Saturday, August 24, 2019

Northern California Late Model Champ Ford Passes

By Matthew J. Sullivan

Eureka, CA (August 24, 2019) – Howard Ford of Crescent City, California passed this past week at the age of 62 due to a heart attack. Ford was a regular late model competitor in the northwest region for over 20 years and was one of the most successful drivers in Northern California during that time.

Ford began racing at Redwood Acres Raceway in 1990 in the street stock division and continued racing locally the next season when the sportsman division was formed. By 1997, Ford became a regular in the Nor-Cal Best In The West late model touring series. The next season, Ford won the Nor-Cal championship thanks in part to late season wins at Shasta Speedway in Anderson, CA and Silver State Raceway in Carson City, NV. In 1999, Ford earned what was perhaps the biggest win of his career when he took the victory in the Win River 150 at Shasta. Ford led 133 laps that day and held off a furious late-race charge from Randy Olson.

Between 2000 through 2004, Ford raced in NASCAR’s Northwest and Southwest touring series. Ford made 13 starts in the Northwest Tour earning 1 top five and 5 top 10s with his best finish being a fifth place at South Sound Speedway in May of 2000. Ford made two starts in the Southwest Tour, both coming at Sonoma Raceway. Ford finished eighth in the 2004 event.

The majority of Ford’s racing success came in the North State Challenge Series where he raced against the likes of Derek Thorn, Mike Doss, David Miller and other top late model racers from the region. From the time the series debuted in 1999 as the Tri-State Challenge Series to its end in 2008 as the NSCS, Ford started 56 races and won 10 events while scoring 39 top 5s and 50 top 10s, all records in the history of the series. Ford won back-to-back NSCS championships in 2007 and 2008 while also claiming a win in Redwood Acres Raceway’s Fall Spectacular in 2007.

Ford’s career slowed following the 2008 season as he made fewer starts. In 2011, Ford won the RAR Fall Spectacular double header that was held that season. Between 2010 through 2013, Ford started six events in the Airport Auto Brokers Late Model Series taking three top fives and four top 10s with a best finish of second at RAR on two occasions. Ford’s last race occurred at Shasta Speedway in October of 2013 when he finished eighth.

Ford is survived by his wife Dee and his children daughter Vanessa and son Brandon who also was part of his pit crew.