It’s often said that people come to motorsports for the cars, but they stay because of the people. If you have been involved in motorsports at Portland International Raceway at any time in the last 48 years, chances are good you have encountered Gary Bockman. And if you ever got to know Gary at all, he’s the first person you hope to see every time you come to the track.
Gary became part of the Portland motorsports scene in the early 1970s. He says he wandered through the front gate at PIR during a Cascade Sports Car Club track day. He stuck around and became one of the most successful racing drivers the city has produced. He has also been a leading advocate for Portland’s racing community.
“This track is my home,” Gary says. That might sound like an exaggeration, but it’s true. Gary not only spends a lot of time at Portland’s fastest city park, he has put in countless hours volunteering to improve the PIR facility. Gary has done everything from putting in flower beds to refurbishing the bridge that crosses the track on the front straight.
When PIR’s future was questioned by Mayor Tom Potter in 2005, Gary took the lead in forming the racing community’s response. He founded the Friends of PIR, a non-profit organization created to benefit the facility. Gary brought together civic and business leaders, along with thousands of Portlanders, to prove that support for the track’s mission runs deep in the community. PIR not only survived the controversy, the track has thrived because of Gary Bockman’s efforts.
Gary’s racing career is distinguished and enviable. Together with his friend Chuck Shafer, Gary set a world speed record in 2000 at the Silver State Classic. On a closed-off stretch of Nevada highway, Gary and Chuck took their car up to 207.780 MPH. At the time, that was the highest speed ever achieved on a public highway. Gary was also a versatile driver, and in 2008 he drove his team to a third-place finish in the Alcan 5000 Winter Rally, driving hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle and onto the ice of the Arctic Ocean in the dead of winter.
Gary’s amateur and professional racing resumé includes many championships with both the Sports Car Club of America and his beloved Cascade Sports Car Club. In 1996, Gary finished in second place at the prestigious SCCA national championship Runoffs, and he almost won the same race in 2016. Gary served Cascade as club President numerous times, and also served as the club’s Race Director.
Bringing new drivers into auto racing is a key part of Gary’s contribution. Over nearly five decades, Gary has trained hundreds of new racing drivers and given complete novices their first turn on the track. As a teacher, Gary emphasizes car control. “When you’re driving a race car at speed,” he says, “you gain the ability to see into your future, and you get to control what that future’s going to be.” Gary always takes the time needed to give a student driver a successful experience. If you count the number of racing drivers Gary has coached and instructed over the years, you’ll find that most Northwest racers owe some measure of their success to his teaching.
If you know Gary, you know he enjoys winning races, and when he wins you want to be near him to share his exuberant joy. But he is not a man to dwell on past victories for very long. With Gary, winning is a moment to celebrate with his friends before moving on to the next challenge. Passion, dedication, and community have always been Gary’s hallmarks.
Marshall Atherton passed away on December 16, 2019. He was 85 years old.
Marshall was a United States Marine who served in the Korean war, and a longtime racer. He raced in the first Rose Cup race in 1961 and was an active driver into the 21st century. He was also the founder of 99West trailers in Newberg, California.
Mary Thompson was the Oregon Region Board Secretary for decades. As the longest-serving member of the region leadership, Mary was the institutional memory of the club, and generations of Regional Executives and program leaders valued her wise counsel. At the track, Mary was known for her friendly and efficient work in the Rose Cup Room, registration, and driver services.
More than that, Mary always had a smile and a warm hug for her many friends. She was not shy about telling you how she felt about you, and seeing her was always a pleasure. Outside of the track, Mary was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother to her family. She passed away on December 25, 2019.
Legendary Oregon Region racer Monte Shelton has passed away at age 85. His professional racing career included appearances in the US Road Racing Championship in 1965, 1967, and 1968. He raced regularly in Can-Am from its inception in 1966 through 1974. Shelton also raced in the SCCA Pro Racing Formula 5000 series.
But it was in the Trans-Am Series that Shelton achieved his greatest professional racing success. In over 40 starts between 1976 and 1987, Monte racked up five victories, two pole positions, and 14 podium finishes.
On the amateur side, Shelton won the Portland, Oregon Rose Cup race a record seven times, along with nine second-place finishes. He raced in the very first Rose Cup race in 1961, and his seven victories were spread over five decades.
Shelton entered the SCCA National Championship Runoffs four times, beginning in 1968 at Riverside International Raceway. His best finish came in 1975 with a second place in A Sports Racing driving a McLaren 8F, which he also raced in Can-Am.
Outside of SCCA, Monte competed 10 times in the 24 Hours of Daytona including a 3rd place finish in 1979. He also competed several times in the 12 Hours of Sebring, and in the IMSA Camel GT series.
Shelton was a life member of SCCA, and was one of the six founding members of Oregon Region, SCCA in 1962. In recent years, he raced a Volkswagen Rabbit at the regional level, and held a current competition license this year. “I have held an SCCA competition license for 60 consecutive years, and never had a waiver,” he said a few weeks ago. His final race was in March of this year.
When he wasn’t racing, Shelton was Portland’s premier British car dealer, selling everything from MG to Rolls-Royce over the years. In retirement he maintained a small business dealing in specialty vintage sports cars, known as “Monte’s Motors” after his first-ever car lot.
Shelton is survived by his wife Sue, daughters Darla Krieske and Jamie Martell, sons Tony and Neil Shelton, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Longtime Oregon Region steward Steve Archer passed away in May. I knew Steve for 25 years. I was not yet 30 when I started training to be a steward, and Steve was a mentor to me as I raced and learned the challenges of managing an SCCA race weekend.
The thing that always struck me about Steve, and what made him such a great person to work with, was his calm demeanor and
I never saw Steve lose his temper, and I’m not sure I ever heard him raise his voice. Far more often, he’d be smiling and bringing people together. He always had a big hug for me when I’d see him at the track - and I always knew Steve had my back.
One occasion I will always remember happened when I had a small tangle with a close friend on track. We both arrived in post-race impound with dented cars. Steve was on duty and I could see him walking our way. I took off my helmet and said “This was my fault.” Then my friend said it had been his fault. Steve broke into a big grin and just laughed. If there wasn’t a problem, he wasn’t going to create one.
In my case, Steve showed me how to keep cool when things got rough, and to remember that we’re all friends at the track - or at least we should be.
It’s said - often in memorials like this, that people come to SCCA for racing, but they stay for the people. That’s certainly true with Steve Archer - if you knew him, he was a reason to keep coming back to Oregon Region events. I am lucky to be able to say Steve Archer was my friend.
Some of you will remember the great races Ed and I had when he was driving his GT4 Datsun 510, and we had the EP Volvo. That 510 was previously owned by Dave Carkoff (probably not spelled right), and I think it was the last 510 to win the GT4 national championship. Those of you who didn’t know him through racing may remember when he and Lynn allowed me to bring their Ferrari 250 PF Coupe to one of our backyard cars and friends gatherings.
Ed and Lynn both worked for NOAA, and Ed was a well-respected marine biologist, with a specialty in estuarine sedimentation. They loved Hawaii, and to our mutual surprise we once ran into them at the hotel we often stayed at in Kona. It turned out that they had gone to that same place for many years, and so several times after that we coordinated our trips. It was amazing to go into tide pools, or to snorkel over coral reefs with Ed… just like having your own private naturalist guide.
He will be missed.
Larry Curtis Bergman, 70, died on Friday, January 6, 2017 near his Sellwood home.
Larry was born November 14, 1946 in Eugene, Oregon to his parents Herman and Freda. He grew up in Canby, Oregon in a home built by his father, where he lived with his parents and his younger brother Bruce. Growing up, Larry frequented the Canby Southern Pacific train station, where he discovered his love of trains and machinery.
He was “employed” at an early age gluing labels on freight for Dad in the depot. Cub Scouts and Zoar Lutheran Church activities framed his early years. When he graduated from Canby Union High School in 1964, Larry was active in band and basketball and was an Eagle Scout. In 1968, he graduated with a BS in Engineering from Oregon State University, where he also earned his private pilot’s license.
Quickly, he was then drafted into the Army and eventually sent to Vietnam as an E-6 Airborne Ranger. After only a few months, he was dropped from a helicopter into a pit of poisoned punji sticks, one of which punctured his lower leg. He came home via combat hospitals in Vietnam, Japan, and Tacoma, completing his military service as a mountaineering instructor at West Point.
After his service, Larry found employment starting up steel mills in Morocco and Argentina. In 1975 he returned to Oregon where he joined forces with his brother Bruce to start Bergman Photographic Services, which later became GeoTerra, Inc. The first airplane of many to serve the Bergman brothers was a 1939 Piper Cub. Larry’s piloting career spanned 50 full years with no accidents, accumulating 14,267.9 logged hours in the air.He helped launch many pilots into airline careers.
Larry and Bruce were avid gear heads and spent ten years racing classic cars at Portland International Raceway. He also loved boats, from canoes and kayaks to his restored 1962 Tollycraft, Dora Mae. Alongside his beloved partner Elizabeth Nugent, he enjoyed good food and beer, music, and gatherings with friends. Larry and Elizabeth loved spending weekends and holidays in their newly purchased home on Puget Island, which was to become their retirement haven. Larry is survived by his brother Bruce, sister-in-law Barbara, two nephews Matt and Jeff, along with their wives Rosie and Kim and growing families.
Larry left us too soon, and we will all miss him.