Especially if you’re from the Midwest, and follow the wingless Sprint cars of the U.S. Auto Club, you knew this guy, or at least knew the gorgeous race cars that he and his family fielded and the legion of drivers he shepherded to stardom. Richard Hoffman, who hailed from the Cincinnati area, died April 30 at the age of 76.
This image, from the Facebook page of Hoffman Auto Racing via USAC, depicts the man in his element. Richard inherited his love of dirt track auto racing from his father, Gus, who first fielded a Sprint car in USAC’s inaugural year of 1956. Richard’s son, Rob, later joined the family effort, hallmarked by green, white and orange Sprint cars that stood out even amid the flash of USAC’s “Thunder and Lightning” division. Hoffman’s cars won 117 USAC features and captured 11 national championships in the Sprint division, with drivers Rich Vogler, Robbie Stanley, Dave Darland, Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons Jr. and Brady Bacon. The Hoffmans also dabbled in Indy cars, fielding cars for Larry “Boom Boom” Cannon, Joe Saldana, Jerry Sneva and Spike Gelhausen. The Amsoil-backed national Sprint cars make their enthusiastically received East Coast swing next month; you can get the full schedule on the USAC website.