Athlete of the year, Roger McCluskey

Athlete of the year, Roger McCluskey in 1973. Jack W. Sheaffer / Arizona Daily Star file photo 

Jack W. Sheaffer / Arizona Daily Star file photo

Editor's note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.

Today's list: the top 10 auto racers in Tucson history. 

During the 1950s you could walk into the Miller Rasor Radio and Speedometer shop on East Sixth Street near Arizona Stadium and talk shop with three of the immortal auto racers of Arizona history.

Roger McCluskey and Hank Arnold helped operate the repair shop; young Red Greth was hired for part-time work. It was the equivalent of walking into Bear Down Gym in 1930 to see Pop McKale and Fred Enke coaching the UA’s first All-American football player, Tucson High’s Ted Bland.

Over the last 80 years, Tucson has staged every manner of auto racing at a dozen locations, from Corona Speedway to Tucson Raceway Park and many more. One of the "many more" was the Davis-Monthan Dragstrip, which opened in 1957 and became one of the Southwest’s featured racing sites.

On June 17, 1957, a crowd estimated at 5,000 watched young Red Greth drive "Ol’ Noisy" 154.3 mph. For the next seven years, before the Air Force base closed the dragstrip in order to began housing out-of-service B-47 bombers, Greth’s reputation grew; in 1963 he set a world record by reaching 174.03 mph.

The culture of motorsports in Tucson flourished. The 10 leading auto racers in Tucson history is an impressive list of men who have raced at the Indy 500, on the NASCAR circuit and almost everywhere in between.

Here are my rankings:

Contact sports columnist Greg Hansen at 520-573-4362 or ghansen@tucson.com. On Twitter: @ghansen711

Sports columnist for the Arizona Daily Star.