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Gone Racin’…Andy Porterfield Story by Richard Parks Nov. 28, 2012

Gone Racin’…Andy Porterfield Story by Richard Parks Nov. 28, 2012

Gone Racin’…Andy Porterfield Story
by Richard Parks.
 May 1, 2012.


Andy Porterfield was born on June 1, 1931 in Southgate, California and passed away on April 17, 2012 in Newport Beach, California. His family and friends gathered together to remember Andy on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at the chapel on the grounds of Pacific View Memorial Park, in Corona Del Mar, California. Andy will be buried not far from another American hero, John Wayne. Andy’s wife, Judy A. Porterfield wrote this poem to her husband. “A man of great conviction, courage and heart. My love, my husband, my heart. In this life and after.” Everyone who knew Andy Porterfield felt this passion for him. Two hundred friends and family members crowded into the little chapel and paid their respects to this man who loved sports car racing and continued to race up through his 80th year, until poor health made him stop. In fact, he had just taken ownership of a new car with 700 horsepower and raced it twice before finally ending his lifelong dream of driving fast cars. Andy is survived by his wife Judy, daughters Melanie Mathis and Pamela Capozzoli, son Tracy Porterfield, granddaughters Annalisa Taylor and Andrea Capozzoli, grandson Chance King, and great-granddaughters Gianni and Liliana Taylor. The following story is by Art Evans in his book Race Legends of the Fabulous Fifties.

“Andy Porterfield is unique among Southern California fifties-era amateur sports car drivers. He started racing in 1957 and has competed continuously for 43 years (the book was published 15 years ago, so Andy has actually raced for 54 years). He has won a total of 195 SCCA National races! He won the SCCA National Championship two years – 1978 and 1979 – the SCCA Divisional Championship 19 times. Even with a hip replacement, he won an SCCA National event in 2000 (at the age of 69). Andrew Tracy Porterfield was born on June 1, 1931. He attended high school in Los Angeles and lettered in track. At Chico State College he was awarded a degree in business administration. Andy and his wife, Judy, live in Newport Beach. They have a son, Tracy, and two daughters, Pamela and Melanie. Andy’s hobby is racing, although he does enjoy racquetball and water skiing. Today, Andy is the president and owner of Porterfield Enterprises Ltd. Based in Newport Beach, the company manufactures and distributes racing brake pads and related items. Previous to that, Andy was a partner in Cardinal Nuclear Fasteners. He was also an inspector of nuclear energy plants,” Evans explained.

“For many years, Porterfield has been very involved in the administration of the Sports Car Club of America, on the local as well as the national level. He served two terms on the SCCA National board of directors and on that of the California Sports Car Club Region for 16 years. Additionally, he has served a number of times as the Regional Executive (president) of the CSCC. Andy started racing in Southern California. He and I were friendly rivals, Andy in his 1957 Corvette and me in my 1954 XK120 Jaguar. Aware of his ability, I entered him in my Devin SS at the 1959 Los Angeles Grand Prix. It was his first professional race,” Evans stated.

“Over the years, Porterfield has won more than 350 amateur and professional races. He has posted 195 SCCA National victories and set 127 National lap records. He won the SCCA Southern Pacific Division Championship an unprecedented 23 times for seven consecutive years. In 1978-79 he was the SCCA ‘Driver of the Year.’ On the professional level, he competed in 38 Trans-Am events and 22 IMSA races, winning in the GTO class in 1993. In the Trans-Am, he finished in the top ten 13 times and was third overall twice. Andy has won more SCCA races than any other member. He has been awarded lifetime membership in the SCCA, the California Sports Car Club and the Road Racing Drivers Club. When I organized the revival of the Palm Springs Road Races in 1985, Andy had a reunion with my Devin SS in an exhibition that featured more than 50 drivers who had competed there during the fifties,” concluded Evans.

The speakers included Judy Porterfield, Pamela Porterfield Capozzoli, Melanie Porterfield Mathis, Annalisa Taylor, Art Evans, Bob Bondurant, and Andrea Capozzoli. Following the speakers the guests were led in the Lord’s Prayer by Andrea and then saw a short video of Andy’s life. The family then requested that internment be private among the family only and for the guests to assemble at the El Torito Restaurant in Newport Beach for a luncheon and reception. Andy requested that his racing friends and family join together and remember the friendships that had been forged over a lifetime of sports car competition. Judy welcomed the guests to the services and turned the podium over to Art Evans, Andy’s long time friend. “Judy told me that I was Andy’s oldest friend and I suppose she meant in actual age,” Evans said in his dry humor as the guests murmured their approval. “I met Andy at his first race, which was at Paramount Ranch and it was a tough place to learn how to road race. Raise your hands if you know where Paramount Ranch is located,” Art intoned, and many in the crowd raised their hands. “They named it Paramount Ranch after the movie studio that used the site for shooting movies, especially Westerns,” Art continued.

The guests were now listening to every word as Art went on; “Ken Miles taught me how to drive that course. Bob Bondurant was also driving at Paramount. Andy brought a John Fitch-built car and placed tenth in his first race. We raced in the 1500 cc class and 1957 was Andy’s learning year. Andy raced at Riverside in September of that year and he was getting better with each race. We returned to Paramount Ranch and Andy placed a respectable third, but two deaths and some serious injuries caused the closure of this race course. In 1958 Andy really began to excel and placed second to Richie Ginther in one race and was first at Santa Barbara. Andy signed a deal with Harry Mann Chevrolet to drive their cars. I could see his talent and in October of 1959 I gave Andy his first ride in a professional race in my Devin SS, but unfortunately the car fell out of the race. I wrote an obituary for Andy and it is at Andy and Judy lived in Seal Beach and Jack McAfee and I would go and see him and get our hair cut there and later have lunch. Even after he moved to Newport Beach he would meet us in Seal Beach for lunch and a haircut. Andy raced until his 80th birthday in the Vintage and Historics racing class. He was one of the most competitive and driven racers that I have known,” Evans concluded his remarks.

Pamela Porterfield Capozzoli, Andy’s daughter, was the next speaker. “My father’s racing gave me such joy and excitement. At one of his victories he let me ride in the car with him and wave the flag as he took a victory lap around the race course. His life with his family was full of love and happiness. He was a man of few words as many of you know, until I had my children. We called him Grandpa Baby,” Pamela smiled as she told us these personal stories of her father. Melanie Porterfield Mathis, Andy’s oldest daughter spoke next. “My father loved his family. He led an action packed life. He loved racing, his work and his family. I treasured every moment that I spent with my father at the race track. We used to always say, ‘Any day you can walk away from a race is a good day.’ I learned a lot from being in my dad’s garage. He would say things like, ‘Do a job right. Finish a job that you started. Earn a penny, save a penny.’ That was my dad’s philosophy and he taught it to us. One day I remember I saw a penny on the ground and bent down to pick it up. The next thing I know is that my head hurt. My dad went for the same penny that I went for and we bumped heads. I ended up with the penny and he was proud of me that I got it and saved it. My dad would like all of you to know that he would want all of you to keep racing alive and to tell your stories to all who would listen,” Melanie told the smiling guests.

Annalisa Taylor, Andy’s granddaughter, was the next to speak. “I want to thank everyone for coming to my grandfather’s Celebration of Life. He was amazing, and he had an intelligent, sarcastic and cynical sense of humor that always kept us laughing. It is an honor to be his granddaughter. He was still driving race cars at the age of 80. He always taught me to follow my dreams. I was the one who gave him the name Grandpa Baby. He was so loyal and protective. He told me once, ‘Better tell your boyfriend that the next time he’s mean to you that he will have to deal with me and I’m not very nice.’ Another time he reassured me by saying, ‘Don’t you worry, I’ll be with you forever.’ God took him to be with Him, because he needed a driver up in Heaven,” Melanie told the teary crowd. Bob Bondurant came to the podium to speak next. “I raced against Andy many times. We were there to win, but off the track we were friends. There was a gentleman’s agreement in road racing that if you bumped someone you would wave your hand and said you were sorry. It was an unwritten rule. Andy told me recently that he got a new Camaro with a 700 horsepower engine and he raced it twice at the age of 80. He really liked having all that power, even at his age,” Bob said with a smile.

The last speaker was Andrea Capozzoli, Andy’s youngest granddaughter. “I want to thank you all for coming. My grandfather made a huge impact on my life. He used to tell me, ‘Work and dream for the best.’ Racing was his passion and he had the biggest love for racing that I have ever seen in anyone. My grandfather would go to the ends of the earth to fight for what he loved and racing was his love. He didn’t want to leave us and I could see how much he struggled to be with his family. My grandfather has left such a mark in my heart. He could show me so much love in his smile. He has given me a reason to follow my dreams. Grandpa Baby, you are my hero,” Andrea said with great emotion and those in the audience were very quiet. “You never gave up. You pushed yourself to be your best. I am honored to say that you are my grandfather. I will always remember what you taught me, ‘The easy way out is the wrong way.’ I love you so much,” Andrea ended with great emotion. Following the speakers there was a twenty minute video on Andy’s life and then the guests left the chapel and headed over to the El Torito Restaurant in Newport Beach for a reception and luncheon in honor of a great sports car legend.

Andy’s family members at the memorial services were; Judy Porterfield (Andy’s wife), Tracy Porterfield (son), Chance King (grandson), Melanie Porterfield Mathis (daughter), Pamela Porterfield Capozzoli (daughter), Annalisa Taylor (granddaughter), Gianni Taylor (great-granddaughter), Liliana Taylor (great-granddaughter), and Andrea Capozzoli (granddaughter). Andy’s friends who came to the memorial were; Art Evans, Bob and Pat Bondurant, Dick Guldstrand, Bill Pollack, Scooter Patrick, Davey Jordan, Chuck Hance, Ross Murray, Genie and Paul Parsons, Tony Adamowicz, Rod Bean, Candye Rucker, Timothy D. Gray, Sheri Gray, Ellen Lowery, Casey and Matt Geier, Marge and Phil Binks, Molly Binks, Bob Silvestro, Jerry Austin, Tonye Dreger, Paul Dreger, Alex Dreger, Harley Mendenhall, Doug and Elyce Heppner, Ceci Smith, Brian Stephens, Rita Stephens, Michelle Gilbert, Penelope and Allan Coy, Jane and Steve Anderson, Zach Ananias, Rene Revenaugh, Celia Eschevaria Lucero, Karen Ontiveros, Marcelo Cordoba, Mike and Shannon Miserendino, Tom and Kris Miserendino, Wally and Lynda Bollenger, D.W. Weller, John Drysdale, Ron Yocon, Dave Stewart, Tom Evans, Oli Thordaxson, Bill Galey, Robin Schifando, Tom Matteau, Greg and Judy Remsen, Bill ‘Willie’ Patterson, Mercedes Julian, Jeff and Genie Barker, Danny McKeever, Vincent and Jodi Lockyer, Bil Baldwin, Brian and Lynn Husting, Dave Dwyer, Nelda Snow, Brian Weaver, Tom and Suzy Riley, Kate Riley, Tiberina Ugarcona, Prashant Kamboya, William F. and Barbara Steagall, Pam and Marc Faulkner, Scott Stubick, Martin Brannon, Gemma Bannon, Sarah Fletcher, Mike and Wendy Chenlier, Gerry Gerken, Jodi Gately, Mike and Daniele Le, Michael McElroy, Steve Schuler, Kathy Frohlich, Jan Lawyer, Bob Legate, Sandy Buckley, Jill Clements, Hope Tarrant, J. L. and Olga Henderson, Nan and Charlie Wilson, John J. Miller, Les Nimmo, Donald Tipping, Bill Schepergerdes, Chris Esslinger, Stewart B. Van Dyne II, Angel Ornelas, Tomas Lopez, Rosendo Che, Dwight Tanaka, Tzsha Tanaka/Day, Diana Robertson, Steve and Winnie Schnabel, Kendra Hayden, Maritza Rodriguez Farr, Jot Langdon, Victor M. Chavez, Bob and Carol Brewer, Bob Velarde, Michael Lewis and family, Jessica Nguyen, Bob Kelly, Martha Hernandez, Frank Hanrahan, Don and Patty Scott, Piper Scott, Jack Stavely, Sue Lloyd, Anna Broussard, David Evans, Tami and Jun Abdon, Vangie Abdon, Katie Carr, Richard Parks, and Robert Holman.

Gone Racin’ is at [email protected].