Paul and Helen Bagley
Paul and Helen Bagley
Bagley Memorial 2003 photo by Mike Arthur
When Paul and Helen lost their son Jeff at Ascot in 1989, they could have given up sprint car racing, but they didn't. Instead he and Helen got even more involved in racing. He put together an award to honor his son's memory and continued on. Along with close friend Harlan Willis, photographer Steve Koletar, and a few more assisting Paul & Helen, the Jeff Bagley Memorial award was born. Over the ten years that the award was presented, it was the one of the highest awards in sprint car racing and sanctioned by the Knoxville Sprint Car Hall of fame. Tom Schmeh, the museum's leader, would make the presentation ceremony part of his travel schedule each year. The honored recipients were Rich Bubak, Glenn Howard, Billy Wilkerson, Don Turl, Danny Pivoveroff, Steve Wiliby, Ralph Tracy, Gale Forester and Bill & Evelyn Pratt. I was lucky to be one of the recipients, and will always cherish it.
The inscription on the award was very special. It read: "Jeff Bagley Memorial, Awarded annually to an individual on the national Motorsports scene who best exemplifies the spirit of the late Jeff Bagley. A 100% effort throughout the season no matter what the circumstances may be. The willingness to help their fellow competitors even at the expense of their on individual performance. A consistent positive attitude towards automobile racing, maintaining the idea that we are all here to have a good time above and beyond everything else. Jeff Bagley was a racer."
Paul and Helen then went on to sponsor a annual Memorial race for Jeff, held at Ventura Raceway, starting in 2001. Cory Kruseman won the first edition and the 3rd edition was scheduled for May 3rd. Sadly, it was cancelled due to rain, but any future Bagley Mmorial events will honor them as well.
Paul and Helen were financial supporters for many special SCRA events, including the Wagsdash and the Kindoll Classic, where additional money was raised to pump the purse. They loved racing and went to enjoy themselves, seldom missing a race. They had a smile for everyone and were a welcome presence in the pits. This loss is shared by everyone in the racing community. Our prayers go out to the family and all who knew them. They leave one son, Steven and his family, behind. May they rest in peace.