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 Posted: Tuesday Mar 24th, 2015 05:57 PM
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Class of 2015 Races into Elma Auto Racing Hall of Fame

Elma, WA (March 21, 2015)……The Class of 2015 officially entered the Elma Auto Racing Hall of Fame before an estimated crowd of 250 people during a ceremony in the Elma Eagles Hall.

The eight newest members of the EARHoF were introduced to the standing room only crowd by master of ceremony Bob Valencia. Facts and interesting details were given about each inductee then the inductee addressed the audience with each thanking those that had helped them reach hall of fame status.

EARHoF board members Cindy Badgett and George Wade presented each inductee with EARHoF Induction Jackets and framed certificates after which each individual was interviewed by Shaun Hulbert for the Shaun in the Dirt podcast that can be found at http://shauninthedirt.podomatic.com/entry/2015-03-22T10_55_13-07_00.

Four time sprint car champion, Mike Zvono was the first 2015 inductee. Zvono who is deceased was represented by his daughter Cari Babcock and his son Troy Zvono. Valencia introduced Zvono as one of the best ever seen at Grays Harbor Raceway and talked about Zvono winning at everything he raced from soap box derby to go carts to sprint cars. The Montesano native joins his father Nick Zvono as an EARHoF Inductee. Babcock and Zvono spoke about how much their father loved racing and how proud they were of him.

An emotional John Dickinson was the second to be honored. The former Montesano postal worker became involved in racing in 1968 as part owner and crew member and became one of the top sprint car crew chiefs before stepping away from racing in 2012. Dickinson also had a stint as the Evergreen Auto Racing Association president and led the group thru some of its most successful years. Now a resident of Arizona, Dickinson expressed his appreciation for the award, especially since his lifelong friend Mike Zvono was going in at the same time.

1970 Jalopy Champion, Earl Fritts was introduced by Valencia next. Fritts got his start at Elma when Al Lytle let him try out his car. Deciding it was something he enjoyed, Fritts built his first car with the help of 2014 EARHoF Inductee Herman Burns in 1968. Fritts teamed up with another Hall of Famer, Perry Crowell, in 1970 and raced jalopies, limited modifieds, and super modifieds throughout the Northwest. Fritts thanked everyone for his recognition and told the crowd how his racing career basically came to an end after a bad accident at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe. Living in Arizona, Fritts occasionally attends NASCAR events.

Sedro Wooley’s Charlie Gibbs, Jr. hooked up with Hall of Famer Jim Sutherby and raced to the 1970 Limited Modified Championship. Gibbs, his wife Dorthy and their 2 children traveled to tracks all over the Northwest and loved the racing scene. Besides being a top driver, Gibbs was a very accomplished mechanic and likeable guy. Daughter Cheryl Gibbs-Taylor and son Wes Gibbs represented their father who passed away two years ago. Both expressed how much their father enjoyed racing at Elma and Cheryl stated that possibly her father was most proud of being recognized with a Sportsmanship Award he won.

In the early 70s John VanWyck began racing in the jalopy class. He moved to the hobby stock class and found success winning the 1977 title. Moving to the super stock class, VanWyck continued racing until moving to Nevada to try his had at gold mining. After returning to Grays Harbor he became a tow truck driver and became a fixture at GHR towing cars back to the pits in the Aberdeen Auto Wrecking Truck. VanWyck thanked his brother Jeff Farnam, Bill Combs, and Ken Courts for all the help they gave him.

Ken Courts is one of the few remaining drivers who raced at the original Grays Harbor race track at Clemons Hill in Central Park starting in 1954. Taking a few years off to help his wife raise their 8 kids, Courts returned to the driver’s seat in 1968. Racing on a shoe string while providing for his family, Courts reached his highest point finish, 4th in the 1976 hobby stocks. Known as someone who was willing to help anyone and everyone, Courts expressed how that is his fondest memory of racing, the comradery of all the racers. He continues to attend the races at GHR as fan in the stands.

The Larry Spoon Distinguished Service Award was presented to Earle Sargent for his love of the sport and the never ending support he has given. Sargent drove a jalopy for two years that he and a partner purchased for $50. When racing was stopped at the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds in the early 60s, Sargent stepped away from racing, but he couldn’t stay away and got back into racing as a crew member and traveled all over with the Perry Crowell teams and Al Lytle teams. A season ticket holder at GHR, Sargent seldom misses a race and is a very enthusiastic supporter, stating, “He just loves the sport and feels fortunate to be able to do something he loves doing.”

If there was a title of Mr. Modified at GHR it would quite possibly belong to 1997 super stock title holder, Glenn Vincent. Instrumental in helping Fred Brownfield start the IMCA style modifieds at GHR, Vincent has driven, sponsored, and helped grow the class throughout the Northwest. One of Vincent’s crowning achievements is the Shipwreck Beads Modified Nationals. Along with his wife Lisa, the Vincent’s support and sponsorship have turned the weekend into one of the biggest events in the Northwest. Though he finds it hard to be at the track without driving, Vincent continues to sponsor the modifieds at GHR and also at Skagit Speedway. His fantastic support and effort have earned Glenn Vincent the Fred Brownfield Exemplary Service Award.

The evening ended with Valencia spurring the audience on in a Dessert Auction that raised over one thousand dollars for the volunteer non-profit Elma Auto Racing Hall of Fame.

EARHoF President, Rick Leighty, summed the event up in glowing terms. “Congratulations to our 2015 Inductees. This was our 7th Induction Ceremony and I would have to say it may have been our most successful. We had a huge crowd, honored some great men, and raised a fair amount of money for preserving and honor our racing heritage. We are already looking and planning for next year. We have outgrown the Elma Eagles Hall. We want to thank them for their support over the years, but if we want this event to continue to grow and prosper, and we do, we have to move to someplace larger. Thank you to everyone for your support!”

The EARHoF would like to thank Shaun Hulbert of “Shaun in the Dirt” for podcasting the ceremony, Aaron Reed of “Aaron’s Racing Videos” for videoing the evening, and Brendan Carl of “The Daily World Newspaper” for covering the activities.

Next up for the EARHoF will be the 7th Annual EARHoF Spaghetti Feed Fundraiser and EARA Reunion on July 4th in the Borden-Seabert Exhibition Hall at the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds.

Further information on the EARHoF can be found at http://elmaautoracinghalloffame.webs.com.

Elma Auto Racing Hall of Fame
9th Annual EARHoF Induction Ceremony
Stay Beyond Inn & Suites, Elma, WA
March 18, 2017

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