Patterson started his long racing career in the late 50’s in Hells Canyon, Oregon. but he never stayed in one place long. The next race track or motel near the track is what he called home. He lived and breathed racing for his entire life. He was a true OUTLAW of the sprint car racing world and was feared and respected by many in racing….

This story about G. P. happened down under in Australia. He took a midget car down to race in Australia, they put a PEACE symbol on the car as the number cause G. P.’s cars always had peace signs on them. So he raced the car a few times. When a spectator approached him with the question “What kind of number is that?” G. P. replied to the fan that it was a # 1 (one) with crutches cause he was so DAMN FAST that it needed them to stay upright while he raced. G. P. was one who always had a colorful reply and he did so in order to make the fans LOVE or HATE him. Whatever got them to the race track to see him race…He is missed VERY MUCH around the WORLD…

ON THE GAS with G. P.
G. P was racing at Ascot one night in #56 car he had this old dry-rotted firestone tire he had a normal groove in, but one side of the tire he grooved “bite my ass”. He covered the tire with tarp, went out and set 3rd quick time. The L.A. boys Thompson, Noffsinger and others had to see what G. P. was running and they kept trying to knock this tarp off, finally they got a glimpse of the hidden tire and they could hardly believe that old thing set 3rd quick time. G. P. replied to them you can either try that tire or just do what it says, that’s when they realized what the tire had grooved into the tread “Bite My Ass”. They all left totally disgusted by G. P’s behavior. Once again G. P. got the” Weekend Warriors ” on The Ropes…That was what G. P. lived for…..

G. P. raced at the Knoxville Nationals many times, racing to win the most respected trophy in all sprint car racing, and it was held out of his reach. For his great racing career he won a place in the Sprint Car Hall Of Fame located at Knoxville Raceway…..

Gary Patterson was one of the original Outlaws, traveling from track to track before it was fashionable. As a true independent, he answered only to himself. He raced what he wanted and where he wanted, seeking the biggest challenges or the biggest purse. But, no matter where he was found, he lived and raced only by his choices. No promoter, no race car owner, and no sanctioning group had a leash on “GP”.

He was among the most well known sprint car drivers in the world, revered in some quarters, considered in more controversial terms in others. Nonetheless, he was universally recognized and respected for his driving talent at every track from Knoxville to Adelaide. Regardless of his politics, he stood for hard, wheel-to-wheel, give-no-quarter, competitive racing.

“GP”, “The Preacher”, was one of Northern California’s favorite sons. And even though he ran on everything from mile ovals to bullrings, the scenic 1/2 mile Calistoga Speedway was one of his favorites (he still holds the one lap track record for non-winged sprint cars there). He raced Calistoga by choice.

Even the 1983 accident that ended his life was the result of his own choice – to take his chances with the wall rather than take out another driver along the way. He lived by his own decisions, he raced by his own decisions, and was never afraid to face the consequences. He respected other people’s choices. He expected no less than the same respect for his own.

(Contributed by Steve Lafond)

One of the most clear memories of GP was a Saturday night at Liverpool City Raceway (on the asphalt track). GP had requested a engine warm up at the rear of the field in a encourage race full of B graders at the time. These races where equivalent to a B main these days and the race was over 15 laps. For the first 10 laps GP circulated and the rear of the field his Sesco sounding beautiful. 5 laps from the end GP must have decided lets see how the car really goes so one by one he picked car after car off.

Two laps from the end the chief steward decided this was not in the script and brought out black flag well like a red flag to a bull GP was having no part of it . He reeled in car after car ,on the last corner the two leaders left enough room to squeeze a car through and away went GP THROUGH THE GAP to on the line to win by wheel length. Well GP decided he would go around to accept the checkered flag, well when he got there, there was a welcoming party of the stewards a heated discussion took place and GP returned to the pits not a happy man.

The stewards were in a flap the announcer and promoters loved it but most of the all the crowd were on their feet to a man loving it cheering GP, needless to say who came out and blew the feature race away…..GP

The man was what this sport sadly lacks these days a racer and entertainer.

Steven Gillespie

Thanks racing fans for keeping G.P.'s memory ALIVE.....

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