In Memoriam-Gary Wright

Gary Wright

By Bill Gellatly

Checkered Flag - Gary Wright - 1938-2003

One of our racers from the Sixties, Gary Wright, died Wednesday, March 19, 2003 of complications of leukemia. He had lived in St. Johns, US Virgin Islands since 1975 where he had opened a sail boat chartering and tour business. He is survived by his wife Denise and two children, June and Jim. A small memorial service was held at Mt. Hood, where Gary was also a member of the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol. He was born on July 26,1938, was raised in Parkrose, graduating from Parkrose High School in 1956. After a stint in the U.S. Army, he joined Tektronix as a technical writer from 1961 to 1969.

Gary was a member of Oregon Motorsports International, a sports car club based in Beaverton in the 1960's and held both regional and national SCCA licenses. Many tracks have come and gone, but Newport Airport and OIR (Oregon International Raceways, south of Eugene) were a couple of the Oregon Region venues of that period. Shelton and Pacific Raceways (yes, that was the original name) were a part of Northwest Region's territory. Every year, a few would tow over to Goldendale WA to run the Maryhill Hillclimb.

I don't recall Gary racing any car that was not a Porsche. He raced a 356 Cabriolet, a 911S, one of two privateer 904's (along with Lew Florence of Yakima, whose 904 was painted an intense yellow) and later a 906 and 908. Sponsors included Riviera Motors, Sunset Porsche, Gateway Porsche and after he had moved to California, Vasek-Polak.

His early Conference racing include races at Westwood (Sports Car Club of BC), Seattle (puget Sound Sports Car Club) and Portland (Cascade had the early exclusive use of PIR). Gary enjoyed club racing, enduros and later entered a number of Trans-Am races in that series' early years 1967 and 1968. Larry and Mike Eyerly, Chuck Clemans and Paul Woodruff,were a few of his fellow Porsche pilots. He was often on track with Gary Blodgett (TR3 and Datsun 1600), Todd Webb and Monte Shelton (Austin-Healey 3000) and Bob Rinde and Bill Pendleton (both in TR4's). These were just a few of his contemporaries. I.m sure some of you will recall some others.

Gary enjoyed competition at any speed. Whether entering Laguna Seca's corkscrew wheel-to-wheel with Horst Kwech's Alfa 2.5 GTA, or enjoying a light breeze to make a turn on the Willamette river at 3 knots, it was the thrill of the slightest advantage that provided months, if not years, of enjoyable story telling. Gary could re-live a moment and bring up visuals of the gauges, the racing line, everything from a brush of the fender in traffic, to fading brakes while holding off a stalwart competitor.

I enjoyed his ability to quickly summarize an event, setting the stage, the building a story to the peak of its excitement, and the resolution of a situation, all between sips of beer. These are but a few of my images of Gary, and I'm hoping this will trigger some of yours, but I'm sure we all wish his friends and family well at this time. Farewell, Gary.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 July 2008 )