West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame celebrates its 21st inductions

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Charities spotlighted along with 11 enshrinees and Pioneers of Speed at Sonoma Raceway

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (June 11, 2024) – A charitable milestone, the naming of the 2024 Knockin’ Doorz Down Philanthropist of the year and a surprise enshrinement highlighted the 21st West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies held June 6 at Sonoma Raceway.

The annual World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway-sponsored event, kickoff to the raceway’s NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series, NASCAR ARCA Menards Series West weekend, hosted more than 500 inductees, dignitaries and guests from throughout the motorsport community.

Ken Clapp, the Hall’s chairman and CEO announced the organization had reached a milestone $1 million in charitable donations. “That occurred three weeks ago,” said Clapp, noting it had taken more than six years to reach the million dollar mark, with gifts to youth, health and safety, hospitals, animal rescue, military and other charitable causes. “Our next goal is to reach another million dollars in just four years.”

The NASCAR Foundation was named the 2024 Knockin’ Doorz Down Philanthropist of the Year by 51FIFTY. Founded in 2006 by the late Betty Jane France, the 501(c)3 national charity impacts children’s lives through the Speediatrics Children’s Fund and the annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The Foundation has impacted more than 1.7 million children, giving $46 million to children in need.

NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton accepted the award, the fourth since its inception. “Betty Jane would be very proud of this,” he said. The Knockin’ Doorz Down Philanthropist of the Year is awarded under sponsorship of Carlos Vieira and his 51FIFTY Enterprises.

The night’s activities were capped by the surprise Media induction of the organization’s president Ralph Sheheen. Sheheen is a longtime national television and radio host, the co-owner of National Speed Sport News and emcee of the Hall’s annual induction ceremonies. He is the fifth media member inducted in the category, joining previous enshrinees Shav Glick, Gordon Martin, Owen A. Kearns and John Cardinale

Members of the Class of 2024 are the late Dick Cobb, Las Vegas, Nev., winner of multiple track championships over a 45-year racing career in Nevada and California; Eric Holmes, Escalon, Calif., winner of three NASCAR West (now ARCA Menards Series West) titles; Jimmie Johnson, El Cajon, Calif., seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion; Jimmy Vasser, Canoga Park, Calif., 10-time Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) winner, Indianapolis 500 co-owner champion and 2023 IMSA GTD championship co-owner; and Calvin (Cal) Wells III, NASCAR Cup Series race winning team owner, Off-Road Hall of Fame inductee and current chief executive officer of Legacy Motor Club.

The 2024 Heritage class is comprised of the late Joe Huffaker, San Francisco, Indianapolis car builder and Sports Car Club of America owner’s champion; Steve Lewis, Colton, Calif., 10-time United States Auto Club National Midget car owner’s champion; the late Emmett Malloy, Inglewood, Calif., builder of famed Carrell Speedway in Southern Calif. and son Tom Malloy, Villa Park, Calif., two-decade historic car competitor and USAC midget team owner; and the late Paula Murphy, Granada Hills, Calif., first woman licensed by the National Hod Rod Association to drive a nitromethane-fueled car and land speed record holder. 

The organization’s first Pioneers of Speed are Johnny Boyd, Jack Dill, Fred Frame, Ted Horn, Frank Lockhart, Rex Mays, Jimmy Murphy, Bob Swanson, Ernie Triplett and Louis Vermeil. All are deceased.

Highlights of the induction ceremonies will be broadcast later this summer, network, air dates and broadcast times to be announced.

What they said

Brendan Gaughan, inducting Dick Cobb: “You wouldn’t have a Brendan Gaughan, Kurt or Kyle Busch in NASCAR if it wasn’t for Dick Cobb.”

Toyota’s David Wilson, inducting Cal Wells: “He was part Roger Penske, part Bobby Knight and part Jim Jones. He changed how you do battle in the desert (where) he found grace and humility.”

Gary Johnson, recalling his son Jimmie’s early desert racing years: “He got up on stage (in San Diego) and invited 40,000 people to a party at hour house and most of them came. There were beer cans for blocks.”

Inductee Steve Lewis, as a teen, got out of the house on Sunday afternoons by telling his mother “I was going to the library (to study).” My grades didn’t measure up to the time I was spending there.” 

Inductee Ralph Sheheen said his first announcing job was a “couple hundred yards” away from Sonoma Raceway’s Turn 11 Club. “I was announcing the AFM (motorcycle) races in this little trailer under the old bridge for $25 and a box lunch.”

Jimmie Johnson, 51FIFTY presenter Kimberlin Avarado, Gary Johnson
Andy Graves, 51FIFTY presenter Michelle Jimenez, Jimmy Vasser
Jason VanDusen and Carlos Vieira, 51FIFTY Enterprises, NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton, 51 FIFTY presenters Michelle Jimenez and Kimberlin Alvarado

Images by Dennis Mattish

Ralph Sheheen

About the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame:

The West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame was conceived in 2001 as a means of recognizing significant contributors and contributions to the sport of stock car/motorsports competition. The mission of the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame is founded to preserve history and heritage of the important role west coast stock car and motorsports figures 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.

The Hall is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, dedicated to supporting a variety of organizations and groups from coast to coast. The Hall has raised more than $1 million during the past 6-1/2 years for youth, health and safety, hospitals, animal rescue, military and other charitable causes.

For more information on the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame visit: www.WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com

Media Contact: 
Owen A. Kearns