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Friday, 04 December 2020
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Pueblo motorsports legend Walt Pickard passes away

Walt Pickard (photo courtesy of T.G. McCarthy Funeral Home)Walt Pickard (photo courtesy of T.G. McCarthy Funeral Home)

By Jeff Letofsky
The Pueblo Chieftain
Nov. 3, 2020

One of the state's most successful motorsports personalities, Walter "Walt" Lee Pickard, has passed away on Oct. 31.

Pickard, 88, who was inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2018 and the Greater Pueblo Sports Association Hall of Fame in 1988, leaves a rich legacy.

A Pueblo native who was born in 1932, he had a solid prep career playing football, wresting and baseball.

Pickard attended Pueblo Central High School, graduating in 1951. He earned eight varsity sports letters from 1948-51, competing in wrestling and baseball, where as a catcher, he helped the Wildcats to the 1950 state championship. He also was on the football team for two years.

Walt Pickard competes at the 10th Annual National Modified Jalopy Championship Races on July 31, 1966 in Hutchinson, Kansas (Courtesy photo/kansasracinghostory.com)Walt Pickard competes at the 10th Annual National Modified Jalopy Championship Races on July 31, 1966 in Hutchinson, Kansas (Courtesy photo/kansasracinghostory.com)During the summer months, Pickard was a catcher on the American Legion Post 203 softball teams that won back-to-back state tiles from 1948-49...He was also a reserve catcher for the VFW Post 203 at the 1951 World Championship Tournament.

Pickard went on to Pueblo Junior College to learn about welding and worked as an apprentice for Iron Workers Local 750

He began his racing career in 1957 when he drove a race car on a dare from friends Bob Hull and Wade Watts. From that point until 1972, Pickard was a competitor in the modified division, winning four track championships at Pueblo Speedway, and setting a track record that still stands by winning 10 events in one night at Beacon Hill Speedway.

Walt Pickard, driving his legendary #34 red coupe, has passed away following a successful motorsports career (courtesy photo/Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame)Walt Pickard, driving his legendary #34 red coupe, has passed away following a successful motorsports career (courtesy photo/Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame)While Pickard drove for Wade Watts, Charlie Shepherd, Charlie Simpson, and Otis Roberts in the early years of his career, he enjoyed a close friendship with Roger Nelson and drove his red #34 coupe for the bulk of his competitive days.

The majority of wins and championships in Pickard's record were won in partnership with Roger and the Nelson family.Highlights from his early racing days include competing against Bobby and Al Unser at the Colorado State Fairgrounds, and qualifying fifth at the Hutchinson Nationals in Kansas while driving the only six-cylinder powered car against 120 V-8 powered entries.

Pickard and his wife,Marion, began managing Beacon Hill Speedway in 1970, and purchased the track in 1972. Along with Mike Bonicelli and Rich Codner, he played a key role in forming the Olympia Challenge Cup Late Model racing series that brought some of the premier drivers from the across the nation to the track.

Pickard's legacy as a promoter also included dirt track auto racing on the 1/2 mile track at the Colorado State Fairgrounds from 1972 through the 1974 seasons, as well as running the race program at Raceway Park in Colorado Springs for the 1974 season

Pickard enjoyed success at many levels in his career as a driver, track owner and race promoter.

The Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame and Greater Sports Hall of Fame contributed.

<< Click HERE to view Walt's GPSA Bio

<< Click HERE to view Walt's Obituary

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