elliott Sadler in 2011 and Chase Elliott in 2015. Cope currently is competition director at JTG Daugherty Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

*Joe Garone. A native of Denver, Colo., the 57-year-old Garone, like his father, raced on areal tracks until 1989 when he became crew chief for West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer Rick Carelli. The duo’s success caught the attention of Denver auto dealer Marshal Chesrown, whose powerhouse Chevrolet teams reached the pinnacle of West Coast NASCAR competition. Chesrown also was voted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2014. Under Garone’s charge, the team won the 1991 NASCAR Elite Series Southwest Series championship and 21 races between 1987 and 1999. A NASCAR K&N Pro Series West title followed in 1993, a season in which Carelli won five of 14 races. Garone completed his stint with Chesrown and Carelli in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and joined Bill Elliott’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team in 1995, becoming its crew chief in 1998. He helped form PPI Motorsports in 1999 and from 2001 through 2003 was employed by NASCAR ultimately becoming its director of officiating. After spending a year with Michael Waltrip Motorsports, Garone moved back to Denver to join Furniture Row Racing where he currently serves as president and general manager. He previously was elected to the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame.

For additional information about the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, please visit WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com or contact Owen A. Kearns at 661-342-2983. To obtain details about table sponsorship for the 2018 awards dinner, contact Jenniffer Wentzel at 623-463-5400. A limited number of tickets will be make available to the public beginning April 1, 2018. Inquiries should be forwarded to 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.

Owen A. Kearns