PHOENIX – The 2017 class of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame touches virtually every corner of the motorsports universe from NASCAR and USAC stock cars, the Indianapolis 500, off roading, world endurance racing and California hardtop competition.
The organization’s newest inductees – Walker Evans, Michael Gaughan, Joe Leonard, Gene Price, Scott Pruett, Frank Secrist and Kenneth (Kenny) Takeuchi – were announced March 19 prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.
Induction of the class of 2017 will take place June 22 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif., during Sonoma Raceway’s NASCAR weekend.
“Without a doubt, this is our most eclectic group of inductees,” said Ken Clapp, West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame chairman of the board. “The history of stock car racing comprises a variety of disciplines and can’t be confined to a single type of car, track or sanctioning body.
“This year’s class defines motorsports excellence, from the deserts of Mexico, the rough and tumble golden years of dirt track competition to the world’s greatest and most famous superspeedways and road courses. This year’s vote was among the closest in our organization’s history making it extremely difficult to choose the finalists from the original list of 24 nominees.”
Evans has won truck racing championships in a variety of disciplines: desert, Mickey Thompson Stadium Series and short course racing. The 78-year-old Riverside, Calif. resident won the famed Baja 1000 nine times and was the first to win the grueling Mexican race overall in a truck. He served as crew chief for Brendan Gaughan’s two NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships and competed as owner-driver for two seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (1995-96).
Gaughan was elected to the hall with the class of 2016 but, due to personal reasons, requested his induction be deferred until this June. The 74-year-old Las Vegas resident competed as an off-road racer for more than two decades, winning the 1966 Mint 400. Gaughan’s South Point Racing captured two NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships with son Brendan Gaughan and posted nine victories in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with his son and Steve Park.
Leonard, born in San Diego in 1932, excelled on two and four wheels. The first-time nominee won a trio of American Motorcyclist Association championships (1954, 1956-57) winning 27 races including the Daytona 200. After competing in NASCAR hardtops and supermodifieds in northern California, he moved to the U.S. Auto Club’s championship car circuit and won six times including the 1971 California 500 at the Ontario Motor Speedway. Leonard also won a pair of USAC stock car races in 1964 at the Springfield and DuQuoin, Ill. fairgrounds mile tracks.
Price, owner of Gene Price Racing in Parker, Ariz., won three NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships among six consecutive top-five points finishes between 2009 and 2014. Greg Pursley won titles in 2011 and 2014 and Dylan Kwasniewski captured the 2013 championship – just eight points ahead of runnerup and teammate Pursley. Price’s team accounted for 26 K&N Pro victories, won twice in the NASCAR Elite Southwest Series and competed briefly in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Pruett, another first-time nominee, has won races in full-bodied cars, sports cars and Indianapolis-type cars. The 57-year-old Roseville, Calif., resident won three SCCA Trans-Am titles (1987, 1994 and 2003) and a pair of IMSA GTO championships (1988-86). He won two CART events and was the 1989 Indianapolis 500 co-rookie of the year. His greatest success came in IMSA/GRAND-AM endurance racing with 45 victories – including five overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Pruett competed in 40 NASCAR premier series races with a best finish of second at Watkins Glen Int’l in 2003.
Secrist, voted for induction in his second time on the ballot, won 1951-54 jalopy championships – then the top division – at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway as well as the 1954-55 jalopy titles in Hanford, Calif. Born in 1929, the Oildale, Calif. resident finished third in NASCAR State of California sportsman stock standings in 1961 and won nine of 11 super modified races he entered in 1963. Secrist set track records in NASCAR sportsman races at Daytona Int’l Speedway in 1961-62 and competed in eight NASCAR premier series events winning one pole at the 1.4-mile Marchbanks Speedway in Hanford.
Takeuchi, a public address announcer and media relations director, became a familiar figure at racing throughout northern and central California from the late 1950s. The Fresno, Calif. native began his career at the old Selma (Calif.) Rodeo Grounds. When hardtop and supermodified racing blossomed a few years later, Takeuchi followed the three and four-night a week circuit to NASCAR tracks at Kearney Bowl, San Jose Speedway, Clovis Speedway and Altamont Speedway. He was among sport’s most visible figures, interviewing top competitors from trackside. The fifth media category inductee, Takeuchi remains active with several vintage racing organizations.