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Compiled by Steve Breazeale
The Friends of San Clemente Foundation’s Sports Wall of Fame will add three new members to its impressive list of local luminaries next month.
The Foundation announced this week that off-road racing champion Johnny Campbell, Olympic gold medalist Gabe Gardner and pioneering surfboard shaper Bill Stewart will be inducted into the Wall of Fame.
This year’s induction ceremony, which will take place at the Vista Hermosa Aquatics Center on May 20, will be the foundation’s fifth since starting the Wall of Fame in 2013. The 2017 class will round out the Wall of Fame inductees up to an even number of 20.
Campbell, who graduated from San Clemente High School in 1989, is the winningest motorcycle racer in the history of the SCORE Baja 1,000, having won the event in his discipline 11 times in 16 tries. Campbell also completed the Paris-Dakar Rally, a race that spans about three weeks and takes competitors across Europe and Northern Africa, four times.
Campbell went on to become a successful racing team manager for the JCR/Honda Team, which won multiple SCORE and American Motorcyclist Association titles and X-Games gold medals under his watch.
Two-time Olympic athlete and gold medalist Gabe Gardner began playing volleyball in San Clemente at Shorecliffs Middle School. He continued playing the sport at SCHS and was a three-sport standout as the goalie for the water polo team and a member of the basketball squad. He was named Orange County Athletic Director’s Athlete of the Year his senior year.
Gardner went on to play for Stanford University and simultaneously earned a spot on the United States Men’s Indoor National Team. Gardner played for the U.S. in the Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) Olympic Games, where Team USA captured gold.
Bill Stewart helped change the surfboard shaping world with his innovations, and his shop on South El Camino Real, Stewart Surfboards, remains a landmark in the community.
Stewart’s most impactful creation was the beveled rail, two-and-one fin configuration on his high-performance longboard. He has also created a four-man surfboard, a variety of wakeboards, tow boards and even snowboards.
Stewart is also an artist and became famous for being among the first local shapers to airbrush his work onto his boards.