Auto Racing – Click on Inductee to view Biography
- Len Sutton - Auto Racing
A lifelong resident of Portland, Oregon, Sutton became involved in auto racing after serving in the Navy during World War II. He spun out in the first corner on his first lap at a dirt track. Sutton won Oregon Racing Association championships in 1949, 1950, 1954, and 1955. He flipped his car to avoid cattle during the 1954 Carrera Panamericana road race (now Baja 1000). He was in a body cast for 4 months. He also won midget car racing championships in Portland before he headed east to become a national touring driver.
He raced in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series from 1955 to 1965, with 76 career starts, 43 top ten finishes, and 3 victories.
Sutton completed his rookie test for the Indianapolis 500 in 1956. He flipped his car while attempting 140 miles per hour for the 1957 Indianapolis 500. He slide upside down with his helmet scraping the asphalt for nearly 1000 feet (300 m). A report in the following day's Indianapolis News said "Sutton was at first believed dead by observers on the scene." His injuries included broken shoulder, serious abrasions on his back, and a fractured skull. He returned to Indianapolis the following year and made his first start in the event. That year he finished 32nd after being eliminated in a multi-car accident during the first lap. He competed in the 500 six more times and had his best result in 1962. After starting the race 4th, he led 9 laps and finished second behind his teammate Rodger Ward. The next year, he set an unofficial Indianapolis Motor Speedway record when he went over 155 miles per hour (249 km/h) during a tire test.
Known for his versatility as a driver, Sutton also competed in roadsters, midgets, sprint cars, and stock cars. He finished 31st in the 1963 Daytona 500. Sutton decided to retire from driving during a 1965 race at Langhorne Speedway. Fellow competitor Mel Kenyon was severely burned in the race.
After retiring from driving, Sutton went into broadcasting and was a member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network for many years.
Sutton died at his home in Portland at age 81 after a long battle with cancer.
He was inducted in the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2005. Sutton was named to the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2009.
- Hershel McGriff - Auto Racing
A NASCAR legend, Hershel McGriff, began racing stock cars in 1945 at the age of 17. He is NASCAR Winston West’s oldest and winningest active competitor, with 35 victories. He won the Winston West championship in 1986 and has finished in the top ten in points thirteen times since 1971. On September 16, 1945 McGriff raced in his first race at Portland Speedway. He finished “12th or 13th” in a 250-lapper, cautiously navigating a muddy 5/8-mile track in his minister father’s 1940 Hudson.
Hershel won the 1940 Mexican Road Race, out-driving NASCAR founder Bill France and 131 other cars. He raced in the inaugural Southern 500 at Darlington International Raceway in South Carolina, and drove his racecar to the track all the way from his home in Portland, finished ninth in the race, then drove his car home again. Although he did compete in the SCCA Trans Am 2.5 Challenge and finished 19th in the 1982 Endurance Le Mans race, most of his time has been spent behind the wheel of a NASCAR stock car. During the 1970’s, Hershel drove for Petty Enterprises, swapping positions with the likes of Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, A.J. Foyt and Johnny Rutherford.
Career highlights for McGriff include: Helped form, and then race in, the NASCAR Winston West series with friend Bill France, Sr.; has raced and won in six different decades, starting in 1945; most wins (14) at the old Riverside, Calf., International Raceway; was presented with NASCAR's prestigious award of Excellence in 1994; and was voted one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers”.
- Monte Shelton - Auto Racing
Monte Shelton of Portland is one of the most accomplished race car drivers in the state's history. Shelton began racing in 1960 and has competed in more than 600 events during a driving career that spans more than four decades. He won the Portland Rose Cup an unprecedented six times and finished second seven times. He also is a two-time winner of the Six Hours at Watkins Glen. He has driven eleven times in the 24 Hours of Daytona and took third in 1979. He also raced seven years in the Trans-Am series, scoring five wins, with three second-place finishes and two third-place showings.