Dave Reside. (Photo by Katrina Leslie)

Dave Reside. (Photo by Katrina Leslie)

The Final Lap: Unsung heroes of Westshore Motorsports Park keep the wheels turning

The people behind the scenes who keep the races on the track

Katrina Leslie/Contributor

When speedway fans think about the racetrack, the names of popular and successful racers often come to mind, not the people behind the scenes.

Yet without these key players, the speedway could not run, and the races would have fallen apart long ago.

For many of these volunteers, their entire lives have been built around the racetrack through strong family ties or simply a lifelong passion for all things racing. They have seen the speedway through victories and heartbreak. Some even helped build the grandstands that house the fans every weekend during the racing season.

As the final season at the original location winds down and the last weekend looms, it feels like a wonderful time to celebrate a few of the people that keep things running smoothly under the stands and out in the pits.

Bill Munroe

Munroe has been coming to the racetrack in Langford for more than 50 years, having visited for the first time with his father in the late 1960s.

While he works primarily in the pits now, lining up the races, he built his first car when he was 15 and won his first heat race back in the 1990s.

“The guy got me a bit sideways on the second corner. It was a close race. Afterwards, I ran over and was like hey, are we cool? But yeah, that was a great race.” said Munroe reminiscing on the moment.

Along with standing in victory square, his fondest memories on the track also included driving the old CJVI 900 Radio car in 1979, being voted member of the year in 1997 and being inducted into the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame as a pioneer.

“It was such a surprise, and it meant a lot to me,” Munroe said.

Dave Reside

The bright yellow of Eagle Eye tow trucks is recognizable across the Western Communities, yet some people may not recognize its humble small business owner Dave Reside.

Reside got his start at the racetrack in 1991 when his brother and sister-in-law, along with his lifelong friend and mechanic Joe dragged him into fixing up and crewing for them on their own car.

It was also in 1991 that Joe started towing cars to and from the track for racers. Thirty-one years later and you will still find Joe out till the wee hours of the morning, helping tow cars on race nights.

Reside bought his own race car in 1992 and won the championship in 2001.

“Winning the championship is, of course, like the ultimate for racers,” said Reside, yet surprisingly it’s a different memory that he considers his fondest

“I’ve got a picture of Jimmy Steen and me on the front stretch about to go into a heat race or something, and it’s a pretty special photo. When I started, Jimmy was in stock car 34 and as far as I was concerned, Jimmy was the man! So, when I got my first Claimer in the ’90s, I went with Claimer 34, because of Jimmy, right?

“Anyway, years go by, and I ended up fixing up this old Nova with Joe. We fixed it up all winter one year and brought it out. Jimmy was still racing, so I had to change my number, but I wanted something similar and went with 43 instead of 34. Having the photo of us lined up, side by side, yeah, it’s a good photo. We’re one big family, yah know?”

Sherri Conway

Sherri Conway, like all of her fellow unsung heroes, has spent her entire life at the speedway, getting her first taste when she was still in primary school.

Conway’s brother started racing Figure 8 cars at the track when she was eight years old. She would eventually meet her husband at the racetrack, who like her brother, was also a racer.

From the age of 20 years old, Conway was heavily involved not only at the track but in various local racing organizations and clubs.

Forty-two years later, Conway is still helping out under the grandstands on the weekends and with multiple clubs throughout the year. Conway has a lifetime of heartwarming memories at the speedway and with the local racing community, but her stand-out memory actually comes from this past season.

“Daryl (Crocker) was nice enough to help me cross a big moment off my bucket list. In all my years here, I have always wanted to flag a race. So, at this year’s Daffodil Cup Daryl had me flag my club’s race. That really meant a lot to me.”

Conway is also a member of the Hall of Fame as a pioneer and was one of the first women allowed in the pits.

“This place is my second home; the best memories of my life have been out here,” said Conway.

Les Warr

Les Warr has spent 54 years at the Westshore Motorsports Park, starting his time at the track when he was 17 years old, working at a popcorn booth.

The track at that time was owned by Andy Cottyn.

“I said, Andy, I want to be where the action is. And he sent me out to the field, and I was a quarter man for a time after that.

Over his more than five-decade-long history at the track, Warr has, in his own words, done “pretty much everything now,” from general maintenance to assisting the rescue crews. He even helped build the grandstands

Out of all the things he has down for the speedway, his favourite job has been working with the fire crew, his current position, and helping flag races on the weekends. You can find Warr’s name in the Hall of Fame as a pioneer, and when pressed for a fond memory, Warr has an understandably difficult time narrowing one down.

‘“I can remember one time, I was working for Alpine, and I went there first, then came back and worked at the waterslides that were here back then, and Mr. Wille (Frank Wille) was really really thankful for that. He said, “I wish all my employees were as hardworking as you are” that was a nice moment,” said Warr.

“I’ve met a lot of people here that I’ve gotten really close with, there are just so many memories of this place that it can be hard to keep track of them all. It’s been a whole lifetime for so many of us”

Kim Ferrie

Daughter of the late great Jerry Ferrie, it is safe to say that racing and the racing community are literally a part of Ferrie’s DNA.

Ferrie plays many roles at the track, but her official title is the assistant scorer to Daryl Crocker’s wife, Bailee Midgley, who helped usher in a new era of scoring through the modern-day transponder system.

Before using the transponder system, Ferrie spent many years helping take the scores by hand.

Ferrie, like her fellow unsung heroes, struggled to narrow down a life’s worth of memories to one in particular that stood out above the rest. In the end, it was a special moment from this season that really hit home for her.

“A few weeks ago, I got an unexpected surprise from Daryl, Steve, and Bailee. There was a gentleman who had restored my dad’s old 1978 Ford Mustang. It was very emotional for me because we have my dad’s memorial race every year, and the fact that his car got brought out to parade his memorial race this year, the last year it will be here, was a very special moment for me”.

The speedway has many amazing individuals that were dedicated not only during this final season at the speedway but loyal and passionate over the decades. Crocker and the management team wanted to thank all the volunteers and dedicated employees who contributed. Time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears, you know who you are!” said Crocker.

READ MORE: Speedway stories


 

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Kim Ferrie. (Photo by Katrina Leslie)

Kim Ferrie. (Photo by Katrina Leslie)

Les Warr. (Photo by Katrina Leslie)

Les Warr. (Photo by Katrina Leslie)

Sherri Conway. (Photo by Katrina Leslie)

Sherri Conway. (Photo by Katrina Leslie)

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