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Back In The Day: History Of Racing Not Always Black & White

Back In The Day: History Of Racing Not Always Black & White

By Randy Spencer / OntarioOval.com – History… it intrigues us all. Celebrating and educating you is my goal with my ‘Back In The Day’ column. Writing about history offers many different challenges. People have said to me, it must be easy to write about racing history, but in my research for my column and for the book I wrote on the Galt Hornets a few years ago, it is far from the truth.

The internet, with it’s vast amount of information, has it’s pros and cons when researching for a story, and even though it’s right there in “Black and White”, it is in many cases the writer’s take on the events of the day or maybe an opinion, not necessarily the complete story. I’ve had several instances lately in which I quoted events to my interviewees only to find it was not the way that they remembered it.  Unfortunately, many who have made racing what it is today, have passed on and for others, the memories of days gone by have faded.  Another challenge I’ve faced is just about everything I want to write about has been written, in many cases, several times. Sometimes it’s difficult to slightly change the wording as to not plagiarize and change the meaning of actual events. Like many of you, the majority of what I have and will write about is events or people I knew previously, only by name.

Fortunately for me, so many people have helped out so far by way of emails or with phone numbers. Some of the names and numbers being passed along are going to make amazing reading. A few people that I’ve met through Facebook have been a wealth of information. Many thanks to Joe Hutton, Doug and Rick Warnes and Nate Salter. Nate, who wrote the book, “The Golden Years of Stock Car Racing in Toronto 1951-1966 , and has been around racing ovals since 1952. If you haven’t read his book and would like a copy, please contact me and I ll put you in touch with ‘Honest’ Nate himself. I met with Nate recently and he graciously agreed to loan me 10 videos he took in the mid ’90s researching for his book. Many of the legends of racing back in the day are included like Wallie Branston, Ross Howes, Warren Coniam, Don Fleming and others. I will be writing a series on these ten individuals over the next few months and I know you will really enjoy the  stories. One guy I’m really looking forward to interviewing personally is Jimmy Howard.

And the upcoming 2011 race season will be one to remember and will make memories that we will all be able to cherish forever. Several tracks are celebrating anniversaries, Merrittville and Delaware are celebrating their 60th year and Flamboro and Capital City are celebrating their 50th year. 

All the tracks will be celebrating throughout the year and I’m especially looking forward to Memorial Night at Flamboro Speedway August 20th, where I will be able to meet so many of the racers from the past 50 years. So keep watch for my series of stories on the Legends of Racing and track histories as well. The first story on a racing legend will be on Doug Warnes and his racing family. Doug started racing at the C.N.E. way back in 1955 and I met with him and son Rick recently, it was a lot of fun. The first track story will be on Capital City and the racing history of the Ottawa region. I wrote it last year, but have done some more research and spruced it up.

Make sure to plan to attend and celebrate our racing heritage this summer and OntarioOval.com will be on top of all the action all season long and take a walk down memory lane and reminisce with me about racing ‘Back In The Day’.

Randy Spencer – Writer/Historian
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