CHICO, Calif. – John Padjen, a veteran West Coast race track promoter who was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2008, died Wednesday. He was 87 years old.
Padjen is best known for his time as promoter at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif. He was named the 2006 National Auto Racing Promoter of the Year and was recognized with the 2007 Ted Johnson Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Sport.
Padjen got his start in racing in 1962, when he worked as a pit steward at Auburn Speedway. In 1973, Padjen was approached by Gene Welch to join him as a partner to promote West Capitol Raceway. Padjen accepted, leading to a career that saw him become among the most successful promoters on the West Coast.
By 1978 West Capitol Raceway was set to close, so Padjen shifted his focus to promoting Silver Dollar Speedway. By 1982 he added Placerville (Calif.) Speedway to his promotional duties.
In addition to his success at Placerville Speedway and Silver Dollar Speedway, Padjen had his hand in a number of other motorsports endeavorers. He was involved in the resurrection of the Silver Crown 100 at the Cal Expo mile in the mid 1990s as well as the promotion of the Golden State Challenge Sprint Car Series and Civil War Sprint Car Series.
In addition to his work in the racing industry, Padjen spent 42 years working for Southern Pacific Railroad. He retired from that position in 1994.
Details about a celebration of life will be announced in the coming weeks.