Friday, October 9, 2009

Hershel McGriff - In His Own Words

Hershel McGriff and NASCAR Race MomHershel McGriff and NASCAR Race Mom
Infineon Raceway, June 2009

Born December 14, 1927 in Bridal Veil, Oregon, Hershel McGriff launched his stock car racing career in September of 1945 at the dirt Portland Speedway. He finished thirteenth in his family’s sedan.

With 35 victories, McGriff has the most wins of any Winston West active competitor. He won the 1950 Mexican Road Race and competed in the first Southern 500 at Darlington International Raceway. McGriff also competed in a stock car at LeMans, France, in Australia and in Japan. He won the 1986 NASCAR Winston West Series Championship and tops the list of pole awards in Winston West Series poles with thirty -five. Additionally, Hershel McGriff was voted ‘Most Popular Driver’ twelve times over his long NASCAR career.

McGriff was inducted in the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in its first class in 2002. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2006. McGriff, who had retired from driving at age 74 (in 2002) said, "This is fantastic, getting in the Hall of Fame, but, hey, I might not be through yet. When I turn 80 [in two years], I just might go out to a short track and show the young guys that I can still do it."

True to his word, NASCAR Race Mom had the pleasure of first meeting Racecar Driver McGriff at the NASCAR Camping World Series West Infineon Race on June 20, 2009. The eighty-one year old had enough of retirement, and the legendary driver made his return behind the wheel for the Bennett Lane Winery 200, presented by Supercuts. Unfortunately, Hershel McGriff failed to make the field.

Not to be discouraged, on July 19, 2009 McGriff qualified his 04 Park Corporation Chevrolet in twenty-first position and finished thirteenth. A couple of weeks later, he qualified twenty-second at 2.2-Mile Road Course of Miller Motorsports Park and took the checkered flag in nineteenth place after suffering a late race flat tire.

Moses Smith, NRM & McGriffMoses Smith, z. & McGriff
Miller Motorsports Park, August 2009

In His Own Words - Hershel McGriff

NRM - What is the biggest difference between when you returned to racing after not racing for around 10 years in 1967 and your return to the NASCAR Camping World Series West in 2009?

Hershel McGriff – “The biggest difference would be rules pertaining to the race cars - in the 60's & 70's, we ran stock body cars as they came from the factory, so that made it easy to get a car and enter races. Now, they are more technical with rules which makes it expensive to race, especially when the purses don't amount to much. Also, a big difference in my latest return was press coverage because I'm 81, what's the big deal?"

NRM - What do you do to keep yourself race ready?

Hershel McGriff - "I keep busy, get up early, ride a bicycle 4 or 5 times a week. I still work, and my wife watches my diet."

NRM - What does the Most Popular Driver Award, which you have won twelve times, mean to you? "

Hershel McGriff - “The most popular driver award means a lot when your competitors are the ones voting. It was quite an honor to win it twelve times in a row. Maybe I didn't ruffle any feathers, so they voted for me. HA!"

NRM - What is your advice to the current drivers in the Camping World Series West Championship?

Hershel McGriff - "My advice to the younger drivers in the West series is to not drive like it's a destruction derby. These cars are expensive to fix. The old saying, "you can't win on the first lap" is true."

NRM - What are you plans for 2010

Hershel McGriff - “I would like to run all road courses for both East & West series. I'm working on it now.”

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