NASCAR Camping World Series, West Logo
Hershel McGriff Taking a Lap in the No. 4 NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model Series Olympia Beer sponsored Chevy Nova.
NASCAR Winston West Series Logo
Butch Gillland, 1997 NASCAR Winston West Series Champion and his son David Gilliland, 2004 NASCAR Winston West Series Rookie-of-the-Year.
NASCAR Winston West Series Logo
Kevin Harvick focused at Phoenix International Raceway.
NASCAR Corporate Logo.
Eric Holmes leads PJ Jones and the rest of the field at Infineon Raceway, in Sonoma, California.
Now in its 56th season, the NASCAR Camping World Series West can be traced back to 1954, when NASCAR came to the West Coast and began sanctioning the Pacific Coast Late Model circuit. The series visited tracks such as Oakland (Calif.) Speedway; Balboa Speedway in San Diego, Calif.; Bay Meadows Speedway in San Mateo, Calif.; and Carrell Speedway in Gardena, Calif.
Nine races were on the series schedule in 1954, with the first event being on the half-mile Oakland Speedway, which was known as “The Oakland Wall.” While Hershel McGriff won the pole position, it was Dick Rathmann who came through the field to win that first race in a 1952 Hudson.
Through the 1960s and 1970s the series visited fewer and fewer dirt tracks. The final race on a dirt track was in 1979. The circuit has continued to evolve, with various changes taking place during the 1980s and early 1990s. Through its years, the NASCAR Camping World Series West has had several titles. In addition to being known as the Pacific Coast Late Models it was called Grand National West, Winston West Grand National, and the NASCAR Winston West Series. In 2003, it was joined with what had been known as the Busch North Series and starting in 2008 comprise what is known as the NASCAR Camping World Series.
Competition for drivers has stretched beyond the United States, meanwhile, with racers from the West Coast participating in NASCAR events in Australia in 1988 and in Japan in 1996, 1997 and 1998. And in 1999 the NASCAR Camping World Series West became the first in NASCAR to hold a championship race outside of North America – with the season finale at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.
The names of many talented drivers, meanwhile, have been associated with the West Coast division through its history. In terms of overall victories, Jack McCoy leads with 54, followed by Ray Elder with 47 and Hershel McGriff with 35. When it comes to championships, Elder leads with six (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1975), followed by Bill Schmitt (1977, 1979, 1989 and 1990) and Roy Smith (1980, 1981, 1983 and 1988), each with four.
Elder’s team also made a significant mark in the racing world by becoming the only West Coast team to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (then Grand National) race. Elder won the Motor Trend Riverside 500 on Jan. 10, 1971 at Riverside International Raceway and a year later won the Golden State 400 on June 18, 1972 at Riverside.
Notable competitors in the early days included Lloyd Dane – who won the first championship in 1954 – as well as Danny Letner, Parnelli Jones, Marvin Porter, Bill Amick, Eddy Gray, Scott Cain and Ron Hornaday Sr. Other talented drivers included Chuck Bown, Jim Insolo, Jim Robinson, Rick Carelli, Derrike Cope and Chad Little. Ron Hornaday Jr., was the runner-up for the title in 1994 before heading to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he won three championships. A few of the more well-known recent graduates of the NASCAR Camping World Series West are Brendan Gaughan, who won back-to-back championships in 2000 and 2001; Kevin Harvick, who won the championship in 1998; and David Gilliland, who was the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2004.