Gary Sokola dead at 59

Gary Sokola, whose 10-year tenure as USAC's Assistant Director of Competition and Sprint Car Series Supervisor served to expand USAC's Sprint Car operations, passed away yesterday in a Wichita, Kansas hospital at age 59. Complications from...

Gary Sokola, whose 10-year tenure as USAC's Assistant Director of Competition and Sprint Car Series Supervisor served to expand USAC's Sprint Car operations, passed away yesterday in a Wichita, Kansas hospital at age 59. Complications from gall bladder problems were given as the cause of death. Following an abbreviated 14-race Sprint Car campaign in 1987, USAC Competition Director Roger McCluskey secured the services of Sokola, who became a USAC employee on December 1 of that year. He continued in his USAC position until 1997 when he moved to Dodge City, Kansas to oversee the construction of one of America's newest state-of-the-art short-track racing facilities - Dodge City Raceway Park. As that track's race organizer, he invited the USAC Western Sprint Car Series to compete as part of this year's inaugural racing season at the 3/8-mile paved oval. A Sprint car owner for six years in California for driver Lee Robison, Gary was born in Livonia, Mich. in 1941 and growing up in the midwest, quickly became an avid racing fan. In 1960 he moved to the west coast after a two-year hitch in the U.S. Navy. In 1977 he replaced the late Don Peabody as the Director of Racing and Director of Marketing for the California Racing Association (CRA) and served in that capacity until his move to USAC. A primary mover in the formation of USAC's extremely-competitive Western Midget Car Series in the early-1980's, Gary also was instrumental in the return of pavement USAC Sprint car racing in 1988 after a six-year hiatus. He survived by parents Pete and Marie Sokola of Grass Valley, Calif., son Mark of Costa Mesa, Calif., daughter Laurie of Laguna Beach, Calif. and granddaughter Kandace. USAC extends its deepest condolences to the entire Sokola family. Services are still pending.

--USAC--

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