2011

Harry Mhoon Fair – Gary Meeker – Jon Norman – Bob Stegall

harry-fair-1952

Harry Mhoon Fair

[1917 –1980] Local businessman Harry Mhoon Fair played an active role in the very early years of the San Francisco Region.  Fair was born in 1917, raised in the Bay Area and after graduating from Stanford University, he embarked on a business career with companies located in San Francisco, Monterey and Half Moon Bay.  He was a family man with a wife and three small children but he also had a keen interest in sports cars.

When the SF Region was organized in 1948, the initial members would have considered themselves “gentlemen drivers” since they were from the higher levels of society.  Membership in those early years was quite exclusive and to join, a prospective new member had to be sponsored by an existing member and deemed “acceptable” by the group.  The atmosphere was very much like gaining membership in an exclusive country club.  Of course this attitude changed dramatically over the years but it was a factor early on in restricting who could join the club.

Being a Stanford graduate, Fair was a welcome addition to the club at its inception.  Like most enthusiasts at the time, Fair bought an MG-TC and began participating in the MG Car Club activities including rallies, hill climbs, and gymkhanas and almost of equal importance, the social gatherings.  Fair was elected as the SFR’s first Regional Executive and thus became a key figure in moving the club into road racing.  Under his leadership, the club held the first, organized road race on the West Coast at Buchanan Field on Nov 20, 1949. Fair entered his MG-TD, and finished 2nd.  With the race being a success and the members looking for more opportunities to test their road race driving skills, the SFR leadership began planning for additional events.  While a follow up race at Buchanan was scheduled for May of 1950, the SFR leadership also looked for additional venues.  Fair was part of the group that surveyed the Monterey Peninsula for an appropriate site for what would become one of the most popular race events on the West Coast beginning later that same year, the races through the Del Monte forest at Pebble Beach.

In 1951, Fair relinquished his position as Regional Executive to Bill Breeze and took over the position with the race organizing committee for the Pebble Beach and Reno races.  In addition Fair raced his newly acquired Allard K2 at Reno and his trusty MG-TD at Pebble Beach.  1952 brought about another position within the club, that of Secretary/Treasurer.  Fair was also the vice-chairman of the organizing committee for the first Stockton race, and event he also entered in his Allard.

Fair continued his active involvement with the SFR in 1953 both as an administrator and driver.  He was the Vice-Chairman of the organizing committee for Pebble Beach and Stockton races.  In 1954, he was the Awards Chairman for Pebble Beach and the Registrar for the one and only races at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds.  1955 would mark Fair’s last year of active leadership when he was SFR Chairman of the Membership Committee and Chairman of the Awards Committee for Pebble Beach.

gary-meekerGary Meeker

Gary became involved in racing, after seeing his first race in 1958 at the Santa Barbara Airport. There was a driver there by the name of Elliott Forbes Robinson driving a Sprite, which was new to the US. Gary was so impressed, he bought one, drove it to LA to put in a roll bar. His dad owned a sheet metal business, so they filled a pipe with sand, heated it and bent it over a vise, cut it, welded flanges to mount it on the floor, drove to Del Mar, where he went to Registration and said he wanted to race. They sold him a membership (#1946), arranged with a driver dentist to give him a physical in a horse barn, and entered him in the novice race. The course was nothing but a Solo II type thing with hay bales. He knew nothing about flags, but after the race they gave him his Regional license. For the race, he took off the front bumper and muffler and thought it was highly modified. It wasn’t until years later that he found out that the EFR driver who inspired him to start racing, was really Elliott Forbes Robinson’s dad.

Gary raced an H-Prod Sprite from 1959 to 1963 in So. Cal. and resumed in 1975 in SFR and continued to 1990. He was Regional Champion in H Prod a number of times during those latter years. After that he was crew chief for his son Steve Hussey, the 1993 and 1995 National Champion for H-Prod at the Runoffs. Later he crewed for his son Rob Hussey who has competed in SFR in H-Prod and Spec Racer Ford.

From a Stewarding standpoint, Gary became a National Steward in 1984, a title he has today. And he became the Executive Steward for NORPAC from 2004 to the present. Gary has been part time Series Chief Steward for NASPORT, WCAR, and Formula Mazda. And he served IMSA for 3 years as their 928 Rapid Response Car Driver. After the years he spent crewing for Steve at the Runoffs, he had several different roles which included pace car driver at Mid-Ohio, Steward of the Course (which is like our Black Flag/Tech Steward), and a Steward of the Meet at the Runoffs all of the years he has served as an Executive Steward. When he is not needed as a Steward, Gary can be found on a turn working on the Communications crew.

From 1986 to 1995, Gary served on the SFR Board of Directors. Initially he was the Competition Director and he subsequently served 5 years as the Regional Executive. This was during the time the Region was looking for property to build its own racetrack. He traveled to several potential sites and once the Thunderhill property was identified, was heavily involved in the acquisition of it. He worked with the lawyers to set up San Francisco Regional Properties and has served on that Board from 1986 to the present. He was part of the group which built the original 1.7 mile track, then the expansion to the 2.5 mile track, and the building of the Club House. As you know, Thunderhill has been profitable every year of operation since its construction. He is part of the group which oversees the constant improvement and expansion of that property. Gary is a firm believer that as far as our Region and Properties is concerned that there should be open visibility of our affairs, transparency if you will, which should be afforded to all members on all matters and that all questions should be answered.

As the Executive Steward for NORPAC, Gary represents us at the monthly conference call meetings where decisions are made which affect the drivers, crews, and workers. They help set the standards which keeps SCCA racing fun and fair. Also one of the things that Gary has been instrumental in has been to hold regular meetings with our RE to ensure that there is a smooth working relationship between the Region, drivers and the Stewards–who have the ultimate responsibility of running our races.

From 2004 to 2006 Gary served as a member of the Selection Committee as part of the national SCCA Hall of Fame. Since this had never been done before it was quite an honor to be chosen on the inaugural committee.

Gary has been honored several times by the SFR Board of Directors and the Regional Executive. In 2009 he received the SFR Premier Award of Merit. And at the 2007 National SCCA Convention, Gary received the David Morell Award which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Steward.

jonnorman

Jon Norman

Jon Norman has done it all in motor racing. He’s logged time as a fan, a mechanic, a driver, a team owner, a shop owner, a series administrator, a member of several boards of directors and, fittingly, an award winner. Now, as he is inducted into the San Francisco Region Hall of Fame, let us take a fleeting look at a career in the sport stretching back nearly 50 years.
It all began three years before the Summer of Love when Jon took his everyday Lotus 7A to his first Solo II event. In 1966 he joined the SCCA’s San Francisco Region and earned his competition license from a driver’s school at Riverside Raceway. His day job as parts manager at Steve Griswold’s Alfa Romeo dealership in Berkeley put him in a perfect position to get his feet wet in Club competition, racing the green Griswold Alfa Spider in ’68 and ’69.
His next task was rebuilding a wrecked Alfa GTA that became his ticket into the under-two-liter division of the Trans-Am in 1970. When the Trans-Am changed from 2.0 to 2.5 liters Jon upgraded as well, replacing the GTA with a GTV for ’71, but when he totaled it at Riverside his future looked bleak. Luckily, Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzman had just crashed his GTV road car and wanted to get rid of it before his wife found out. Enter Jon Norman, who rebuilt and modified the Alfa for competition, and ran it in the Trans-Am and SCCA Club Racing. He drove the car to the 1973 NORPAC B Sedan Divisional Championship and regularly qualified for the National Runoffs during the next decade.

Sedans weren’t Jon’s only passion though. He bought a Lotus 69 Formula Atlantic car for 1975, but soon realized it wasn’t a competitive proposition, so late in 1976 he purchased the wrecked chassis of the March 76B that Gilles Villeneuve had driven to nine race wins and two Formula Atlantic championships that year. After a rebuild he raced it for a couple of seasons in both Club and Pro Atlantic before retiring the car to the attic of his shop in Berkeley. About this time he also formed the Jon Norman Racing Group with partners Dan Marvin and Dennis Etcheverry to handle not only their own racing endeavors, but outside work as well.

He then acquired two new Atlantic March 79Bs that he and Marvin campaigned in 1979, when Jon qualified for and finished second in the National Runoffs at Road Atlanta. The next year he concentrated on team ownership in Atlantic, fielding Marvin and Price Cobb in a pair of Marches. The team, with Marvin driving, would ultimately become the competitive yardstick for the Atlantic series during the ’80s, taking Norman Racing’s subsequent Ralt RT4 to WCAR Atlantic championships in 1983 and ’84.

Through the ’80s Jon continued racing his GTV in Club, NASPORT and IMSA GTU competition, then decided to retire it to make way for a more competitive car in the same class. He ran his last race with the GTV at the 1991 Rose Cup in Portland, bringing the Alfa’s record to 142 races that produced 102 podium finishes and set lap records at Seattle, Portland, Sears Point, Laguna Seca, Riverside, Phoenix International and Firebird. That more competitive ride was a tube frame Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT that Norman Racing built for Jon to drive in NASPORT’s Pro Sedan Series for the rest of the ’90s.

In 2001, at the urging of his wife to race in a venue that was more age-appropriate, he decided to go where all his friends were: vintage. So, the trusty GTV was restored for vintage competition, and Jon remains active to this day, having raced the same car in a variety of categories for most of the past 40 years. In 2004 the March in the attic was brought down and given the Norman Racing Group restoration treatment, and is now being raced successfully in Historic Atlantic by Marvin.

Anyone who knows Jon realizes he is modest and understated, but they also understand he knows how to make things happen and get the job done, abilities that have served him well on racing’s administrative side. When the pro Atlantic series was in danger of vanishing after the failure of the FIA’s grand Formula Mondial scheme, Jon joined forces with Rick and Gudrun Shea and Tim Fortner in 1983 to found West Coast Atlantic Racing as a way to keep the category alive. Then, seeing a similar need for SCCA GT3 and 4 cars, he co-founded the NASPORT semi-pro sedan series in 1986.

During this time he also served on both the SCCA National Competition Board and the SCCA National Board of Directors as a representative of the Northern Pacific Division. He was also a member of the San Francisco Region’s Board of Directors between 1986 and 1994, a time he counts among the most fulfilling of his career. He worked characteristically hard on the Region’s new track committee to make Thunderhill a reality, and continues to serve on the track’s Board today. He is also a member of the Board of the Classic Sports Racing Group (CSRG), where he has served two terms and is currently the organization’s President.

A 28-year member of the prestigious Road Racing Drivers Club, Jon has served as the exclusive organization’s Western Region vice president, and he’s been a member of the local Racing Drivers Club since 1968. He has also been multiply honored by the San Francisco Region, first with its Wheel Award in 1981, then in 1985 for his service on the SCCA National Board and again in 1992 for his outstanding dedication to the Region. In 2009, he picked up both CSRG’s President Award and HMSA’s Briggs Cunningham Trophy.

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Bob Stegall

[1950 –2011] Bob joined the SCCA in 1981 after a co-worker invited him to come to Sears Point to see what he was doing as a member of the Timing & Scoring crew. He quickly found out he loved auto racing and he joined the Timing and Scoring crew.

When Bob joined the Timing & Scoring crew they were two separate specialties with two chiefs. After training as an assistant chief, in 1985 he became the chief with the goal of combining them into one specialty and of updating the SFR Timing & Scoring Manual.
In 1986, Doug Hargrove, an SFR region racer, began designing the hardware & software for the R&D timing system. Bob provided input (along with the rest of the T&S crew) on its development.  It was quite a challenge as they were developing an IBM system while the office used Apple equipment.  With his background as an application programmer with Bank of America, Bob felt confident they could make it work. For many months it was used in parallel to the existing timing system and results were compared. Then the day came and Bob was faced with a problem, he had to time a Friday qualifying and there were not enough people to do the job. This was the first use of the R&D system to do the official timing. This system was used by the Region for many years before the AMB system was put into place.

Along with being Chief of T&S for the San Francisco Region, Bob was also the Chief of T&S for some SCCA pro-racing series in the mid-1980’s. Bob was the Timing & Scoring Administrator for the SCCA Bosch/Volkswagen Super Vee Series from 1984 to 1990; he was the T&S Chief for the Formula Atlantic Series from 1990 to 1996, and the American Cities Racing League (ACRL) from 1996 to 1999. As part of the SCCA professional racing field staff, Bob also provided support to the Trans Am series.

Because of the time and responsibilities as a pro timing and scoring administrator needed and to hold down a full time job at Bank of America, Bob decided he could no longer be a pro chief and also be SFR’s Chief of T&S. So in 1987 Bob stepped down.

Bob’s behind the scenes contributions to the Region are numerous, well before any commercial products were available, which we take for granted today:

  • In the mid- 1980’s Bob designed and wrote software for membership maintenance and race entry processing. SFR could maintain its own database while accepting changes from National and merging them together.
  • Bob wrote a software program that allows electronic import of the race results from the timing system into the point’s software.
  • Using his skills as an application programmer he headed up the Regions web team which designed the Regions 1st web page and brought SFR into the internet age. Each web page was programmed & controlled individually.  One of its uses gave the drivers the ability to look up race results and see their championship points. It also allowed the Region to communicate news to its membership.
  • Bob wrote a program for the steward’s organization to develop an electronic database for tracking driver actions in our region.  This was most likely a first in the SCCA. He spent countless hours tuning that database to meet all of the stewards program needs. It is still in use today and will continue to be used to assist in institutional memory for driver’s action as well as aiding them in understanding which track and turn has the most incidents.

He eventually found time to go through driver’s school driving Lee Lucas’ Sports 2000 and for a short time; he raced a Formula 440 (now called F500).

Bob received numerous awards for his achievements over the years. In 1985 he received an SFR Board Award as the T&S Chief;  in 1989 and 1991 he was given the RE’s Award as T&S Asst. Chief;  in 2002 he was given a Board Award as a member of the Announce Crew;  in 2004 he was awarded the Thunderhill Worker Award as an Announcer. In 1996 he was given the Region’s highest honor, the Premier Award of Merit for his work as its Webmaster and in 2006 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as Webmaster, as an announcer and for his work in timing & scoring.

Dick Templeton has said “long before Professionalism, Integrity, Respect and Friendliness (PIRF), Bob epitomized what was good with SCCA”.

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