Vail services set for "Sonny’ Caster

Cliff Thompson
Sonny Caster and Roger Griffith on the Bonneville Salt Flats while pursuing a land speed record.

Granvel Byron “Sonny” Caster II, 64, died Aug. 4 at his home in Vail after a short illness.

Caster is remembered by friend and land-speed racing teammate Roger Griffith as a man who had a good word for everyone. Many may know him as the longtime owner of the West Vail Conoco.

“He helped a lot of people in the Valley, buying homes and with businesses. We’ll never know how much that happened,” Griffith said. “He was a great businessman.”

Two celebrations of Caster’s life will be held. The first will be from noon until 3 p.m, Saturday, at the family home in Vail. The second will be held in Santa Barbara, Calif., Oct. 25, at the Calvary Cemetery. His ashes will be distributed in Santa Barbara Harbor.

Caster owned the West Vail Conoco for 26 years after moving here from the Santa Barbara area where he also owned several gas stations.

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One of his passions was trying to establish the world land speed record in the A Production class and he came within a whisker of breaking the 225 mile-per-hour record. He hit 223.8 miles per-hour in a 950 horsepower 1971 Camaro on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

“The auto racing world is shocked,” Griffith said. “He knew everybody. He was a great partner and a good friend.”

Caster is survived by Mary, his wife of 33 years; daughter Michelle Caster of Denver; son Ron Caster of Boca Raton, Fla.; sisters, Mariene Casarez of Eugene, Ore., and Kathleen Hicks of Santa Barbara; and his mother, Madeline Caster of Santa Barbara.

Caster graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1957 and attended Santa Barbara City College. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton with the Marine Corp Reserves.

He was a member of the Santa Barbara Trail Riders, the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge and Duster’s Car Club. He was also a member of the BNI International. He also enjoyed hunting, fishing and spending time with his family.

The family is suggesting memorial contributions be made to the American Cancer Society, Colorado Division, 2255 South Oneida, Denver, Colo. 80224.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 970-949-0555 x450 or

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