Les Richter: 1930-2010

Former Los Angeles Ram's star Les Richter passed away on Friday, June 11, 2010. Richter became a key player after his football career in auto racing on the West Coast. He was 79 at the time of his death. His National Football League career...

Former Los Angeles Ram's star Les Richter passed away on Friday, June 11, 2010. Richter became a key player after his football career in auto racing on the West Coast. He was 79 at the time of his death.

His National Football League career speaks for itself on the his skills but also on his giving more than 100% and the way he handled himself on and off the field. To this day, the trade by the Rams for him holds the record of all trades; they gave up 11 players to have him wear blue and gold uniform in 1954. Richter had three positions as a star player on the field: Linebacker, guard and kicker.

Nine years later, Richter retired and turned his full attention to motor sports at Riverside International Raceway. When Richter took the reins of president at Riverside, he was not just a figurehead but one who took an active role in bringing events to the former circuit. In 1960, they hosted the United States Grand Prix, their first and only Formula One event. Stirling Moss scored the only grand prix victory at RIR.

The National Hot Rod Association held events at the venue as did the Sports Car Club of America, International Motor Sports Association, American Motorcycle Association and even SCORE's off-road series ran at RIR.

Richter, on advice from Dan Gurney, had Indy cars come to race, under at that time the USAC banner. When the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing decided to race at the road course venue and the history between the France family and Richter was kicking into high gear.

Richter left RIR in the hands of Fritz Duda in 1983 and joined NASCAR. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France commented: "Les Richter will be missed by the entire NASCAR community and always remembered for all he did for the sport on all levels, especially as Vice President of Competition, his dedication to NASCAR's short track racing program and promoting the sport on the west coast."

Richter recently served as vice-president of special projects for International Speedway Corporation, the parent company of Auto Club Speedway. Prior to his position at the Fontana, California speedway, Richter worked hand-in-hand with Roger Penske, the orignal owner who undertook to build the oval with an infield road course.

"Les Richter was a tremendous competitor, a great man and a good friend. On the football field, he was a terrific athlete and leader, and after his playing career he became an innovative motorsports executive," said Penske. "Les played a key role in the development of NASCAR and he was the driving force behind the success of Riverside Raceway and California Speedway. The Coach will be missed and we are thankful for the significant contributions he made to our sport."

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About this article
Series NASCAR , General
Drivers Dan Gurney , Stirling Moss , Roger Penske
Article type Obituary