By Dale Calnan – OntarioOval.com – Prince Edward County, located in Eastern Ontario, doesn’t have a race track in operation, but is definitely one of the major hotbeds of racing in the province. “The County” is almost completely surrounded by water and is therefore a big summer holiday destination for many folks from Ontario and Quebec.
At one time in the 50’s there were races held at the County Fairgrounds in Picton (the largest town in Prince Edward) on the ½ mile track on the east side of town. However, with the construction of a new hospital on nearby property in 1959 and the placement of an arena in the infield, regular racing faded from the scene. A few visits in the early 60’s by the ‘Hell Drivers’ and some snowmobile racing events in the early 70’s kept motorsport activities alive to some degree. Nowadays the fall fair (always held the weekend after Labour Day) usually holds tractor pulls and a demo derby in front of the recently revitalized original grandstand.
In the 70-80’s there were two amazing kart racing facilities in the nearby townships. Picton Kartway was located just west of Demorestville in the north part of the County. It ran races and rentals until the owner suddenly passed away. Cape Vessey Motorsport Park was located in the south east area near what is known to locals as either Waupoos or Cressy. This latter track, if memory serves me was the same design layout as one of Europes famous road racing venues. I want to say Lemans, but I could stand to be corrected on this. It closed after neighbours and the track got into a dispute over local bylaws and noise concerns.
The primary form of racing the County was best known for was boat racing. Starting in the 30’s and 40’s it was popular attraction and continued in some capacity well into the 70’s. The main trophy to be contested was the Harmsworth Trophy and Prince Edward Gold Cup. By far the most important feat was achieved by Bob Hayward driving Miss Supertest III to a world speed record for racing on water. A historical plaque overlooks Hayward Long Reach where the driver and boat accomplished this feat. The name Hayward was added to Long Reach in memory of the driver who was killed shortly after the record was set at a race on the Detroit River.
Some interesting links regarding Bob Hayward and the Gold Cup races can be found here:
Today there are many drivers from Prince Edward who continue to carry on in the sport of racing. Here is a look at some of them in the various forms and classes of oval track racing.
Today the best spot to head if you are interested in racing news in and around the County is Mark’s Barber Shop located on Main Street in Picton across the street from Metro Grocery. Mark tells me when he was just a young lad sitting in a chair at a local barbershop, he thought barbering was something he would love to do. Well, after driving transport trucks for more than 30 years, the miles were getting longer and sitting in one spot seemed more and more appealing. Around five years ago Mark took his training as a barber and set up shop. He has been at his current location for over four years.
The shop walls are covered with pictures of mostly three things: trucks, bikes and local race cars. Mark, himself an avid biker, found a unique place to store his Harley in the winter… right beside one of the barber chairs. The other great part of getting a trim (which are pitstop fast) is the good chance you can hear the proprietor playing a tune on his guitar.
Hats off to Mark for his support of local racers… What am I saying? You won’t need a hat after you visit Mark anyway!