CALISTOGA, Calif. — The Calistoga Speedway Hall of Fame selection committee has announced the most recent additions to its class of 2021 that includes the Hunt family, longtime promoters of Calistoga Speedway, and Rajo Jack, a barnstorming outlaw racer who broke auto racing’s color barrier during the late 1930s.
Two final additions to this year’s class are Paul Worden, a championship-winning mechanic and car owner and Dick Golden, the 1967 championship-winning sprint car owner for the Northern Auto Racing Club.
They will join five previously announced drivers and car owners to be inducted on Friday evening, Sept. 3, prior to the running of the Louie Vermeil Classic on Sept. 4-5 at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico.
Hall of Fame executive board member Ken Clapp noted that the induction of the Hunt family acknowledges decades of accomplishment and dedication to auto racing.
“When it comes to promoting auto racing, Tommy Hunt is the real deal,” said Clapp, who spent decades as a short-track promoter and as a NASCAR Senior Vice-President.
He noted that Calistoga Speedway’s success for the last 15 years has been due to the selfless work of the entire Hunt family, including Tommy, his wife Jeanne, daughter Laurie and son Tony. “It was their vision that created the Louie Vermeil Classic, one of Northern California’s premier racing events on the fall schedule,” said Clapp, “and they accomplished that after Tommy Hunt led the United States Auto Club’s racing operations on the west coast for more than a decade when his career as a driver ended.”
Dewey Gaston, better known as Rajo Jack, was a barnstormer “Outlaw” who raced his own independent schedule and drove anything with wheels from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. That included big cars (forerunners of today’s sprint cars), as well as midgets, stock cars and motorcycles throughout the West Coast. He is credited with 31 officials race wins and, as a Black man, broke the color barrier in racing decades before Wendall Scott joined NASCAR.
Worden was a second-generation racer who won his first championship in the American Roadster Ass’n as a mechanic in 1958, working on a car owned by his father. He moved into the driver’s seat in 1960 and, combining his driving and mechanical skills, won the 1961 Northern Auto Racing Club sprint car championship in a car he built from cast-off junk parts from his father.
They will join previously announced inductees Gene Figone, one of the most versatile drivers of his era who drove roadsters, midgets, champ cars and motorcycles on oval tracks throughout Northern California in the late 1930s and early 1940s; former sprint car owner Ray Smith; retired sprint car driver and seven-time Silver Dollar Speedway champion Shane Scott; former car owner Roger Henderson, Sr. and the 1986 Calistoga Speedway and Northern Auto Racing Club champion Rick Hirst.
The Hall of Fame dinner and the Louie Vermeil Classic were moved temporarily to Silver Dollar Speedway this year due to the unavailability of the Napa County Fairgrounds and Calistoga Speedway.