Finish line comes for racing icon
By Scott Linesburgh
Record Staff Writer
April 19, 2009 6:00 AM
Jack McCoy has been described as a friend, an author and an auto racing pioneer.
When he was in a race car on the track, the most frequently used word was "winner."
McCoy, who is considered one of the West Coast's most influential and successful drivers, died Tuesday in Modesto. He was 72.
A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday at Franklin and Downs, McHenry Chapel, 1150 McHenry Ave., in Modesto.
McCoy, who lived in Modesto, won three consecutive track titles at Stockton 99 (1963-65) and gained most of his fame competing in the NASCAR regional series now known as Camping World Series West. He won a record 54 regional races and the series title in 1966 and '73.
"Jack was one of the best drivers we've had in the West, a legend and a real gentleman," said Ken Clapp, co-owner of Stockton 99 and a former vice president of NASCAR. "There isn't anything he couldn't drive, and drive fast. He was a winner."
Veteran driver Harry Belletto said he was a pioneer at a time when NASCAR racing in California was beginning to grow. Stockton 99 manager Tony Noceti remembers working at McCoy's tire shop in Modesto when he was 17.
"I pestered him for months and finally wore him down," Noceti said. "It was something else to learn about racing from him."
McCoy retired in 1974. He wrote about his career in his book, "Racing's Real McCoy," in 2001 and the next year was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
JACK ELDREDGE MCCOY MAR 29, 1937 - APR 14, 2009 Passionate, adventurous, lively and fearless were hallmarks of the Jack McCoy legacy. A multifaceted jewel of a man, who could be hard as a diamond if that would inspire the best of you or your project, offering wisdom and insight with a kind of precision that could so cut through the extraneous, delivering an astute bottom-line summation of the situation and its solution. Or, like a kind of transformative superhero, could dissolve himself into an enveloping cloud of tenderness that would surround and sustain you as you found your way to your own reward. Known in turns as a man of few words, who when he did speak it was significant and profound, and also as a vociferous pontificator, generously challenging you with passionate opinions on any subject. Jack was known for his sharp mind and quick wit that was never malicious, ever conscious of the potential fruits of the seeds of his sound, logical and always straight forward wisdom, helping many to become the best version of themselves. He honored diversity, was an entrepreneur extraordinaire, could be sophisticated and charming when that best served the situation, or a pun-loving clown inciting mirthful engage- ment in the wonders of life. His grandkids remember him as "an amazing guy that did so many things - so involved in this world". Whether quietly getting things done behind the scenes, or using his well-honed gift of showmanship, his veracity along with his tenderhearted compassionate nature was demonstrated in uncountable ways, benefitting all who encountered him. Known for being generously charitable in a meticulous way, he was a man in whom was the heart of a champion, not only the winner of more races than anyone in the history of NASCAR's West Coast circuit, but a model of courage as he moved through natural anxieties with his eye on the prize, diving into adventure, playing life like a game, competing earnestly and formidably, yet with an ever-present wink reminding us to stay in the game, and definitely monitor our progress by keeping score! An inscription on a recent gift to a family friend sums the philosophy he was ever orienting us towards: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain". As a youth on horseback, Jack was the one who could handle and relate to the horse nobody else could ride - not that it didn't involve a few "near-death" experiences, as those stallion hooves sometimes came down within inches of his skull. - So analogous to the way he would engage danger with care and skill in order to experience the thrill and satisfaction of an edge-pushing adventure. Jack developed strong ties and deep bonds, and was steadfast and loyal to those he loved and the things he valued, with a quiet, deep faith, that was very personal. A favorite antic among many that he enjoyed delighting the young ones with was when he would take out his imitation eyeball, "wash" it in his mouth, and put it back in from whence it came, to the terrified and amazed awe and confusion of his miniature entourage along with their chaperones! A poised and articulate leader, at home and afield. A mentor and hero to many, while being an innovative visionary, his wife Peggy remembers him as a "perfect, loving husband". The fans of this "home team" recognized a union of true soulmates. Jack Is survived by his wife Peggy; his son, Dr. Harry Brown of Modesto; six daughters, Gina Vance of Modesto, Tracee Collins of Kansas, Kathleen Lengel of Ripon, Kim Tofanelli of Sacramento, Cindy Brown of Modesto and Christine Brown of Incline Village, Nev.; sister, Louise Barnick of Modesto; brothers, Dan McCoy of Atascadero and Robert McCoy of Modesto; and 14 grandchildren. A service will be at 1:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, 2009 at Franklin and Downs, McHenry Chapel, 1150 McHenry Avenue, Modesto. Remembrances may be made to the Carole Surd-Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation, 301 Downey Ave., Modesto 95354, or to a favorite charity.www.modbee.com/obituaries
Also From the Modesto Bee:
Jack McCoy of Modesto, winner of more races than anyone in the history of NASCAR's West Coast circuit, died Tuesday at 72.
Mr. McCoy, who also was in the tire business much of his life, died suddenly at a Modesto hospital, his family said.
Friends and racing colleagues remembered him as a skilled stock car driver who would have ranked with national legends had he raced full-time.
"Nobody could drive a short track like Jack McCoy — nobody," said Dick Hagerty of Oakdale. "He was just in a class of his own."
Mr. McCoy, a Dodge driver, won a record 54 races in the 1960s and 1970s in NASCAR's regional series, known at various times as Grand National West, Winston West and Pacific Coast Late Model Series. He finished first in the final standings in 1966 and 1973 and second four times.
Mr. McCoy balanced the racing with his work at McCoy Tire Co. and his home life with his wife, Peggy Joyce McCoy, and seven children.
Mr. McCoy was born March 29, 1937, in Los Angeles and later moved with his family to a ranch near Ceres. His father, John McCoy, opened McCoy Tire on Ninth Street in Modesto in 1950.
Jack McCoy, who attended Turlock High School and Modesto Junior College, went to work in the family business.
He later opened his own tire shop on McHenry Avenue, eventually branching into specially made tires and other supplies for race cars.
Mr. McCoy is survived by his wife; his son, Dr. Harry Brown of Modesto; six daughters, Gina Vance of Modesto, Tracee Collins of Kansas, Kathleen Lengel of Ripon, Kim Tofanelli of Sacramento, Cindy Brown of Modesto and Christine Brown of Incline Village, Nev.; sister, Louise Barnick of Modesto; brothers, Dan McCoy of Atascadero and Robert McCoy of Modesto; and 14 grandchildren.
A service will be at 1:30 p.m. Monday at Franklin and Downs, McHenry Chapel, 1150 McHenry Ave., Modesto.
Remembrances may be made to the Carole Sund-Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation, 301 Downey Ave., Modesto 95354, or to a favorite charity.