Rudy Macgowan, left, Doc Blevins, Dallas Langley, Mike Skinner, Angie Skinner, Richard Childress, Judy Childress, Bill Davis and Gail Davis celebrate Mike Skinner’s induction into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame on Thursday, June 19 in Napa, California. Photo submitted
July 1 — About 40 years ago, Mike Skinner made his stock car racing debut on the dirt track at Diamond Mountain Speedway in Susanville. Now, after a successful career in NASCAR and a national truck championship, Skinner has been inducted to the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
“To be able to even be eligible for nomination, you have to achieve success at the highest level attainable in the Western United States … it’s a big deal,” said Ken Clapp, West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Board Chairman.
Skinner is a Susanville native who began racing at the Lassen County Fairgrounds in the 1970s. In the early 90s, he moved to North Carolina to seek out a career in racing, and ended up winning the Late Model Championship at Caraway Speedway a year later.
In 1995, he was hired by Richard Childress Racing and competed in the first NASCAR Camping Work Truck Series. He won the race that year and went on to rack up seven more wins and the first championship in the series. Shortly after, he began racing full time in the Sprint Cup Series and was awarded Rookie of the Year.
In the early 2000s, Skinner returned to truck series racing. He is the only driver to compete in every truck race since the series began.
“His major win actually came in Motegi, Japan in 1998. He sat on the pole, meaning he had the fastest qualifying time for the Daytona 500. He never won a sprint cup race. He led plenty of them, but it’s very very hard to win … he won a lot of truck races and a national championship,” Clapp said.
There are more than a dozen board members, all experienced in motor sports, who vote on nominees for the hall of fame. Only five racers are inducted per year. Since the hall of fame’s creation in the 2000s, less than 200 people have received the honor of being inducted. According to Clapp, nominees can stay on the ballot for years and still not get voted in.
“It’s the most highly recognized motor sports hall of fame in the West Coast. It’s the one that’s the most desired and dreamed about to get into … it’s hard to get in,” said Clapp.
For the complete story, see the Tuesday, July 1 edition of the Lassen County Times.