2009

Grace Katagiri – Richard (Dick) Templeton – Tracer Racing – Chuck Billington and Tom Foster

grace2Grace Katagiri

[1948-2004] Grace initially became a member of SCCA through her husband, Brad Itokazu, when he was a race driver. She became bored just watching the cars drive around and wanted to do something different, so she began to volunteer in various roles, from flagman, turn marshal, and sound judge. She attended races about 15 times a year, and worked in communications for race control. Grace was a born teacher and soon became an Assistant Chief of Communications in charge of training.

Grace was one of the first women to become a turn marshal before she was asked to become the Sound Judge, following in the footsteps of Marye Jayne Perry and Patty Piantanita, at an extremely sensitive time when the SCCA began enforcing sound limits. Her calm, professional demeanor helped pave the way for today’s sound regulations. Today, it’s called the Chief of Sound, but in the early days it was Sound Judge to avoid protests.

Grace graduated from UC Berkeley in 1970 with a degree in English. She then took a job as a secretary in UC Berkeley’s Department of Economics. She had no formal training in economics or computer science, but was so organized and quick on her feet that she was soon tapped to become an administrator to econometrics Professor Daniel McFadden.
For her efforts to make sound control work for both the racers as well as the San Francisco Region, she was awarded the region’s highest award, The Premier Award of Merit in 1996.

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Richard (Dick) Templeton

Dick’s interest in racing was sparked when his mother took him with her to volunteer at the Children’s Home Society booth at the Pebble Beach Road Races. He then joined the Laguna Seca track crew in 1962 because it got him into the races and he could get paid for it too.  In 1965 he became a corner worker with United States Auto Race Marshalls (USARM).  Martin Illgen (2006 SFR HOF Inductee) awarded Dick USARM’s Flagger of the Year award in 1968. Dick joined SCCA in 1967 when he began driving a Lotus Cortina in “B” Sedan.  He later drove a Formula Ford.

From 1991 to 1998 Dick was the NORPAC Executive Steward.  He has been an acting Chief Steward for the Ferrari Challenge and an Assistant Chief Steward to Marty Kaufman at the inaugural Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta in 1998.  If that weren’t enough, he has served as the Chief Steward in Trans-Am in 2001 and 2002.

In 2001 he received SCCA’s David Morell Award, presented to encourage continued participation in the Steward’s program by recognition of an active National Chief Steward who has exhibited outstanding performance and dedication.

He became a member of SCCA’s National Court of Appeals in 2007 and is currently the Assistant Chief Steward for the SCCA Playboy Mazda RX-5 series.

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Chuck Billington

Tracer Racing – Chuck Billington
and Tom

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Tom Foster

Foster

Tracer Racing was formed in 1979 by San Francisco Region drivers Chuck Billington [1940-2006] and Tom Foster [1949-1999]. Each had been successful independent drivers. Chuck had raced various sports cars in the early sixties on the amateur level and he’d even tried off-road racing with some good results. Tom had been driving since the early seventies with several first places and 40% of his finishes on the podium driving a Brabham Formula B.

Tom loved to design different car body styles. Each of them trying to get an extra ½ second better lap time. If an idea worked it was put on both cars to give them an equal advantage. Over the years several different chassis and engine combinations were tried. Tiga/Cosworth, Lola/Cosworth, March/Cosworth, Tracer TR2/VW Super V, and in 1994 Chuck decided on the Mazda rotary engine. This change proved to be a great help to the Mazda Racing development team in improving the performance and reliability of the Mazda engines.

In 1979 the team was named Tracer Racing on a cold night at Road Atlanta where everyone was standing around a 55 gal. drum fire, trying to stay warm. Tom noticed that the embers going into the night sky looked like tracer bullets and the name stuck.

The Pacific Coast Road Racing Championship (PCRRC) ran from its inaugural in 1978 until 2002 – 25 years. All of those races, except one, were held at Sears Point Raceway, now called Infineon Raceway. Tom and Chuck both had high regard for the volunteers who make each race function. They wanted to show the corner workers they appreciated their tireless work. A BBQ seemed like a great way to do that. Even though the intent was to keep it small, and just for the workers, it grew in popularity to include driver and crews as well. Tracer Racing held these BBQ’s for most of those 25 years. When the Foster Farms truck arrived at the racetrack, the logos had been covered by plain white paper which read “Valley Drivers”, and it was known as the Valley Drivers BBQ.

Chuck and Tom earned enough points to go to Road Atlanta for the 1978 SCCA National Runoffs. Twenty years later, with 13 National Championships, six for Chuck and seven for Tom, they decided to call it quits. They were inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2011.

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