Erik Dolson was awarded the Wemme Trophy in Portland Vintage Racing earlier this month.wphoto by Kasey Klaus
Erik Dolson was awarded the Wemme Trophy in Portland Vintage Racing earlier this month.wphoto by Kasey Klaus
Sisters auto-racer Erik Dolson is the 2019 recipient of the Wemme Trophy, a lifetime achievement award recognizing contributions to Portland Vintage Racing. Dolson was presented with the award on Sunday, July 14 at the conclusion of the Rose Cup Vintage Grand Prix held at the Portland International Raceway.

Jeff Zurschmeide, a freelance writer and vintage racing enthusiast who sits on the board that decides on the Wemme award each year, said that Dolson has “been on the short list for several years.”

He noted that, “When I said, ‘I think this is the year for Erik,’ everybody just said, ‘oh, yeah.’ Shortest meeting we’ve ever had.”

The racing program notes that, “Each year, the Wemme Trophy is awarded to a driver of great skill who best represents the ideals of Vintage Racing. Those ideals include sportsmanship on the track, craftsmanship in preparing the vintage racecar, and friendliness to the fans.”

Zurschmeide said that Dolson, who has been racing since the 1990s, exemplifies those values.

“Erik is one of the most well-liked and well-respected drivers in the whole scene,” he said.

Dolson is a clean racer and a competitive one — always in the hunt for first place. And, Zurschmeide says, he is one of those who “is a gentleman on and off the track, respects the sport and everyone around them.”

The Sisters racer — and one-time editor and publisher of The Nugget — told his hometown paper that he is “honored and humbled” to have his name on the trophy.

The modern Wemme Trophy has been awarded to Renny Watt, Norm Daniels, Greg Baldwin, John Zupan, Tim Scott, Monte Shelton, Paul Ingram, Bob Ames, David Franks and Arnie Loynin.

“The names on the trophy are names I’ve respected for years,” Dolson said. “To be on the trophy with them is quite an honor. There are others in the paddock who represent the goals and the values of the Wemme even more than I — but I am honored and humbled to be named.”

Zurschmeide was instrumental in the resurrection of the Wemme Trophy — originally awarded in 1909 and named after E. Henry Wemme, a Portland-based industrialist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“He owned the first several cars in Portland,” Zurschmeide said. “And later he owned the first airplane in Portland, too.”

Wemme sponsored a trophy for the third Rose Cup, Zurschmeide explained.

“The race took place on public roads between Portland and Gresham,” he said.

Bert Dilley won that race.

As the centennial approached, the Rose Cup Committee re-commissioned the Wemme Trophy in 2009, with the orientation of the award to honor lifetime achievement and promotion of the values of sportsmanship and honorable competition.

Dolson told The Nugget that racing has been a kind of refuge for him, a community of kindred spirits that he profoundly enjoys.

“I just go out there and race and try to participate in the sport that I love,” he said. “That’s it.”

For years now, he’s turned out for race after race, striving to be the best driver he can be, seeking improvement with every race.

“I don’t need to be first,” he said, “but I love to compete.”