Thursday, January 31, 2008

article on The Treasure in the latest Old Autos

Fred Welsh's Treasure is featured in an article by Jim Ervin in the latest issue of Old Autos (January 21, 2008). Good to see this custom car recognized in a national publication. The photo I've attached is actually a model of the Treasure. Not sure who made it (and I should know). Photo taken by Phil Dauphinee.

Info on Old Autos can be found at

More of Phil's photos can be seen at

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

IMCA 1917, part two

Quickly, before the scheduled power outage.

Second part of the 1917 IMCA race results from the prairies.

July 20, 1917, Brandon, Manitoba, Provincial Exhibition, 1/2 mile (?)


--time trials--George Clark, 1:09; Fred Horey, 1:09

--free-for-all--1st, George Clark; 2nd, Fred Horey; 3rd, Chad Jewett; 4th, Floyd Willard

--Ford match--1st, Willard; 2nd, Jewett

--3 cornered--1st, Ellingboe

--Australian pursuit--1st, Ellingboe

--free-for-all handicap--1st, Floyd Willard (Prince Henry)


--Horey won two races

--Willard and Koetzla won a race each

note: that’s all the Manitoba Free Press had to say about that

July 28, 1917, Regina, Saskatchewan, exhibition, 1/2 mile (?)

event #1--3 miles--for cars of 300 cu. in. (?)--1st, Floyd Willard; 2nd, Dave Koetzla; 3rd, Bob Klein--time, 4:12

event #2--3 miles--1st, George Clark; 2nd, Dave Koetzla; 3rd, Ben Giroux; 4th, Jules Ellingboe--time, 4:06 1-4

event #3--3 miles--match race between Floyd Willard (Prince Henry) and Bob Klein (No. 7 Scat)--1st, Willard--time, 4:15

event #4--pursuit handicap--1st, Jules Ellingboe; 2nd, Fred Horey; 3rd, Ben Giroux; 4th Dave Koetzla--time, 6:52 1-2

event #5--novelty race--3 laps--1st, Ben Giroux; 2nd, Fred Horey--time of wheel change 10 seconds--new world’s record (hooray! announced by Billy Rogers who raced in Regina as far back as 1907 so it must be true)--old record 11 2-5

event #6--5 miles--free-for-all--1st, Fred Horey; 2nd, Jules Ellingboe; 3rd, George Clark; 4th, Ben Giroux--time, 6 minutes flat

August 4, 1917, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, exhibition, 1/2 mile

event #1--3 miles--1st, Dave Koetzla (Case); 2nd, Floyd Willard (Ford); 3rd, Bob Klein (Scat)--time, 4:03

event #2--3 miles--1st, Ben Giroux (Sunbeam); 2nd, George Clark (Case); 3rd, Jules Ellingboe (Briscoe); 4th, Dave Koetzla (Case)--time, 3:55

event #3--3 miles--match race--1st, Bob Klein (Fiat); 2nd, Floyd Willard--time, 4:00

event #4--Australian Pursuit Handicap--4 miles--1st, Jules Ellingboe; 2nd, Fred Horey; 3rd, Ben Giroux; 4th, Dave Koetzla--time, 6:00

event #5--novelty tire change--1st, Fred Horey, 14 3-5; 2nd, Ben Giroux, 19 1-5

event #6--free-for-all--5 miles--1st, Fred Horey (Fiat); 2nd, Jules Ellingboe (Briscoe)--no time given

event #7--mile for time--George Clark (Case), 1:08 4-5; Fred Horey (Fiat), 1:09 3-5

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

still sorting out the Thunderbird Rally

So last week my information had the fourth annual Thunderbird in 1962. But website information for RallyBC had it beginning in 1957.

Further staring at the Ubyssey newspaper that is online has the first year as 1958. Typical of most newspapers the buildup to the event is bigger than the follow up. That is, no results posted.

But if 1958 is year one then 1962 should be year five.

More research is needed. Typical....

Of interest is a clipping from 1958 about the UBCSCC racing in Washington State and looking forward to the track being developed at Pitt Meadows by the BCSCC. That must be the SCCBC but it doesn't sound like Westwood. Interesting.

Monday, January 28, 2008

waiting for the snow to end

Here's a 1970 news clipping from the Columbian. One of those rare snowfalls for the west coast provided an opportunity to load up some stock cars, slide down the access road to the speedway, give some shovels and brooms to some drivers and talk about the season to come. This particular clipping comes from the Dennis Lester collection.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

duel of the mighty midgets, part 2

The Sunday funnies continue. "Cyclone" Bill Halley? A one-legged midget racer. Wonder if this character was based on Bill Schindler, another one-legged driver from the same era?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

the winter of 1947

Over the winter of 1947 news articles appeared noting a new type of car being built for Victoria's Langford Speedway. Jack Smith built a rear-engined sprint car (big car as it was called then) for the 3/8ths mile oval. He used ideas that Ferdinand Porsche had used before the Second World War to build the Auto Union grand prix cars.

Eventually Smith's car was dubbed "the flying saucer" as that phenomenon had caught the publics fancy and the car was a silver low slung looking machine.

Howard Stanley drove the car for a couple seasons, finishing second in the points for 1947.

A second rear-engined car was built by Jack Smith for the 1949 season and driven by Vern Bruce.

The following is a story written for a manuscript on Hastings Park on Jack Smith. It really begins to list the reasons why Jack was inducted into the Canadian Motor Sport Hall of Fame:

Introducing a Man Who Needs No Introduction

Jack Smith's name had made the local papers a few times
with his good showings at Hastings Park in the previous
years. That is probably why they felt they could say he
needed no introduction. But one is probably warranted here.

Jack Smith came from Calgary. His racing history
begins early on after the barnstorming exhibitions of Barney
Oldfield and Bob Burman. An inspired 15-year-old, Jack,
with a friend, worked one summer at $7 a week, investing a
grand total of $42 into a home-built racing car.

With a Curtiss-twin engine and bicycle wheels, and
dubbing it the "Humming Kibosh", Smith got the crate towed
by a motorcycle and fired it up. A later interview by Pike
Green has this quote from Jack Smith on the episode:

"It can only be described as unfortunate that a man and
three children were strung out across the road, causing me
to take violent evasive action. The wheels collapsed and it
sat down.

"Perhaps it is just as well since it probably saved
those brave men, Bob Burman and Barney Oldfield, from
ignominious defeat on the local track."

After serving during the First World War as a pilot
officer in the Royal Flying Corps Smith came back to Calgary
to build light-weight cars. He won local championships over
the next few years.

Relocating in Victoria he continued to build race cars.
With a 72 inch wheelbase, 42 inch tread, four-cylinder Chevy
weighing in at 870 pounds Smith won races at Hastings Park
at both the June and August, 1924, meets.

The car he ran in 1926 at the Willows was probably a
modified four-cylinder Chevy with a pair of side draft
Zenith carburators, Dayton wire racing wheels, semi-elliptic
springs and a chassis slung below.

Jack Smith was introduced to the 1926 Victoria crowd as
the holder of "the coveted Silver Cup and the B.C.
Championship" for the 1926 meet to be held at The Willows
half mile. He had run in Vancouver against the "California
Dirt Track Kings" and had done well against southern
California's strong cars and drivers. He was said to have
won "every event in Alberta and Manitoba."

But it was Jack Ross, who had won at The Willows
previously in 1920, winning again in front of the Victoria
crowd of 1500. In a Dodge Special, Ross won the 3-mile
match for the B.C. Championship, the 5-mile open race and
the 15-mile free-for-all. In all he took $350 back to

Jack Smith's legacy does not end with the 1926 race.
By the late 1920s, with automobile racing in doldrums all
over the northwest, he turned to outboard motorboat racing.
He became president of the Victoria Hydroplane Club and his
boats, driven by himself or other Victoria lads, were

But Jack Smith will always be referred to as the
"Daddy" of local racing. This because he helped form and
became initial president of the B.C. Automotive Sports
Association (BCASA) which built Langford Speedway in 1936,
just outside of Victoria. That track ran nearly weekly
through its history up to 1950 (excluding the war years of
1942-45) which encouraged Victoria drivers and mechanics.
By its demise he had also started and been president of
another two clubs, the Victoria Midget Racing Association
(VMRA) and the Vancouver Island Track Roadster Association

That legacy helped build Western Speedway, near where
the old Langford Speedway had been located, and kept racing
going in a small community of Victoria that managed to field
drivers and mechanics that made their impact felt at the
Indianapolis 500.

Jack Smith needed no introduction to the Victoria
audience in 1926. He passed away in 1975. His 1992
induction to the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame let the
rest of the Victoria racing community realize how much they
owed to him.

More photos of Smith, Stanley and Bruce and the various rear-engined cars can be found at

Friday, January 25, 2008

tis the season for shows

This weekend the Vancouver Motorcycle Show is on. Check

All sorts of trade shows as well as motorsport/rod and custom shows follow. Some have lasted a long time, some have gone by the boards (as the saying goes, many shows being held in hockey arenas and similar venues). Some early shows include the spring car of 1949. Digney Speedway and the B.C. Midget Auto Racing Association had displays in that show to promote the upcoming season for both.

Unfortunately the season for A.C. Digney and the BCMARA went poorly with the two going separate ways at the midway point. But, as with all shows, no doubt an optimistic face was put on in hopes of success for the future.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thunderbird Rally

The 2008 Thunderbird Rally is scheduled to run February 9th and 10th. Originally it was part of the University of British Columbia Sports Car Club, UBCSCC, calender but now is part of the West Coast Rally Association. A list of winners is provided at:

One bit of clarification (my reason for existence!) needed is the first year of the rally. The above link says 1957. Could be. But the clipping from the UBC student newspaper, The Ubyssey, says the 1962 rally was the fourth annual. So was the first 1959?

We shall dig for more information. Out of the snow if necessary.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

IMCA 1917, part one

The International Motor Contest Association comes to the prairies in earnest. Rather than make this one long list of results I'll split it over a few weeks. So this is Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton results culled from the newspapers of the day.

July 4, 1917, Calgary, Alberta, Victoria Park, 1/2 mile

event #1--one mile--1st, George Clark; 2nd, Fred Horey; 3rd, Dave Koetzla; 4th, Ben Giroux; also ran: Bob Klein, Jay Jewett, Jules Ellinboe, Charles Hawkins, Floyd Willard--time, 1:07

event #2--prize: 1st, $200; 2nd, $100--3 miles--1st, Ellingboe; 2nd, Jewett; 3rd, Willard; 4th, Kline--time, 3:50

event #3--prize: 1st, $200; 2nd, $100--3 miles--1st, Horey; 2nd, Clark; 3rd, Giroux--time, 3:43

event #4--3 laps--novelty with tire change--1st, Koetzla--time, 2:24 1-5--tire change done in 24 1-4 seconds

event #5--five mile free-for-all (1st heat)--prize $1000--1st, Koetzla; 2nd, Horey; 3rd, Willard--time, ??

event #6--10 lap Australian handicap pursuit race--1st, Clark; 2nd, Ellingboe--time, 5:58 1-5

July 5, 1917, Calgary, Alberta, Victoria Park, 1/2 mile

--3 mile--1st, Koetzla; 2nd, Bob Klein; 3rd, Floyd Willard--time, 3:52 3-5

--3 mile free-for-all--1st, Ellingboe

--novelty tire change--1st, Ben Giroux

--mile--1st, George Clark, 1:08
2nd, Horey, 1:08 4-5
3rd, Koetzla, 1:12 3-5

--5 mile free-for-all (2nd heat)--1st, George Clark; 2nd, Jules Ellingboe; 3rd, Ben Giroux; 4th, Chad Jewett--time, 6:18 4-5

--Australian Pursuit--5 miles--1st, Clark; 2nd, Horey; 3rd, Willard

--note: fatal accident: Frederick W. Seigel of Calgary during trial run.

July 7, 1917, Red Deer, Alberta, fair ground (?), 1/2 mile (?)

--official elimination trial--1/2 mile--
Jay Jewett, 40 seconds
Bob Klein, 41
Dave Koetzla, 39
Jules Ellingboe, 38
Floyd Willard, 41
George Clark, 37 4-5
Ben Giroux, 39

--3 miles--1st, Jewett; 2nd, Willard; 3rd, Klein--time, 4:19

--3 miles--1st, Clark; 2nd, Koetzla; 3rd, Giroux--time 4:31 (in this race Clark and Koetzla were tied at the finish and raced another lap with a flying start, Clark just nosing out out Koetzla)

--novelty--tire change--Koetzla, 16 seconds

--3 mile free-for-all--1st, Clark; 2nd, Ellingboe; 3rd, Giroux--time, ??

--Australian handicap--10 laps--1st, Koetzla; 2nd, Klein--time, ??

July 13, 1917, Edmonton, Alberta, Exhibition grounds, 1/2 mile

event #1--3 miles--1st, $200; 2nd, $100--1st, Chad Jewett (Ford); 2nd, Floyd Willard (Prince Henry); 3rd, Bob Kline (Scat)--time, 4:07 1-5

event #2--3 miles--1st, $200; 2nd, $100--1st, George Clark (Case); 2nd, Floyd Willard (Prince Henry); 3rd, Horey (Fiat)--time, 3:46 3-5

event #3--novelty race--Dave Koetzla (Case) and Ben Giroux (Sunbeam) made tire changes in 18 seconds and the distance, 1 1/2 miles, in 2:13 3-5

event #4--free-for-all (1st heat)--1st, $500; 2nd, $300; 3rd, $100--1st, Fred Horey (Fiat); 2nd, Chad Hewett (Ford); 3rd, Dave Koetzla (Case); 4th, Jules Ellingboe (Briscoe)--time, 6:22

event #5--Australian Pursuit race--1st, $200--5 miles--1st, Fred Horey (Fiat); 2nd, Floyd Willard (Prince Henry); 3rd, Jules Ellingboe (Briscoe)--time, 6:15 2-5

event #6--free-for-all (2nd heat)--5 miles--1st, Floyd Willard; 2nd, George Clark (Case); 3rd, Ben Giroux (Sunbeam); 4th, Bob Kline (Scat)--time, 6:05 4-5

note: from Edmonton Journal: noted that Sloan announced the tire change time as a world’s record. “The affable official was probably kidding the populace a trifle but nobody minds a little ‘bull’ now and again.”

July 14, 1917, Edmonton, Alberta, Exhibition, 1/2 mile

event #1--matched race, 3 miles--1st, Floyd Willard; 2nd, Chad Jewett--time, 3:57

event #2--Australian Pursuit race--5 miles--1st, Dave Koetzla; 2nd, Jules Ellingboe; 3rd, Ben Giroux; 4th, Bob Kline--time, 6:20

event #3--free-for-all (final heat)--3 miles--1st, George Clark; 2nd, Fred Horey; 3rd, Floyd Willard--time, 3:33 2-5

event #4--novelty race, one mile including tire change--1st, Ben Giroux; 2nd, Dave Koetzla--time, 1:44 with tire change at 14 3-5 (a new “world’s record”?)

event #5--3 cornered match race--3 miles--1st, Ben Giroux; 2nd, Jules Ellingboe; 3rd, Dave Koetzla--time, 3:40 1-5

event #6--official world’s time trials--one mile--Floyd Willard (Prince Henry), 1:09 1-5; Fred Horey (Fiat), 1:10; George Clark (Case), 1:07 2-5--Canadian record for one mile on a half mile track is 1:07

event #7--free-for-all handicap--2 miles--1st, Fred Horey; 2nd, Chad Jewett; 3rd, Bob Kline; 4th, Floyd Willard; 5th, George Clark--time, 2:20 2-5

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

tis the season for indoor racing, part two

Another venue. Cloverdale Fairgrounds. Racing there for a number of winters. Here's an ad.

Monday, January 21, 2008

1961 vs. 1964 in the Chilliwack Progress

More recent finds:

1961 in the Chilliwack Progress was a "not much" year. A story and photo of Holly Peever, winner in the J.U. class outboard races at Deas Slough in June. She was nine years old. Mention of a race for Cultus Lake, September 10, but no info on that showed up then.

1964 was much busier.

The Tamahi Sports Touring Club had many mentions in the early part of the year. Rallies for the most part.

Even slot car racing got some press. The Chilliwack Slot Racing Club ran various races. Jerry Schmidt, whose name shows up with Tamahi, was the owner of the Hobby Shop that ran the slot car races.

The Chilliwack Custom Car Club held its 4th annual Rod and Custom Car Show at the Chilliwack Coliseum. Jim McGowan of Abbotsford won the top trophy with his 1932 Ford Roadster. People's Choice trophy went to Boots Olson of Seattle for a display of a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.

The motorcycles dominated the events for the latter half of the year. The Chilliwack fair included the bikes on the half mile track. Race was won by Dick Taylor of Kirkland, WA. Mention was made of the possibility of regular races at the fairgrounds for 1965. Not sure yet if that happened.

The Chilliwack Motorcycle Club's president was John Montie with Vic Hudson vice-president. I know Vic Hudson stuck with motorcycles for a few years from features on him in the Progress from the 1970s. He went to the Isle of Man one year.

Scrambles were held October 11th at Ryder Lake. Other clubs involved were the Greater Vancouver Motorcycle Club, Victoria Motorcycle Club, Catwalkers Burnaby, and Trail Blazers of Nanaimo.

Two quite different years.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

duel of the mighty midgets

This is the real reason I wanted to start a blog. The Sunday funnies. Beginning with three days of a 1948 King of the Mounted's story Duel of the Mighty Midgets.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The best known and best advertised driver in the world.

An excerpt from a dusty (that is, if digital stuff can collect dust) manuscript that may see print some day:

Barney Oldfield was described, in one of the local Vancouver papers at the time, as the "best known and best advertised driver in the world." It now seems a back-handed compliment but was a truthful statement at the time.

Barney Oldfield was "merely" a fast driver who had run one of the original Fords for Henry Ford in land speed attempts. He had then gone on to cross North America visiting fairs and horse tracks, like Minoru Park, demonstrating to people not fortunate enough to live in areas that might have had racing already established, what the automobile was all about. He was so well known that cops would often ask speeders that they had pulled over, “who do you think you are, Barney Oldfield?” In a special 1996 issue, 100 Years Of The Automobile In America, Motor Trend magazine presented its "13 Giants of American Motorsport". Barney Oldfield was number one.

He didn't win the Indianapolis 500, having only competed in two of the May events, or win any of the major events held in those early days of automobile racing. He did hold some land speed records set on the straight flying mile at Daytona Beach, Florida. His major influence, though, is exactly what he did at Minoru Park. He helped introduce automobile racing to places that were not the centers of the sport.

For his efforts "Barn-Storming Barney" often was barred from racing events by the official sanctioning body of American racing, the American Automobile Association.

The advertisements in the local papers for Barney's July 20, 1912, appearance were full page. Barney's mug grinned from behind the stubby stogie that was his trade mark. The hyperbole of the ad called him "the emperor of the kingdom of speed" and the "king of speed maniacs".

His racing car at that point was the Christie. In those days the cars were as amazing as the men who drove them, if not more so. The automobile was still being developed and radically modified as quickly as they wheeled around the dirt tracks of North America.

Built by Walter Christie it was a front-wheel direct drive V-4. The cylinders, according to the newspapers, were measured out at 7 3/4 inches by 8 inches which gave the engine a displacement of over 1500 cubic inches. The sound was supposedly akin to a "battery of artillery firing".

Christie, according to reports in the local papers, had told Barney he would give the cigar smoking racer six weeks "of life if you try to drive this car as fast as it will go. Why, man, if you opened it wide on a straight it would shoot you through the fence of a track so quick you would never know you had started, so powerful it is".

Oldfield had raced against the Christie a few years earlier. Barney was in a car that would show up at Minoru Park in 1913, the Blitzen Benz. On the beach of Daytona, Florida, the Christie ran the mile in 30.39 seconds, nearly 120 mph, before seizing up. Barney in the Benz ran the same distance in 28 3/5 seconds.

Two years later Oldfield bought the Christie for $750. He called it “the quickest two mile car in the world today.” Unfortunately he couldn’t get it up to speed on the Minoru mile. Earlier in the summer Oldfield had run the mile in Portland, Oregon, in just over 52 seconds, so the car was
capable of good speed.

It could be said that Barney and his team of two other drivers also introduced corporate sponsorship to the Vancouver racing public. Barney was a stockholder in the Firestone tire company, and carried on the hood of his car, "Firestone Tires, My Only Insurance".

Unfortunately, for all of the buildup and sponsorship, the Christie would not co-operate to either shoot Barney through the fence or set a "world's" record on the Minoru track. He could only get one lap up to racing speed and timed that at one minute, one and two-fifths seconds. The rest of the time the car popped and backfired.

When running properly the text of the day indicates Oldfield and the Christie were magnificent spectacles:

"On the straights Oldfield must have been making 70 miles per hour and the big low-slung red car spat flame and emitted a roar..., dashing up the straight stretch dipping like a speed boat in a ground swell, and seeming to clear yards at a single bound clear of the earth". He could have lit his cigar with that sort of flame.

When it got "sulky" the Christie belched "flames at times that almost enveloped the side of the car".

Barney didn't set a record. He didn't even win any of the races scheduled. That honour went to "Wild Bill" Fritsch in a Cino automobile built in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Fritsch also won a race, and supposedly the $100 bet that was advertised from a local Vancouver man, C.E. Winsler, in J.E. Gray's Metropolitan garage 33 horse-power Hudson. Reports had Fritsch's Cino toying with Winsler's Hudson.

Fritsch took a five mile race from fellow touring pro Lew Heineman who was driving a Prinz Henry Benz. The Benz apparently took a cue from Barney's Christie and would not perform. The win gave Fritsch the chance to go against Barney for three miles. For two of those three miles it was close until the Christie bogged down again.

Barney, frustrated with the Christie, hopped in the Benz only to find it acting up once more. Barney's legendary mechanical ability--he could take a balky motor to the starting line, hop out of the driver seat and deftly tweak something under the hood to make it run smoothly, mainly because he had detuned the car before hand--left him at Minoru Park. Reports had the magneto on both cars failing.

With that let down, the cars, with Barney Oldfield et al., headed east to Calgary and other prairie towns.

The only other problem with the Minoru race was getting all the people home to Vancouver from Lulu Island. B.C. Electric had put out special cars but with the automobile races being run after the horse races the reported crowds of anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 (depending on the newspaper) all surged home at the same time. It apparently took some people until 8 o’clock to get home. Scandalous behavior for 1912.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Alternate

Forgot to mention a link to The Alternate, a racing history newsletter/magazine. Here's the link:

arrived in the mail today

A couple interesting motorsport items with Canadian connections.

First, John Cordts' short book Blood, Sweat and Turnips.

Second, The Alternate is the beginning installment on The Emory Collins Story, as told to Earl Fabritz.

Haven't read much of either yet so I can't comment. But both hold subjects are of interest to me. Cordts from a photo way back when at a rainy Laguna Seca where he won a Can-Am race. And Emory Collins because of his growing up in Regina, SK, and his racing beginnings from there.

April 1st -- Well, that above paragraph was wrong. John Cannon won the Can-Am race back in 1968 at Laguna Seca. Not sure at the moment if Cannon ever raced at Westwood. John Cordts did as far as I know. And Cordts did race Can-Am during its heyday.

And this is no April Fool joke.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

pity the poor historian (yeah, right)

One of the first things I've found is that the history of auto racing hasn't been done very well. That is, it hasn't been done much at all. Which leads to interesting questions.

Like who won the first race at Burnaby, BC's Digney Speedway back in 1948? The race was run by the Washington Midget Racing Association. Originally scheduled for July 7, 1948 it was postponed a day because of bad weather.

So July 8, 1948 was the first race. All the local newspapers (Vancouver Sun, Province and News-Herald) had Shorty Templeman the winner (even if the Sun had his name as "Templeton" in the headline, the rest of the story and box score had his name correct).

So why did the official WMRA record have the winner of that first 40 lap feature as Bob Vorbeck? The newspapers had him second. And the record book has the date as July 7, 1948. And the place as Vancouver (not Burnaby), BC.

Big perplexing problem I know but if you just want to get it right things like this can drive you nuts. (Pity the poor person who has to listen to, or read, a so-called historian.)

One reason why Vorbeck might have been in the record book was that a report in National Speed Sport News named him the winner. (Actually incorrectly typed as "Warbeck" but correspondent Johnny Wright seems to have sent in his B.C. reports written in long hand.) NSSN might have been the source for the research done to compile the records of the WMRA. Johnny and the NSSN had the date, July 8, correct though.

When I spoke with the man who did a lot of the work compiling the WMRA record book and mentioned the Templeman issue he was quite willing to change the winner from Vorbeck to Templeman. And here I'd spent a few years wondering, and asking, if some sort of protest had been lodged and the winner changed.

Apparently not.

Then George Hespe, a member of Golden Wheels (the vintage sprint car/midget car club out of Seattle, WA), emailed what appears to be the entire program of that first race at Digney Speedway from their archives. It's dated July 8, 1948 (in pen, of course) and the time in sheet and results all correspond with what was posted in the Vancouver Sun.

So the winner, as far as I'm concerned, of the first race at Digney Speedway (Burnaby, BC, Canada), Thursday, July 8, 1948, is Shorty Templeman.

And why does this matter? Well, at one point another driver was closing in on Shorty's all-time career win record and I figured Shorty deserved one more win just to make it a passing of the true benchmark. Well, that guy went past Shorty's number by a large margin so one more win wouldn't have made all that much a difference in that situation.

But the WMRA record should be changed. And I guess this post is the first case made to change it. It only took me close to ten years to get to this point on a 60 year old race.

History seems to have nothing but time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

research further afield (the fields of Winnipeg)

One thing leads to another. And finding an International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) race in Vancouver, BC, at Hastings Park in 1920, as well as wire reports from the prairies, got me looking beyond the Vancouver newspapers to the prairie newspapers. Lots of races from 1915 through to, well, the mid-1920s and later.

It's been said that the IMCA ran racing in North America 364 days a year. The 365th day was the Indianapolis 500, sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA).

I'm going to post yearly reports of these races, hopefully once a week. Just to get started here's an ad from the Winnipeg Tribune for an early pair of 1915 IMCA races. The promoter was J. Alex Sloan, known to the Winnipeg population as a promoter of a fun fair named "Happyland". It doesn't appear that Louis Disbrow did attend but drivers like Eddie Hearne and Tommy Milton went on to be well known in the AAA.

Here's the box score cobbled from the Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Tribune:

Friday, July 9, 1915, Winnipeg, MB, exhibition grounds, 1/2 mile

--time trials--Eddie Hearne, 38

--3 miles--300 cubic inches--1st, Wild Bill Endicott

--novelty race--tire change--1st, Tommy Milton (Zip)

--mile--Eddie Hearne (Jay Eye See), 1:17 2-5; Johnny Raimey (Case Comet), 1:13 4-5 (track record is 1:13 1-5)

--5 mile Australian pursuit--1st, Raimey

--3 mile--free-for-all--final--Eddie Hearne

Saturday, July 10, 1915, Winnipeg, MB, exhibition grounds, 1/2 mile

--postponed, rain

Monday, July 12, 1915, Winnipeg, MB, exhibition grounds, 1/2 mile

--mile--Johnny Raimey--1:13 1-5 (ties track record)

--3 mile match race--1st, “Wild Bill” Endicott (Belgian Scat); 2nd, Kizer (Mercer)--$250 to winner--ten second handicap start for Kizer

--novelty tire change--Eddie Hearne--16 1-5 seconds (3 2-5 slower than world’s record)

--free for all--final heat--1st, Johnny Raimey; 2nd, Eddie Hearne--winner, $300

--free for all handicap--1st, Milton

--other participants: Kizer (Mercer); Le Cocq (Bullet); Endicott (Scat); Milton (Zip); Hearne (Case); Raimey (Case)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

tis the season for indoor racing

Let's see: heavy rain, followed by heavy winds, followed by freezing temperature. Must the be season for indoor racing. Motorcycles did it most often. At the Agrodome and the Cloverdale Fairgrounds mostly. Some indoor foreign stocks as well. Again at the Agrodome as well as at B.C. Place Stadium. Probably other places as well.

An ad from the early 1960s:

Of course there was always outdoor scrambles during the lousy months of the year. Let's see: rain, wind, freezing. Who's idea was that?

Monday, January 14, 2008

recent microfilm morgue find

Tom Johnston's terrific book Sports Car Road Racing in Western Canada has a chapter entitled "Legends and Mysteries". One legend/mystery was an entry in Pit Pass, the Sports Car Club of B.C.'s newsletter, about a team event to be held at the Chilliwack Fairgrounds, and sponsored by the Tamahi Sports Touring Club. The event was scheduled for August 17, 1963 and Tom noted no evidence or results had been produced that proved the event actually occurred.

Until now.

From the Chilliwack Progress, Wednesday, August 21, 1963:

Interesting to note the name "T. Burgess" of the University of British Columbia Sports Car Club as being an entrant. Tom Burgess went on to quite a rally career in Canada and was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1998.

For those interested in more Western Canadian history go to
for info on Tom Johnston's book.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

first post for an old friend

Don Radbruch's passing at the beginning of this year got me to thinking I better get something started on all this racing history I've been accumulating. So as a first post, here is a tribute to Don:

Don Radbruch -- racer and racing historian -- RIP

Don Radbruch passed away January 1, 2008 after a long battle with cancer. Don began as a fan of auto racing, then became a racer himself and finally a writer of auto racing history. A veteran of the Second World War he came back to his boyhood love: auto racing. He drove big cars (now known as sprint cars), midgets, track roadsters and even sports cars from the 1950s to the 1960s. He was 1951 American Speed Association (later known as the Northern Auto Racing Club) points champion.

His writing about motorsport also went back to the 1950s as he wrote various articles for Speed Age magazine. In recent decades Don contributed many historical articles and photos for The Alternate, Vintage Oval Racing, many newsletters and online websites, as well as a regular column for the weekly newspaper National Speed Sport News.

Originally from the San Francisco bay area of California Don lived his final years in Idaho with wife Naida. From that location he made world-wide contacts, first through the old-fashioned snail mail and telephone way and then via the internet. He had friends in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand and no doubt even further afield than that.

He almost raced once in Canada but the required posting of a bond to get his racer across the border stopped him. In 1950 Don didn't have that sort of cash so he left his track roadster at a garage south of the 49th parallel and went up to Burnaby, BC to watch the races at Digney Speedway.

He would include Digney in his first Roaring Roadsters book and in the subsequent volume on the track roadsters more Canadian information, plus nations all around the world, was included. His international approach carried on to a book on Model T racing and his Dirt Track Auto Racing history of racing between the First and Second World Wars.

One of Don Radbruch's legacies was his unwavering love of auto racing from that early era -- let's just say most things past 1960 didn't grab him all that much. His focus unearthed new information as well as confirming or putting to rest as not being factual old stories. But he loved the good stories auto racing gave us and loved passing them on to others.

His enthusiasm will be missed. Rest in peace Don.

mission statement

So what is it I'm trying to accomplish?

What seems like a helluva long time ago I started working on a supposed history of auto racing in the Greater Vancouver, BC area. It started with four tracks myself, and a friend, were aware of: Digney Speedway, False Creek Speedway, Haney Speedway and Langley Speedway. We thought they followed one after the other but that wasn't quite correct. And the further I researched -- he went back to spending time and a lot of money on a race car, I stuck with time and a little less money on research -- the more I realized the less I knew about this area and the areas that came in contact with this area vis a vis auto racing.

The book we were supposed to write unfortunately hasn't materialized yet although some information has seen print. Along the way I've met some people with a greater zest for racing history than I have. Plus they had a greater knowledge as they'd lived it. They've helped me carry on and even though some have passed on to what in older times was called "the golden speedway" the momentum of finding things I never knew about keeps me going.

So from those four speedways that operated from 1948 to 1984 there was lots of other things going on both before and after as well as at the same time in other forms of racing.

And that's what this blog is going to be all about Charlie Brown.

Hopefully daily but at least once or twice a week. And hopefully having some fun with it as well as trying to get the history right.

(If you want to comment hopefully it's an easy process. Click the anonymous button, say your peace on me doing right or wrong, sign it or don't, then hit preview or publish (definitely publish when your happy) and I'll get a message (I hope) and read it. And then run it. Guess that makes me the editor here. I kinda like that. And I kinda hope you like what I'm trying to do. Let me know.)