Very sad news that Paul Sterrett passed away Saturday (2/11/17).
Paul battled cancer for the last several years. His condition worsened significantly recently.
Paul had a passion for slot car racing as he did for 1/1 racing. In the '60s, he was very interested in the SoCal slot car racing scene as many of the top slot car racers competed in the Los Angeles area in those days.
In the '60s, he was not old enough to drive a car and lived too far away (Sacramento) to join in the fun going on in SoCal in the mid-'60s. He raced slot cars as a youth at Hagginwood Raceway in Sacramento. As an adult, he raced 1/1 SCCA on the west coast, becoming one of the leading independent racers driving his Datsun sedan. He later moved to the Irvine area and began racing slot cars at BPR (not sure of the year).
For those who are not familiar with Paul, he was very passionate about our hobby. He was a regular at Buena Park Raceway for many years forming a friendship with Chris Gallegos (former owner of BPR). Paul helped out many racers through the years showing them how to build/set-up/race slot cars.
For many years Paul tried to get other racers involved with scratchbuilding as it was popular in the '60s/'70s. Not much interest in scratchbuilding in the '90s, early 2000s. He raced and supported USRA Div. 2 racing (scale racing) while supporting Div. 1 wing racing at BPR. Paul would always help others, especially wing racers even though he did not race wing cars himself.
While racing TSRF (PdL's RTR) cars at BPR in the mid-2000s, Paul met Mike Steube (through TSRF and PdL) and they raced TSRF cars for a few years on the old BPR hillclimb track. Paul was a big fan of Mike Steube as well as many other top racers of the golden years of slot car racing (1966-1968).
In 2005, Paul talked Mike into joining him and a few others in starting a scratchbuilding/racing class at BPR they co-founded in 2006 called D3 Retro Racing. The "D3" represented Div. 3 within USRA. USRA accepted this new racing class but it never became official since some racers did not care for USRA. Anyway, the "D3" name remained. This new racing class consisted of building/racing scratchbuilt 1/24 Lexan-bodied cars (Can-Am class initially, later F1, Coupe, NASCAR, Jail Door, and 1/32) similar to those that were raced in 1966-67 in SoCal. Mike liked Paul's idea of scratchbuilding cars similar to those built/raced during the Rod and Custom magazine race series in 1966/67. These were "inline" cars, except Mike and Paul agreed to use a sealed motor (Falcon type motor) rather than a rewound 16D type motor to focus on chassis building and racing.
Over the next several years, D3 Retro Racing flourished at BPR and even in some other areas of the US and World (Britain, Europe, Japan, etc.). Not long after D3 Retro Racing became popular at BPR, another Retro racing group formed back east, called IRRA. This new Retro racing organization was originally based on D3 retro racing rules with some exceptions, mainly type of motors used.
Since 2006, Retro racing has become the fastest growing slot car racing format in the US as well as in some other countries. The original basic idea of D3 slot car racing has endured although now through SCRRA racing at BPR. Even to this day, the original Checkpoint Cup race (which Paul created) held every January at BPR since 2009 (now under SCRRA rules) remains one of the major Retro races held each year in America.
In 2007-8, Paul and a few others started D3 Hardbody racing at BPR. This new racing class utilizes 1/24, 1/25 model car kit bodies along with scratchbuilt chassis. This racing class was an extension of hardbody NASCAR racing at BPR which in the beginning used 36D motors. A few years later, D3 Hardbody racing allowed sealed Falcon type motors along with modified 36D motors. This change resulted in many different hardbody racing classes since the sealed Falcon motors were much smaller and yet more reliable than the old 36D motor. To this day, D3 Hardbody racing at Buena Park Raceway continues to provide "fun" racing for many.
Paul moved back to the Sacramento area several years ago but continued to participate in the annual D3 Hardbody Nats and Enduro races at BPR each year.
Thanks to Paul Sterrett's vision, guidance, and support, Retro and Hardbody slot car racing has continued to be very popular at BPR. Many slot racers and BPR over the years benefited from Paul's passion for his favorite hobby.