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Ron Esau
Ron Esau (Photo courtesy of Scott Baker)

Ron Esau, the 1986 NASCAR Southwest Tour late model champion, passes away at 67

Ron Esau, a longtime member of west coast stock car racing community and the 1986 NASCAR Southwest Tour late model champion, passed away Monday, Jan. 24. He was 67.

Esau made 55 starts in what is now the ARCA Menards Series West from 1975-98 with a pair of runner-up finishes, one at Willow Springs and the other at Tucson Speedway. He had eight career top-five finishes, 20 top-10 finishes and three poles.

Esau’s Southwest Tour statistics were impressive, winning the series title in 1986 with four victories coming at Riverside, Stockton, Shasta and Willow Springs. His final two victories, one each in 1987 and 1988, also came at Shasta and Willow Springs.

Esau made three career ARCA Menards Series starts, all combination races with the West Series. He scored a pair of top-10 finishes at the ultra-fast Texas World Speedway in College Station, finishing sixth in 1992 and seventh in 1993.

He also made 17 career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series, with the majority of those starts at Riverside. He also ventured East on occasion, making starts at Talladega, Watkins Glen and Richmond. His best Cup finish, 14th, came at Riverside in 1976. He also finished third in the Cup-style exhibition race at the Calder Park Thunderdome in Australia in 1990.