Daryl Crocker and Bailee Midgley have been part of auto racing most of their life. (Photo submitted)

Daryl Crocker and Bailee Midgley have been part of auto racing most of their life. (Photo submitted)

The Final Lap: Westshore Motorsports Park – rich in history and deep family ties

A racetrack rooted in many West Shore families

Katrina Leslie/Contributor

Daryl Crocker has been the general manager at Westshore Motorsports Park for the past 10 years, but his roots to the track go so much deeper.

His first day at the track was only 11 days after his birth. Crocker’s childhood was spent either in the shop with his father and close family friends like Darrell Midgley or at racetracks across North America.

Crocker’s earliest family connection to the track dates back to his great uncle Frank Kitto. Kitto was a big part of the speedway in its early days and is a founding member of the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame. Crocker’s father has been close friends with Midgley since the 1980s, having worked and raced with him throughout Crocker’s childhood.

Crocker and Midgley’s daughter, Bailee Midgley, actually ended up getting married and are now raising their two children much the same as how they were raised, in the auto shops and racetracks of their forefathers.

Bailee pointed out that their love story is far from unique for the racing community, though. While every love story is beautiful and has its own charms, racers marrying other racers or members of the racing community seems pretty par for the course at the speedway.

“When you get a big group of people that spend so much time together with a passion for one thing, there is no room for anybody else. It’s hard for people who are not involved in the sport to understand the commitment, the time and the passion that goes into it,” Bailee said.

With a father heavily involved in the racing community and a husband in the same field, Bailee has undoubtedly seen her share of heart-stopping moments, watching her loved ones race down closed tracks at death-defying speeds. At one time, she even witnessed Crocker flip his car multiple times down the front stretch during a practice run.

Her words of wisdom for new partners grappling with their loved one’s passion for the sport were quite simple, know the people and be a part of everything leading up to the race.

“It’s so important to be involved in everything leading up to it and to have the conversations you need to have leading up to race day, knowing every single safety precaution is being taken,” she said.

Surprisingly, Bailee’s anxiety on race days is never tied to the fear of someone she loves flipping a car but instead to the potential for success or failures on the track.

“The stress that comes from watching people you love race is more in wanting them to do well and all their hard work to pay off and show on the racetrack.”

While they may not consider themselves unique in how they got together, their ability to work so cohesively is certainly worthy of other couples’ respect and admiration. It takes a strong relationship to weather the stresses of running a successful business together. The secret to their success? “We both have the same goals, we both communicate well together, and it works well because we work hard to make it work well, it doesn’t just happen, but it’s like that with everyone around here. Everyone is pulling the rope in the same direction, and we are really fortunate that we have such a great group of people working with us,” said Crocker.

So how did Crocker get his start at the track? Well, it comes as no surprise.

He followed in the footsteps of his father. He filled his life with influential men who taught him everything he could about the inner workings of race cars.

What is surprising is that he didn’t get behind the wheel until his 23rd birthday, when Bailee bought him his first car, an entry-level Hornet. Crocker would continue to run Hornet cars for a few years before graduating into stock cars.

Despite loving the adrenaline of getting behind the wheel, Crocker eventually hung up his racing gloves to focus all his time and energy on the management and promotional side of the business. This past Canada 200 was the first time Crocker has raced since 2013, getting one final go around the track before the speedway’s doors close on Sept. 17.

Like most in the racing community, Crocker and Bailee have yet to fully grasp the reality of this final season, having thrown themselves fully into the success of it instead – and what a successful season – especially the final Canada 200, which broke records in the sheer number of cars that arrived and was broadcast nationwide.

“This past Canada 200 weekend was pretty great. Seeing Daryl race and be so happy was amazing. We had barbecues and breakfasts and the parade. We pulled it all off, and it was definitely a highlight,” said Bailee.

Now, as the last weekend at the original Westshore Speedway looms on the horizon, everyone at the track continues to be laser-focused on its success.

It will be even busier than the Canada 200 weekend, with even more vehicles expected. The drivers are all eager to be part of motorsport history.

“The racing itself is going to be secondary to the main draw I think, and that’s just being here and being able to say you were here on those final two days,” Crocker said.

The final weekend on Sept. 16 and 17 is expected to be a sold-out event, with lifelong fans coming in from all over to witness the historic final races at the Westshore Motorsports Park. If you are hoping to score a seat on the grandstands, you would be wise to buy your tickets ahead of time.

While plans are actively in the works for a new speedway on the south Island, this will likely be the last time racing happens in Greater Victoria for at least two seasons. So don’t miss out. It will certainly be an emotional and historic weekend for the entire racing community.

READ MORE: Speedway stories


 

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