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Galen Fox (John Mahoney photo)

USAC Hall Of Famer Galen Fox, 84

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Galen Fox, a champion car owner, mechanic, engine builder and crew chief in the USAC ranks for more than half a century and a member of both the National Sprint Car and USAC Halls of Fame, died on April 29. He was 84 years old.

Fox, who hailed from Bloomington, Ind., is one of the few who have claimed entrant titles in both the USAC National Sprint Car (1980) and USAC Silver Crown series (1997), totaling 49 feature wins between the two divisions in a long-ranging career that spanned from the late 1960s all the way up through the 2019 season.

After gaining early success as a stock car driver on the local Indiana soil, Fox turned his attention to the wrenches as a engine builder and mechanic, teaming up with fellow National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Bob Kinser in the late 1960s as the top dogs of the South Central Indiana Racing Ass’n circuit.  

Fox then went to work for famed car builder and fellow Sprint Car HoF inductee Grant King, plying his mechanical mastery on the Indianapolis 500 efforts of driver Art Pollard while also putting together a sprint car for young upstart Sheldon Kinser.

In fact, Fox forged his two most successful racing pairings with two of the most successful USAC drivers of their era two decades apart – Sheldon Kinser in the 1970s and Dave Darland in the 1990s.  However, it was Fox’s association with New York businessman Dick Hammond that set the tone for a historic run of success.

Utilizing the “Genesee Beer Wagon” No. 56, Sheldon Kinser picked up the team’s first USAC National Sprint Car victory in 1975 at Schererville, Indiana’s Illiana Motor Speedway.  Kinser carried onward and topped the field in the 1977 USAC National Sprint Car title race for Fox and Hammond’s Gohr Distributing team.  In 1980, Gohr captured its lone USAC National Sprint Car entrant title thanks to a combined five victories from Kinser and Tom Bigelow.

The Gohr team scored 30 career USAC National Sprint Car wins between 1975 and 1991, tallied by the talents of Sheldon Kinser (16 wins), Tom Bigelow (6), Kenny Jacobs (3), Danny Smith (3) and Rick Hood (2).

In the meantime, the team was a stalwart on the Indy Car trail, finishing a best of 5th at the 1987 Indianapolis 500 with driver Gary Bettenhausen.  The Gohr team made six starts in the May classic between 1982-90 with drivers Steve Chassey, Bettenhausen, Billy Vukovich III, Tero Palmroth and Rocky Moran.  Vukovich even notched Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors for his efforts with Gohr in 1988.

At the dawn of the decade of the 1990s, Fox and Hammond built Foxco Engineering to supply custom engine work to sprint car and USAC Silver Crown teams. Under the Foxco banner, and along with sons Brad and Steve, the team hired Dave Darland to drive their champ car in 1995, a move that paid dividends as Darland, a local Indiana short track star at the time, instantly elevated to national superstardom.

Sheldon Kinser (left) joined by Bob Kinser (center) and Galen Fox in 1986. (John Mahoney photo)

Together, Darland and Fox paired up to win the 1997 USAC driving and entrant titles while scoring 14 victories along the way between 1995-2009. Darland posted the team’s third, fourth and fifth Hoosier Hundred victories at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in 1995, 1996 and 2004.

Fox was the owner of 19 victories in the USAC Silver Crown division, employing Steve Chassey and Kenny Jacobs who earned Gohr its first two series triumphs, both of which came in the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in 1984 and 1987, respectively.  

Chuck Gurney scored for the team in early 1988 on the Indy Mile once more during the Hulman Hundred.

Gurney collected the first two for Foxco in 1994 on each of the Illinois dirt miles in Springfield and Du Quoin. But it was Darland who truly took the sport by storm in 1995, sweeping both victories at the Indy Mile. Together, Darland and Fox won four at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, four at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, three at Springfield, two at Sacramento’s Cal Expo State Fairgrounds and once at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track.

Fox’s final USAC Silver Crown entry came in 2019 at Eldora with Jason McDougal at the wheel where the team started on the outside of the front row during the running of the 4-Crown Nationals.

Fox’s legacy continues to live on to this day with sons Brad and Steve Fox, who’ve collected a combined 19 USAC National Sprint Car victories as team owners, two of which came with Brad behind the wheel. 

Galen’s grandson, Brayden Fox, carries on the tradition into 2023 as a driver on the tough and rugged sprint car circuit in the Hoosier state.