Cloyd Gray – Jim Keane – George Scott McDowell
[19xx –1977] Cloyd Gray, may not be a name familiar to many current members of the San Francisco Region, but it is fitting to remember the man who helped build our Region into the leading position it holds today. Gray began racing with the Region in 1954 in what was to become the familiar number 34 Jaguar XK120. A fierce competitor as anyone who raced against him could attest, he won his share of trophies, including first in class at Pebble Beach and Laguna Seca. Campaigning his next car, a 1957 Corvette, Gray won the 1958 B Regional Championship.
While supporting the Region as a competitor for many seasons, Gray also exerted a powerful and significantly positive effect on the well-being of the Region. In 1959, he was a Director, Chairman of the Regional Contest Board and Chief Steward, this in the days when most of the responsibility for the successful execution of a race meeting fell on the shoulders of the Chief Steward. In 1960, Gray became the Regional Executive followed by Membership Chairman in 1961; Chief Steward in 1962 and 1963 and finally, Member-at-Large in 1964.
During this period, the Region and the sport were struggling to make the changes necessary to go from essentially amateur club racing to the busy combined amateur and pro racing schedule of today. These changes were not easy and were materially assisted by Gray’s efforts both as R.E. and Steward, which did much to pave the way for the present successful racing program we all enjoy. Among other improvements, Gray initiated the Competition Committee through which our racing policies were developed.
Eventually, Gray ascended to the become president of Schlage Lock Company and the demands of the job prevented his further direct involvement with the Club’s activities. However, his love of racing stayed with him to the point where he found his old #34 Jaguar race car, spent a few years restoring it and won numerous awards in Northern California Concours.
Cloyd Gray passed away in 1977 but his memory and accomplishments for the San Francisco Region will now become part of the Hall of Fame.
Jim was recruited by his good friend Don Seike in 1960. Membership in those years was still quite exclusive and to join, a prospective new member needed two sponsors to join the club. Don convinced Jim he had to volunteer for two years before Don could get a second vote so Jim joined the emergency crew, and in 1962 finally became a member.
Jim worked on the emergency crew along with Don Seike and Don’s brother Dick and Dr. Roy Porter until 1970 when he became the chief. He remained the chief until 1976 when business forced him to move to Southern Calif. The Region board didn’t want a chief living out of the region so he resigned. Even though he lived in Southern Calif., he continued to work on the crew.
When Jim joined the emergency crew they were a little short on personnel and vehicles. Dr. Porter, in his Ferrari was the first responder and Seike rode in the ambulance and Jim rode the tow truck. On occasion they had Dick Seike and his 4-wheel drive Land Rover.
In 1973 the Region hosted the first West Coast SCCA Convention in San Francisco. Don Seike was the chairman and he convinced Jim into helping him. Don wanted all the emergency vehicles displayed on Geary Street in front of the hotel. Dick Seike was a fire chief with the SF Fire Dept and put up “official” No Parking signs for a full block. The first car in line was Jim’s new white Cadillac with a magnetic sign that read “SFR Emergency Vehicle” on the doors. It was the talk of the convention as many regions couldn’t afford a crash truck but SFR had a Cadillac!
When Jim moved back to northern Calif. in 1977, he became Chief of Banquet and Social. In 1984 he gave up the Social duties to concentrate on the Banquet where he served as Chief for the next 26 years. He served as a Chief for a total of 35 years of his 50 year membership. Jim is one of few 50 year members actively working on a crew. He holds a Regional Registration license and a National Administration license.
Jim has received numerous awards over the years. In 1981 he received Worker of the Year Award as Social Chief; in 1983 & 1986 he received the RE’s Award as Social Chief; in 1997 he received a Board Award as Social Consultant Chief and in 2009 both Jim and his wife Marcia received a Board Award as Banquet Co-Chiefs.
George Scott McDowell
[1913 – 2001] George was born in Berkeley, California on April 30, 1913 and raised in that city.
During WWII, he served in the Coast Guard in the Aleutian Islands and was the youngest man to attain the rank of Commander. On his return to California he bought an MGTD.
He joined Cal Club in 1950 and raced an MGTD. He told the story of driving past Torrey Pines one day and saw the sign for a race. He thought that looked interesting, so he entered and thus began his love of sports car racing. He owned the TD, an MGA and an Elva front engine Formula Junior. He also raced a Lotus and a BMC Mark 1 Formula Junior. It took him 8 years to decide he liked these “funny little cars” and in 1958 he finally joined the San Francisco Region of SCCA. He not only raced, he was active in gymkhanas and rallying. He was one of the first to mount an 8mm camera on a fender for “in car” movies.
During 1962 and about half of 1963 George was the region’s Chief Driver Observer.
In 1963 he joined the steward’s program. He spent three years as the San Francisco Region’s insurance counselor. During 1966 he was Chairman of the SFR’s stewards’ committee and a member of the National Insurance Committee.
In 1967 George was the Chief Steward of the San Francisco Region, Executive Steward for the Northern Pacific Division, and Chairman of the SCCA National Insurance Committee. He held the position of Chairman of the National Insurance Committee in 1967 and 68 and again in 1973 and 1974, serving on the committee for all the years in between.
George also worked tirelessly behind the scenes and was instrumental in forming the Sacramento Chapter of the San Francisco Region. He had great respect for the turn workers, and especially the “phone girls” and fought to get women admitted to the stewards program.
George was accused of many things: using the black flag too much, of not using it enough, of being too easy on drivers and of being too hard on drivers; but he was always fair and consistent. When he became Chief Driver Observer, his daughter, Dee Dee began referring to him as DO Daddy. After that, he was affectionately called “Father” and many of us he was, and still is, affectionately referred to as “Father”.
George was in the insurance business for 51 years; first with Aetna and then with several offices of Lloyd’s of London. He opened his own firm, George S. McDowell Insurance in Sacramento in 1953 specializing in hard-to-place, substandard, and unusual risks.
George was the father of 3 children; two sons and a daughter. He is survived by his son Patrick of North Carolina, and wife Edra who lives in Sacramento.