The local motor sports community lost two great racers when Rex Hutchison and Jack Sellers passed away last weekend.
Hutchison, who died last week at age 84, lived in Roseville but ran Rex Hutchison Racing Engines off Auburn Boulevard since 1972. He built engines for a variety of racing vehicles, from motorcycles, to sprint cars to NASCAR and boats. At one time, Hutchison was also a pioneer boat racer and one of the first to drive a single-prop boat more than 100 mph, his grandson, Dylan Hutchison said.
“He was one of the first to put a supercharger on a boat engine and go more than 100 mph on the water,” said Dylan, a noted sprint car and NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver himself. “He built the business from nothing when he started in 1972 to shipping engines to Indy 500 teams, NASCAR, and to racers all over the world.”
Dylan’s father, Glenn, will take over the family business. He ran the machine shop for decades while Rex ran the front office handling the paperwork and sales, Dylan said.
“Racing has always been in the family,” Dylan said. “My dad and grandpa were into boat racing, and I started racing quarter midgets and moved up to NASCAR and sprint cars. Even my mom’s side of the family is into dirt-bike racing.”
Rex Hutchison would attend many races whether his engines were used in race cars on dirt or asphalt. If there was a big race in town, chances are Hutchison would be in the pits saying hello.
“No matter what track we were at he always knew someone,” Dylan said.
Dylan said services for Hutchison are pending and will likely be held in mid-November.
Dylan Hutchison, 21, was also saddened by the news that Sellers died at age 72 a day later after his grandfather. .
Sellers gave Dylan a chance to drive on the K&N Pro Series West circuit as a 17- and 18-year-old. Sellers worked out a deal with Hutchison where the young man would work on Sellers’ car – as well as the one Sellers let him race – in exchange for the seat time
Dylan has fond memories of driving pickups while towing haulers to racetracks in Iowa and throughout the western states with Sellers in the passenger seat looking at his watch, just waiting for 5 p.m.
“That was the time he’d have a Smirnoff with Fresca and a cut of lime,” Hutchison said. “Every day, no matter where we were. Vodka and Fresca with a cut of lime, 5 p.m., no earlier.”
It’s no wonder Sellers used Fresca. His family owned the Sacramento Coca-Cola bottling plant for more than 80 years and Fresca was in the product line. After working in the family business for much of his life, Sellers was named chairman emeritus in 2008 and focused on racing during the season and having fun.
“Jack was out there having fun just being a part of the racing community,” said Bill McAnally, who recently celebrated his sixth K&N Pro Series West owners’ championship and knew Sellers for three decades. “Jack was always willing to help out, and back in 1994, when my truck and hauler were stolen and the race car was set on fire, Jack was the first one to call me and let me race his car the next race down south.”
Sellers had no ambition of racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He was happy bumping around tracks throughout the western United States.
Sellers didn’t take a checkered flag in a K&N Pro Series West-record 282 career starts over a 32-year career. The series was known as the NASCAR Winston West Grand National Division when Sellers made his debut at Sonoma’s Sears Point Raceway in 1985.
In all, Sellers entered more than 300 events from coast to coast. In the K&N Pro Series West, he recorded 32 top-10 finishes and had a career-best seventh-place finish on five occasions, with the most recent at Washington’s Evergreen Speedway in 2013. He finished in the top 10 of the championship standings in seven of eight seasons between 1987 and 1994, and took fifth overall in 1993.
His last full season of competition was 2014, finishing ninth in the championship standings. He entered four K&N Pro Series West races this season and his last race was Oct. 15 for the McAnally-sponsored Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Roseville’s All American Speedway. Sellers finished 14th.
“Jack was a character, always a character,” Dylan said. “He was a character on the radio, especially during races. He’d be getting lapped, but he’d be talking to his spotter about his dog. That was Jack.”
Tribute to Gary Patterson
The King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series and the Civil War 360 Sprint Car Series will compete on the same night Nov. 5 at the Stockton Dirt Track, showcasing the 33rd annual Tribute to Gary Patterson.
Sacramento native Kyle Hirst leads Campbell’s Bud Kaeding by 28 points for the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series title. Hirst is trying to become a three-time series champion.
The Civil War 360 Sprint Car Series is led by eight-time series champion Andy Forsberg of Auburn, who leads Princeton’s Mason Moore by 16 points.
Forsberg won last season’s Tribute to Gary Patterson at the Stockton Dirt Track. Chico’s Michael Ing, Roseville’s Sean Becker and Watsonville’s Justin Sanders are the top-five drivers entering the season finale.
Patterson died in a sprint-car crash at Calistoga Speedway in 1983 and an event in his memory has been held every year since. Patterson moved to Stockton in 1957 and began his career at the Stockton 99 Speedway. This is the fourth consecutive year the race has been held in his honor in Stockton.
Friday’s racing action includes wingless sprints, modifieds, dwarf cars and vintage racers.
For more information, go to tinyurl.com/z66628d.
Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at email@example.com or @editorwriter001.