Gary Bockman Pole Award Tradition Continues

Beginning in 2022, the pole position award given to the fastest Rose Cup Qualifier was named in honor of Gary Bockman. For those who have been involved in racing at PIR over the last 50 years, there is no person more beloved and honored for devoting his life to the sport of racing and the preservation of our racing facility.

Gary Bockman was a true champion, winning countless races in a variety of cars. He was among the best drivers Portland has ever produced, and he taught the same skills to anyone willing to learn. “This track is my home,” he would often say, and that was more than just a metaphor.

Bockman also devoted thousands of hours and no one knows how much of his own money to developing this racing facility. He personally built the structures that the turn workers use to flag the races, and often fixed anything that needed repairs. He led the team that refurbished the bridge over the front straight. As you enjoy this year’s Rose Cup Races, you’re looking at Gary’s life’s work.

When PIR’s future was questioned by Mayor Tom Potter in 2005, Bockman led the formation of Friends of PIR, a non-profit support organization created to benefit the facility. Gary rallied civic and business leaders, along with thousands of Portlanders, to support the track’s mission. He then served as the group’s president several times over the organization’s 15-year history.

Bockman built a distinguished racing career over almost 50 years. Together with his friend Chuck Shafer, Gary set a world speed record in 2000 at the Silver State Classic. On a closed-off stretch of Nevada highway, the duo clocked an average speed of 207.780 MPH. At the time, that was the highest average speed ever achieved on a public highway. Bockman also drove to a third-place finish in the 2008 Alcan 5000 Winter Rally, traveling hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle and onto the ice of the Arctic Ocean. Gary is also a past podium finisher in the Rose Cup Race.

Throughout his life, Gary Bockman demonstrated his dedication to this sport and Portland’s racing community. That’s why we honor his memory every year at the Rose Cup Races.