Five race car drivers were honored on Saturday, March 9 at the 11th Annual Elma Auto Racing Hall of Fame Induction Program and Dinner held at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds in Elma.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame were Rick Greves, Tom Sweatman, Martin Hinderlie, Don “Slim” Erickson and Bob Beerbower.
Greves began racing in the semi-modified class in Elma during the 1974 season, where he impressed by finishing second to future Elma Hall of Famer Rich Leighty in the seasonal championship.
Greves followed that performance with a fourth place in overall points in 1975.
Greves won multiple races over the next 10 years until he suffered a major accident in 1985. After recovering under medical supervision for approximately eight months, Greves returned to the track to keep racing and, later in his career, won the mid-season title.
Greves retired from racing in the early 90’s to focus on raising his two daughters.
Sweatman began racing in 1981, a year after graduating high school, and he’s been at it ever since.
Racing hobby stocks, Sweatman won his first Elma championship in 1989.
Sweatman has raced in multiple classes and on both dirt and asphalt surfaces. He won a super-late model track championship at Spanaway Speedway and ran several seasons with the NASCAR Northwest Tour, totalling six victories in his time there.
In 1999, he won three races on the Northwest Tour and finished second in points. Sweatman also placed fifth in 1994 and fourth in 1998 in the NASCAR series.
Sweatman also earned a race win in NASCAR’s Southwest Tour in 1999 in the Winter Heat Event held in Tuscon, Arizona, beating future NASCAR Cup Series champions Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch in the process.
Sweatman returned to Grays Harbor Raceway to compete in the modified class and has won three straight championships from 2016-18.
Don “Slim” Erickson
Erickson had been involved at Grays Harbor Speedway for years, starting out by helping friends Brian Sutherby and Donny Fry with their sprint cars. He eventually helped out in track preparation and operations before being offered a position with the track in 2008.
Erickson has helped to maintain the clay track surface at Elma for over a decade.
Former Grays Harbor County Fair Board member Bob Beerbower, who served in that role for 10 years, balanced speedway and horse racing events during his tenure.
After his time with the fair board, Beerbower served as Grays Harbor County Commissioner for 13 years.
While serving as county commissioner, Beerbower had a fortuitous meeting with late race promoter Fred Brownfield.
The meeting led to Brownfield promoting the “World of Outlaws” sprint car series at the Elma track in 1996 and 1997, before Brownfield Promotions took over track operations in 1998.
Beerbower played an integral role in raceway facility renovations, helping convince other county commissioners that hosting the sprint series and bringing about improvements to the raceway would benefit the community.
In 2003, work began on renovating Grays Harbor Raceway, including a new scoring tower, additional concessions, permanent grandstands and new track lighting, to name a few.
Beerbower and Brownfield’s vision for the track also included making the track larger, with a new crash wall and fencing around the entirety of the course.
The renovations were completed in 2004, giving Grays Harbor one of the top dirt track facilities on the West Coast.
Hinderlie was a master of many racing trades, competing in two, three and four-wheel races on dirt, pavement and off-road courses during his time as a driver.
Hinderlie competed in dirt bike races at the old Kingdome and won events at the Tacoma Dome against competitors from across the western United States.
He made the switch from bikes and Odysseys to four-wheeled machines where he dabbled in demolition derbies and endurance events at tracks in Shelton, Rainier, Spanaway, Yakima and Elma.
In 1984, Hinderlie made the move to hobby stocks and showed consistency competing on the Grays Harbor track, winning Rookie of the Year and the track championship in his first season.
A few years later, Hinderlie competed in pro stock events and also raced late models on the NASCAR Northwest Tour.
Hinderlie retired from racing in 1998.