Hall of Fame consideration: Sonny Findling

March 20, 2014 1 Comment

2014QRLogoAt different points this season, we’re going to examine some top candidates for induction into the Quincy Raceways Hall of Fame. The fourth class of drivers and friends of the sport will be inducted later this year.

The first individual I’d like to discuss is a former late model driver who has always intrigued me: Sonny Findling. The following is a compilation of thoughts and facts we have discussed at times in the past:

 

There have been baseball players who never make it to the World Series. Can you say Ernie Banks?

Some of the best quarterbacks in NFL history never got the chance to play in a Super Bowl. Hello, Dan Fouts.

And some of NASCAR’s finest drivers — Mark Martin, to name one — never won a Sprint Cup championship.

That same school of thought could be applied to Leonard “Sonny” Findling’s late model career at Quincy Raceways. Always a contender and one of the most popular hotshoes in Bullring history, Findling, who raced out of Kirksville, Mo., never won the late model big iron.

That’s not to say he didn’t come close.

Sonny Findling takes the checkered flag in 1985, one of two seasons he finished second in points at 8000 Broadway.

Sonny Findling takes the checkered flag in 1985, one of two seasons he finished second in points at 8000 Broadway.

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Findling finished second in points twice and on eight occasions landed top-five points finishes.

Findling raced at 8000 Broadway during the track’s halcyon days when it was affiliated with NASCAR. Week in, week out, there were superstar trailers making the haul to Quincy. To even finish among the points leaders was quite an accomplishment most years.

Findling is No. 8 in our all-time late model rankings (see below), and while he is the only driver among the top 10 to never win a championship, it’s also a testament to his consistently high finishes in the points.

A good discussion point would be what if Findling, at the height of his career, was racing today at Quincy? How would he do? I’ll be interested to see what you think.

Sonny Findling Career Points Finishes at Quincy Raceways

1978: 5th (Jim Swank track champion)
1979:  did not race
1980: 9th (Steve Fraise track champion)
1981: 5th (Steve Fraise track champion)
1982: 6th (Steve Fraise track champion)
1983: 4th (Steve Fraise track champion)
1984: 4th (Steve Fraise track champion)
1985: 2nd (Terry Gallaher track champion)
1986: 5th (Dick Crane track champion)
1987: 5th (Terry Gallaher track champion)
1988: 2nd (Terry Gallaher track champion)
1989: 5th (Steve Fraise track champion)

Note: Findling’s last full-time season at Quincy was 1989. He made an appearance now and then in ensuing years, the last being in 1997.

LATE MODEL ALL-TIME DRIVER RANKINGS (1975-2013)

Our rankings award points on a 15-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis to the drivers who finish in the final top 10 points positions each season. Their career totals in this respect then form the rankings. We update the rankings in each class at the end of each division’s points season.

1. Mark Burgtorf, 293 points (14 titles) Hall of Fame member
2. Terry Gallaher, 232 (4) Hall of Fame member
3. Steve Fraise, 178 (9) Hall of Fame member
4. Lonnie Bailey, 148 (2)
5. Dick Crane, 104.5 (1) Hall of Fame member
6. Denny Woodworth, 103 (2)
7. Jim Swank, 73.5 (1)
8. Sonny Findling, 70.5
9. Brent Slocum, 64 (1)
10. Justin Reed, 62 (1)

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  1. Charles Pipes says:

    Steve,

    I have known Sonny all my life and he would be a wonderful candidate for your Hall of Fame. He is by far, one of the top ten drivers to have raced at Quincy. I’m a little concerned however, my father being Larry Pipes, with the rest of your top ten listing. While my dad ran at the Quincy Speedway, his main rival was always Steve Fraise. This was not a bitter, but friendly rivalry, which in fact, Steve got the best of my dad on many more occasions than my father got of him. As I recall, and this may sound biased, Terry Gallaher, Dick Crane, and Jim Swank were not in the same conversation, as best drivers during that time period. Needless to say, if you were to poll fans during those late 70’s, early 80s, and for that matter, the 10 drivers currently listed as your top 10, you might be adding my dad, Larry “PeeVine” Pipes to your list.

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