The rivalry between Al Pombo of Fresno and Marshall Sargent of San Jose was one of the greatest in West Coast auto racing history. Their exploits filled the grandstands week in and week out, wherever they raced together in the very competitive NASCAR Modified Series, also known as "Hardtops". This was especially true at their home tracks of Fresno's Kearney Bowl and the San Jose Speedway as well as Clovis Speedway. These were the weekly races Friday thru Sunday. However, both ventured out to other tracks and associations throughout the western United States.
Who was the better of the two? That is being argued to this day. Both had distinct personalities as well as distinct driving styles. Al Pombo was extremely smooth and would make the cars handling fit him. Marshall Sargent, on the other hand, could man handle anything with 4 wheels. Both won numerous races and championships throughout their careers. Books could, and should, be written about their exploits although most readers would assume them to be fiction. Much of what they did during that era is somewhat unbelievable by today's standards. The fans were very evenly divided between the two and packed the grandstands weekly.
As to personalities, Pombo was friendly although he had a bit of an ego which was understandably well deserved. Sargent was more outgoing and a showman, sometimes to the point of being a bit out of control which his fans loved. Pombo raced but in addition he worked as a diesel mechanic and had his own business. Sargent raced for a living, period. During the winter months in the U.S., Marshall would head "down under" to Australia which was also a hotbed for racing. There, he gave the Aussies driving lessons.
Considered the best NASCAR drivers on the west coast from the late 50's throughout the 1960's, both would have been among the best in any era of auto racing.
A special thank you from the Woodland Auto Display to Jim Perry for his Al Pombo #3 modified and Ed Bairos for his Marshall Sargent #7 modified.
1960's NASCAR Modified Hardtops
- Year Built: 1950's-1960's
- Vehicle Type: NASCAR Modified Hardtop
- Owner: Jim Perry (Pombo) & Ed Barios (Sargent)