Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Motorsports Standouts Honored At 40th Los Angeles Sportswalk Of Fame

Newly re-designated / renamed Los Angles Sportswalk Of Fame, in its 40th year, honors 11 athletes from several disciplines and special levels of accomplishment from Hall Of Fame caliber to Olympic Gold Medal quality - from High School "Prep" to the highest levels in professional ranks of competition.  All hail to the inductees. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

Motorsports Standouts Honored At 40th Los Angeles Sportswalk Of Fame

Of the eleven inductees to the 40th edition of the Los Angeles Sportswalk Of Fame, three athletes of incredible accomplishment and dedication were from the annals of motorsports competition.

Pre-event orientation where Johnny Campbell (left- red shirt), Christopher Forsberg (center right), and Robbie Gordon (center right, back to camera) are given introduction performance demonstration rules and instruction by a member of the Port Of Los Angeles Police Department (left, sunglasses) at the Los Angeles Sportswalk Of Fame. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

The 2018 motorsports inductees include multiple sport series, event competitor, and series promoter Robbie Gordon, Motorcycle off road and Baja 1000 11-time champion Johnny Campbell, and original American Formula Drift driver and champion Christopher Forsberg.

The San Pedro Sportswalk Of Fame has been renamed the Los Angeles Sportswalk Of Fame this year compatible with a larger overall plan to bring attention to the redevelopment of the Los Angeles harbor community which includes the USS Iowa Museum and a newly re-envisioned Ports O' Call Village restaurant and retail center.

Robbie Gordon (with son Max, left) helps to push back his custom 2015 custom Dakar Rally off-road competition vehicle, the Gordini, a shorter version of the Hummer H3, is backed into position at the Los Angeles Sportwalk Of Fame induction event. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

This is the first year this many inductees from Motorsports have graced the annual ceremony. Previous inductees over the previous 39 years show only five names, so to be able to add three more to the Los Angeles Sportswalk Of Fame is a great honor.

Football Inductee, Lynn Swann (right) shares a moment with sportscaster, Ed Arnold (center right) while standing in front of the Formula Drft Nissan 370Z of Christopher Forsberg. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

The balance of the class of 2018 inductees included Lynn Swann (Football - Hall Of Fame), Mike Scioscia (Baseball), Frank Manumaleuna (Football), Don Horn (Football), Tony Dobra (Prep Softball), Ralph DeQuebec (Paralympic Hockey Gold Medalist), Ray Deeter (Posthumous Prep Multi-Athlete), & Joe Bird (Water Polo, Prep Swimming, LA County Lifeguard).


Robbie Gordon, with son Max, show the commemorative plaque of the Los Angeles Sportwalk Of Fame. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

Robby Gordon has made legendary contributions to the field of motorsports, and he has truly earned his place on the Los Angeles Sportswalk of Fame. One of the most talented and diverse drivers in racing today, Gordon has delighted race fans for years, at the Long Beach Grand Prix, in NASCAR, IndyCar and Off-Road.

Gordon, the son of off-road racer, “Baja Bob” Gordon, got his start in off-road racing and won five consecutive SCORE championships from 1986 to 1990, a sixth championship in 1996, and a seventh in 2009.  The Southern California native has raced and won in Indy Cars, NASCAR, sports cars and off-road racecars. He has victories in the Trans-Am Series and the Formula Off-Road Series, the Inaugural Stadium Super Truck Championship, the Baja 1000 three times and the Baja 500 four times.

In June of 2012, Gordon announced that he was founding a stadium truck racing series, which he would own. The Stadium Super Trucks Series launched in 2013 and Gordon, an owner-driver, won the inaugural season championship. The series has since expanded worldwide and included races in Great Britain and Australia.

Christopher Forsberg is one of the most successful drivers in the relatively new motor sport of drifting, a technique where the driver intentionally oversteers to lose traction in the rear wheels while still maintaining control.  “It’s been a crazy ride,” said Forsberg during the induction ceremony. “I was just someone who had a dream and chased it.” Here he relaxes before the ceremony with a display Evel Knievel motorcycle, an animated Robbie Gordon, and the USS Iowa behind him. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

Christopher Forsberg is an American self-taught, drifting driver from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He is the most successful driver in the sport’s history, having won 3 championships and 57 podium finishes.

He was 21 when Formula Drift announced they were coming to America, so he packed up his RX-7 and towed it 3,000 miles to California. Competing with drivers from around the world, Forsberg became the Formula DRIFT Champion in 2009, as well as a Triple Crown Winner. He reigned supreme in 2014 as he again won the coveted FORMULA DRIFT Championship but this time with a record breaking 5 podiums. Forsberg holds the ALL-TIME podium record in Formula Drift.

In 2016, while competing in Okayama, Japan, Forsberg piloted his V8-powered Nissan 370Z to again be crowned the Formula Drift Champion, which made him the most successful driver in the history of the sport. Now, sponsored by: NOS Energy Drink, NISSAN Motors & Hankook Tires and managed by Agajanian Motorsports Management, Forsberg operates and manages his own team, which proved successful after winning Round Two of the 2018 season in Orlando.

Offroad motorcycle competitor Johnny Campbell stands for official presentation photograph with District 4 representative on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Janice Hahn & Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

There is no motorcycle rider with more success than San Clemente native Johnny Campbell. This 11-Time “Baja 1000” Champion is truly one of the Kings of the Desert. Campbell’s success at the Baja 1000, where riders navigate their way across 1,000 miles of rugged Mexican terrain, is unparalleled. Just racing in the Baja 1000 is crazy enough, but to win eleven times at insane speeds on a motorcycle is beyond explainable and is a feat many in the sport consider to be untouchable.

There are two sides to him. There is the “11-time Baja 1000 Titleholder,” Johnny Campbell, who is depicted in the films “Dust to Glory” and his biography “True Champion.” And there is the deeply spiritual and private Campbell -- a story rarely told to the media. At age 16, Johnny suddenly lost his father and best friend, John Sr., while he was racing in Riverside, CA. Campbell decided to be a champion for his late father and stopped at nothing short of letting any obstacle stand in the way of his goal.

It is a goal he achieved. Campbell is truly a living Baja Legend.

2018 Los Angeles Sportswalk Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place Monday at the USS Iowa in the Port Of Los Angles in San Pedro, California October 8th, 2018. Inductees included Robby Gordon, Mike Scioscia,Frank Manumaleuna, Lynn Swann, Tony Dobra, Johnny Campbell, Joe Bird, Chris Forsberg, Don Horn and Ralph DeQuebec. Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino and Los Angeles Supervisor Janice Hahn took part in the ceremony. Image Credit: Chuck Bennett, Daily Breeze (2018)

The initial San Pedro Sportswalk opened October 5, 1978 in a ceremony that also marked the revitalization of San Pedro’s Downtown Commercial District. The Sportswalk was initially sponsored by the Trani Family of San Pedro, whose Restaurant was on 6th Street near the Waterfront and was a gathering place for famous athletes from around the world.

The Sportswalk to the Waterfront Foundation represents community recognition of local and regionally produced individuals who have achieved exceptional and outstanding collegiate, Olympic and professional athletic success.

Past inductees from the discipline of motorsports over the previous 39 years:

One of America’s most respected motor racing personalities, J.C. Agajanian was universally acknowledged as the “dean” of Indianapolis Motor Car owners. 

He set an all-time record with 36 consecutive entries in the Indy 500 race and twice he stood in the victory lane. In 1971, Agajanian was honored at the White House as America’s premier race car owner and motor sports promoter. Ascot Park, where “Aggie” served as president was referred to as the busiest race track in America. Agajanian passed away in 1984.

Sons of one of auto racing’s greatest car owners and promoters, J.C. Agajanian, and as successive owners and operators of Ascot Park, the storied raceway in Gardena, CA, which launched the career of Evel Knievel, the Agajanian brothers produced over 160 events a year and boasted crowds of over a half a million loyal fans annually. 

In 2016, the boys succeeded in stacking up a win at the Indianapolis 500 with a dramatic finish, as their rookie American driver, Alexander Rossi, brought the famed #98 IndyCar across the finish line first. This thrilling win gave the Agajanian family four of the most coveted victories in motorsports, the 1952, 1963, 2011 and 2016 Indy 500s. 

To this day, three winning #98 racecars are displayed in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, while the fourth car, the Dallara DW12 chassis Rossi drove to victory at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, sold for $1,127,500 at the 2018 Mecum Auctions event held in Monterey during the week of the Concours de Elegance of Pebble Beach.

Gary Gabelich held the world land speed record of 622.407 mph over the measured mile in the rocket-powered Blue Flame from 1970 to 1983. He was the 34th man to hold the record since 1898. He completed more runs over 600 mph (six) and more runs over 500 mph (16) than anyone else. 

A native of the harbor area, Gabelich attended school at Mary Star of the Sea in San Pedro. He became involved with racing at age 17 and won numerous racing events. Gabelich was killed in an accident in 1984. Gabelich is additionally honored with a brass medallion in the sidewalk in front of the Long Beach Convention Center at the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame.

Born in Texarkana, Arkansas, and raised in Torrance, California, Parnelli Jones is one of the most famous names in auto racing, having won nearly every major auto event in the United States. 

In 1962 and 1963, Jones won the pole position at the Indianapolis 500, and in the latter year was the first driver ever to exceed 150 mph, setting a mark of 151.153 mph for his lap qualifying run. He went on to win the race. Away from the track, Jones is a highly successful Firestone Tire dealer. Also honored locally at the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame.

The most famous name in unlimited hydroplane racing, Bill Muncey was killed October 18, 1981 in an accident during the final heat of the World Championships in Acapulco. 

A resident of La Mesa, California, he won more unlimited hydroplane races than any other driver. Muncey amassed 61 victories, including a record eight Gold Cups and seven national titles. He was a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.

The San Pedro Sportswalk mission and purpose was organized to:
** Promote and vitalize sports through education in the Los Angeles Community.
** Provide a scholarship program for youth of the South Bay Area Community.
** Continuation and expansion of the Sportswalk concept thrughout the Waterfront Area.

With this 2018 start of the Los Angeles Sportswalk of Fame, the recognition event has expanded to include Local, Regional, National Athletes along with Coaches (Trani Award), and Veteran Services Members (Tillman Award), and Special Individuals Sports (Sports Humanitarian Award).

After 40 years, this recognition event is sure to grow in stature with the geographical expansion of candidates of inductees and become the additional tourist draw to the revitalized, rich, and diverse waterfront community of San Pedro ...

... or as it has always been locally, and affectionately, known as ...

... "PEA - DROW" - Go Pirates!

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: San Pedro, Los Angeles Sportswalk Of Fame, USS IOWA, Robby Gordon, Christopher Forsberg, Johnny Campbell, Mike Scioscia, Lynn Swan, Don Horn, Frank Manumaleuna, Joe Bird, Ralph DeQuebec, Tony Dobra, Petros Papadakis, The EDJE 

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