Stock car driver Ron Hornaday Sr. and his familiar No. 97 Ford from Galpin Motors. Photo(s) from an undated (1982) Saugus Speedway program promoting
a "Past Champions Night," in which Hornaday participated, on Sept. 18, 1982.
Stock car driver Ron Hornaday Sr. (January 13, 1931 - December 21, 2008) got his racing start at Saugus in the 1950s. A San Fernando Valley resident, he made 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts between 1955 and 1973. He was the 1965 Saugus Speedway champion and a two-time Winston West Champion.
Hornday was parts and service manager at Galpin Ford in what is now North Hills. He raced a Ford from Galpin Motors, No. 97.
Hornaday's son, Ron Jr. (b. June 20, 1958), who lived in Canyon Country, would rival his fame. Ron Jr. raced a Ford Thunderbird at Saugus and used his father's number, 97. He went on to become a four-time champion of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the last win coming in 2009.
His son, Ron III (b. August 1, 1979) is also a NASCAR driver.
Ron Sr. was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in its first year, 2002.
From the Hall of Fame
Another of the San Fernando Valley clan and one of Frank Galpin Ford's top guns, Ron Hornaday Sr. first ran the old Pacific Coast Late Model Circuit in 1956.
The competition and equipment were good, but it was not an easy task for a newcomer to master.
Within just a few seasons, however, Ron was winning races and challenging for championships.
With a second place in the 1962 title chase behind Eddie Gray, Ron had finally given notice that he was a force to be reckoned with.
In 1963 and again in '64, Ron won back-to-back titles. Along the way he garnered 13 victories, tying him for 12th all time with Danny Letner,
Jim Robinson and Butch Gilliland. Ron won a great number of late model sportsman races over a 20-year span in and around Southern California.
Son Ron Jr. has kept the family name before the public in recent years, and it does not look like it will be fading away anytime soon.
[NASCAR, Dec. 25, 2008] — Ron Hornaday Sr., a two-time NASCAR West Coast champion and patriarch of the West Coast racing Hornaday family, has died of cancer. He was 77.
Hornaday, who died Sunday in his native California, was the father Ron Hornaday Jr. who won three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series titles. His grandson Ronnie continued the family tradition in 1999, making his NASCAR debut at the age of 19.
"Our father was the inspiration to all of us and was a true champion to the very end," Hornaday Jr. said in a statement posted on his web site. "We will miss him so very much but it is a comfort to know that he is now with his beloved wife and our mother, Helen, where he wanted to be."
Helen Hornaday died in 2001.
Hornaday began racing at Saugus Speedway and Ascot Park in Southern California in the 1950s.
Hornaday's weekday job was as parts and service manager at Galpin Ford in North Hills. And dealership owner Frank Galpin sponsored Hornaday's Fords for much of his racing career.
Hornaday's Cup debut came at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in May of 1955, finishing 14th in a field of 29 cars, earning him a $25 paycheck.
He would make sporadic starts the next two decades, mainly when NASCAR's premier series made its annual trip west.
Hornaday found great success in NASCAR's Pacific Coast stock-car circuit, where he finished second in 1962, then won back-to-back titles the next two seasons.
"Ron Sr. was a great champion and one of the true pioneers in NASCAR's west coast efforts," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."