The recipient of the 2016 Jerry Van Dyke Award, which is given as recognition for contributions to Colorado Motorsports by an individual, is Gray Brumfield for his decades-long commitment to supporting Sports Car Club of America events and operations. Gray began his involvement in road racing in 1953, when one of his co-workers at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey was building a race car and invited him to attend races at Bridgehampton Raceway. Though this was his first race, he knew he was hooked! He applied to the SCCA and was accepted. His race involvement consisted of some pit crew work and watching the races, one of which included a young Roger Penske in an MG-TC. In 1955, an official asked him to serve as a corner marshal by saying “you look bored, how about helping me? Take this yellow flag, go up the hill and display it if somebody spins or stalls on the course.” It was the beginning of 50-plus years of being part of the flagging and communications specialty so integral to SCCA events.
Gray was bitten by the racing bug, and in 1957 purchased a 1955 MG-TF, attended driver’s school, and received his competition license. His driving career was comparatively brief, however, when seen alongside his ongoing work toward developing safety and on-track communication programs within the SCCA organization. He helped form a training program for track workers, as well as the development of a national standard for corner flag use that is the basis for contemporary flagging practice. A racing accident that left him severely injured in 1958 convinced him of the need to provide greater protection for corner workers, and he was instrumental in developing designs of corner bunkers to shield flaggers from spinning race cars that have evolved to the stringent standards used at tracks across the country today.
A job opportunity brought Gray to Colorado in 1969. After searching out the local SCCA chapter, he joined the region’s club as they lost one of their track, the beautiful Continental Divide Raceway. He helped locate another facility is Aspen, only to lose it after a few years. The group then converted and abandoned airport in La Junta for racing use, and over the years coordinated SCCA activities with Second Creek Raceway, Pueblo Raceway, Mead Raceway, and Pikes Peak Raceway. Most recently, Gray became one of the principal figures involved in the building and operation of High Plains Raceway, located near Byers, Colorado. This state-of-the-art facility has many of the safety features Gray has championed over his long involvement with road racing, including substantial safety bunkers on each corner to protect flaggers who are there to maintain control and safe racing communication.
While Gray has stepped back from corner work at road races these days, he is still active in race communications at various racing events, and continues his 60+ years of significant contribution to motor racing. He is a most deserving recipient of one of Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame’s most prestigious awards!