Racing At 90? Hershel McGriff Did!



How old is Hershel McGriff? When he celebrates a birthday, the candles cost more than the cake! Or as Chris Myers once said of aging reporter Dick Berggren, “he’s so old, he knew the Dead Sea when it was just getting sick.”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I’m just amazed. I’m not a pup myself, but it will take me 36 years to get to where he is now. And Hershel McGriff drove a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race in Tuscon. If I’m lucky (I think), I’ll be living at 90. I can’t imagine racing at that age.

Ah, the haters. They throw a fit about someone who’s reflexes and eyesight have aged being out there on the track. Sure, Hershel McGriff finished six laps down and dead last in 18th. So what? Did anyone get hurt? No. Did McGriff deny someone else the opportunity? Come on! Owner Bill McAnally offered him the job. What was he supposed to do, refuse it? If he were a rolling caution flag, they would have gotten him off the track. Take a chill pill! It’s not like he’s going to become a series regular now. McGriff told the media he has other things to get down.

Hershel McGriff is a living exhibit of NASCAR history. He got into racing after returning home from World War II, and at the behest of Big Bill France, raced fulltime in 1954. He won four races that year and scored 17 top ten finishes in 24 races. Rather than race for the original “super team” owner Carl Kiekhaefer, he returned to his native Oregon and got back into the timber business.

Over the years, he’s made a few returns and has done pretty well in regional racing series. During his prime, racing really wasn’t that lucrative and it was pretty dangerous. Nonetheless, Hershel McGriff managed a Winston Series West championship at age 60 in 1986. Three years later he won a race in the AutoZone West Series.

Some people just age better than others. Oh, did you hear that McGriff also played the National Anthem on his trombone? His son and his granddaughter also raced that day. How cool is that? So what if he’s old his blood type has been cancelled?

Hershel McGriff is an amazing man. Here’s hoping he gets a chance to check off all the items on his bucket list.