Uncategorized — March 17, 2018 at 4:47 pm

EARHoF 2018: Dan West Jr.

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Elma Hall of Fame (03-17-18) Dan West Jr 4953

EARHoF inductee Dan West Jr.

By Andrew Kunas

Our first 2018 inductee was one of the most versatile racers to ever compete at the Elma race track and around the Pacific Northwest, winning track championships in four different classes. He didn’t think much about accomplishments, however, as he just liked racing and was out to be the best he could be, both at the track and in the shop at home. That also said, despite winning races and championships, he never really got used to speaking in front of people, whether it be on the front stretch after a dash or main event win or at a banquet getting a championship trophy. We’ll see how he does here tonight.

His father Dan Sr. had previously raced out on the old Elma half mile, and the son got interested in racing when he was in grade school. He picked up a book or two on the subject and got into karts. After some time in the karts he came to Elma and began racing in the bomber class in 1987. Back in those days endurance races were common in that class, 100 laps in one direction and 100 laps going the other direction. In 1988 he won his first track championship in Elma, claiming the bomber title a year after Don Warren, one of his favorite rivals at the time, did the same.

He always wanted to improve as a racer. After that bomber championship, he quickly moved into street stocks and then super stocks. The wins and championships kept coming – another three of them coming in the super stock division in 1990, 1994 and 1996 while competing often with friend and rival Dan Daniel and also future sprint car champion Jay Cole.

Always willing to try something different, he even got into a sprint car a few times, driving a back-up car for Stormy Glick.

Like many of us he was good friends with the late Fred Brownfield, who became the promoter of Grays Harbor Raceway in 1998. With Brownfield at the helm came some changes, including the introduction of the modified division in Elma in 1999. Adding to his versatility as a racer, he was among the first drivers to race in the modifieds regularly at Grays Harbor Raceway and he ended up winning the inaugural modified championship that 1999 season. While he doesn’t think about his accomplishments much, that was one championship he was proud of.

And while he was racing modifieds on the dirt, he also did some late model racing on the asphalt, hitting tracks such as South Sound Speedway and the old Spanaway Speedway. While in the modifieds, he greatly enjoyed racing with the likes of Glenn Vincent and Scott Miller, and in the late models he really admired Tom Sweatman, who ironically now races modifieds and is now the defending track champion at Elma.

Fred Brownfield introduced the Focus midget division to the Pacific Northwest in the mid 2000’s. Although there were only a few cars that first year or two, it quickly grew after that. One of the first drivers who got in one of those midgets was Don Billings, who was a crewman for this inductee during the 1990’s. Don Billings, in turn, decided to put this inductee in a Focus midget also. Almost two decades after winning his first title at Elma, he had one more in him as he won the 2007 track championship in the Focus midgets.

To this emcee’s knowledge, including karts he raced in at least eight different classes of race cars, including six different classes at Grays Harbor Raceway, winning six total track championships in four of them. Having raced in so many different cars, he could perhaps be called a local Elma version of A.J. Foyt or Tony Stewart.

Again not liking to talk much, he says he just likes racing and is happy he was lucky enough to do what he loved to do for as long as he did, and loved racing with some of the best out there. He just did his best to win each night, and had great admiration and respect for some who really put in the time and effort, like the Tom Sweatman’s and Jay Cole’s of the world. That being said; there are many people out there – and in this room tonight – who have great respect and admiration for this man who achieved so much success in racing in many different forms over the better part of three decades.

Please join me in welcoming this 2018 inductee into the Elma Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Dan West Jr.

 

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