Legends of Riverside

 

Hershell McGriff

Hershel McGriff won four races during his brief career in the NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) series, and later in the NASCAR Winston West Series.Racing career. McGriff first raced on September 16, 1945, right after racing resumed in the United States after World War II. He was the winner of the first Carrera Panamericana in 1950, where he met NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. France convinced McGriff to come south and race in NASCAR races at Daytona Beach, the first Southern 500 race at Darlington Raceway, Detroit, and Raleigh. France convinced McGriff to race full-time in NASCAR in 1954. He had his four wins that year in the Grand National series.

He had 17 Top 10 finishes in 24 events, and finished sixth in the final points standings. McGriff's average finishing position was higher than points champion Lee Petty. McGriff had two options to choose from for the 1955 season. He was offered a ride in NASCAR to race for millionaire Carl Kiekhaefer's newly formed team. McGriff decided to return home to the West Coast to be closer to his family, and to tend to his growing timber and mill business. Tim Flock drove Kiekhaefer's Chrysler 300 to 18 victories that season and the season championship. McGriff returned to racing after not racing for around 10 years. He started 41st at Riverside in 1967, and had moved up to second place by the sixth lap. He beat Ron Grable in a photo finish that day.

He became the oldest driver to win a NASCAR feature race when he won an AutoZone West Series race in 1989 at the age of 61. His 14 wins at Riverside International Raceway is the most at NASCAR-sanctioned events, and he was chosen as the grand marshal for the final race at the track in 1988. In November 1996, McGriff made the trip with several NASCAR champions, current Winston Cup, Busch Grand National and Craftsman Truck Series drivers to Japan's Suzuka Raceway for an exhibition race. He started 26th and finished 25th in what was called the NASCAR Suzuka Thunder Special. On July 18 2010, at age 82, Hershel raced on the Portland International Raceway.Career awards

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 retired from driving at age 74 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.".

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