Northwest motorsports legends honored at World of Speed
The World of Speed museum in Wilsonville has opened a new Northwest Motorsports Hall of Fame exhibit to celebrate local racing history. The exhibit honors individuals who have made important contributions to the Pacific Northwest's racing heritage.
"One of the main questions I get from visitors is — why build a motorsports museum in the Northwest," said Ron Huegli, World of Speed curator. "Many people don't know about the incredibly rich racing history right in our own backyard. Some of the best racers in the world got their start in the Northwest or have raced one of our tracks."
The inaugural inductions began with Rolla Vollstedt for his contributions to open wheel racing. Vollstedt built cars to compete in the Indianapolis 500 for twenty years, after beginning his career at Portland Speedway. Vollstedt made history in 1976 by selecting Janet Guthrie as driver. Guthrie was the first woman to compete in the Indy 500.
For stock car racing, Hershel McGriff was inducted. McGriff won the first race after World War II at Portland Speedway, and went on to have a successful career in NASCAR and several other racing series.
Monte Shelton was inducted for his success as a sports car racer. The longtime Portland auto dealer has won the Rose Cup race a record seven times, most recently in 2006. Shelton is still a licensed racing driver in his 80s, and has held a racing license for over 56 years.
Drag Racing legend Jack Coonrod was inducted after a long career in racing that began in 1962. Coonrod is one of the leading drag racers to hail from the Pacific Northwest, having started racing in a modified Ford Model T.
Beaverton auto dealer Bob Lanphere, Sr. was inducted posthumously for his contributions to the sport of motorcycle racing. Lanphere was an avid motorcycle racer, and opened his first Honda motorcycle dealership on Southwest Broadway Street and Hall Boulevard in Beaverton in 1964.
Dale LaFollette was inducted as an at-large member of the Hall of Fame for his work managing the growth of Portland International Raceway. LaFollette managed the race track through its greatest growth period from the 1970s to the 1990s.
"It was an honor to recognize each inductee in front of their friends, family and fans," Huegli said. "Thanks to the Northwest Hall of Fame, their legacy will live on at World of Speed for future generations."