Les “Coach” Richter Named to NFL Hall of Fame
Motorsports icon instrumental in development of Auto Club Speedway
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, CALIF. (Feb. 6, 2011) -- Les “Coach” Richter, who was instrumental in the development of California Speedway (now Auto Club Speedway), overseeing the project for Roger Penske from the demolition of the historic Kaiser Steel Mill, to its transformation into a first-class racing facility, has another “Hall of Fame” to add to his honors.
Saturday, the NFL Selection Committee named Richter, who passed away last June, to the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. Richter previously was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as well as the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Richter, a native of Fresno, Calif., was an All-American linebacker and guard at the University of California Berkeley and played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1954 to 1962 after being acquired from the Dallas Texans for 11 players. The defensive star was picked for the Pro Bowl eight times and was an Associated Press first team All-Pro in 1956.
Richter recently served as vice-president of special projects for International Speedway Corporation, the parent company of Auto Club Speedway. The current trophy for the Auto Club 400 is named the “Richter Trophy” as a lasting tribute to his contributions to Auto Club Speedway and the world of motorsports.
“ ‘Coach’ stood above his peers with qualities we should all emulate and appreciate. Whether in the garage area at a racetrack, or on the field during a football game, Les Richter’s strong leadership and tremendous vision set the precedent for success,” said Speedway President Gillian Zucker. “I am proud of what he has done for our sport and Auto Club Speedway and I congratulate his legacy, his family and the NFL Selection Committee on his well-deserved induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.”
Richter joined the NASCAR family in 1983 after a successful second career as president and general manager of Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. Richter soon evolved into one of the most important advisors to then-NASCAR Chairman/CEO Bill France Jr. as NASCAR’s popularity expanded. Richter was named NASCAR's Executive Vice President of Competition in 1986 and the Senior Vice President of Operations in 1992.
Added International Speedway President John Saunders, “In the community of sport, there are individuals that possess qualities such as dedication, leadership and vision that stand the test of time. Les “Coach” Richter possessed those qualities that have always been an essential part of the fabric of motorsports and now will be remembered for years to come by those in the NFL family as well. We applaud the NFL’s Selection Committee for including “Coach” as part of its most recent NFL Hall of Fame Class.”
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