Auto racing and local history buffs alike are invited to Western Speedway on Saturday (April 16) as the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame and Museum inducts its class of 2016.
This year’s group includes people whose strong suit was organization, and those who did their thing best on the track and in the pits.
Individual inductees for 2016 are former track operator Butch Behn, twin brothers Tracy and Terry Cessford, and Gerry Flesh. The Alpine Group, Gary Haskell and Derick Stafford enter the Hall in the pioneers category.
“They were just dedicated to auto racing and grew within the sport and the organization,” Norm Wilcox, a board member with the Hall of Fame, said of the inductees.
Whether drivers, crew members or builders, people involved with racing at Western Speedway made the experience bittersweet at times for visiting teams, he added.
“People love to come here to race, even though they knew they were going to get their butts kicked.”
Butch Behn — Behn’s connections with Western Speedway were impactful, to say the least. He began as a team owner, sponsoring such talented drivers (and future Hall of Famers) as Larry Pollard and Rick O’Dell.
His leadership was evident, and in 1986 he took over the operation of and promotion for the race track. He was keen to spotlight various types of entertainment and in 1995 staged a track record 49 different events, with 33 of those involving racing on the 4/10-mile oval and many others involving drag racing and specialty shows.
He spearheaded a major renovation of the track facility in 1989 that saw major sections of the racing surface rebuilt. A few years later, areas of the grandstand and the backstretch were upgraded, using largely volunteer labour and donated equipment, with outstanding costs often covered by Behn’s company.
Behn wanted to own a track and in 1995 bought South Sound Speedway, south of Olympia, Wash. He moved there with his family there after the 1997 season at Western Speedway.
He was named to the Hall of Fame as a pioneer in 2010.
Tracy and Terry Cessford — The Cessford brothers, whose team became known simply as TNT Racing, got involved in racing at Western in 1978 at the tender age of 15, first crewing for older brother Dan then building their own cars for the demo and jalopy classes.
Tracy did most of the driving, with Terry acting as crew chief through the early 1980s. As they gained more experience, they moved up the racing ladder, competing successfully in the hobby stock, stock cars and super stock classes, as well as the IMCA modified.
They were later mainstays in the Old Time Racers Association class, and for a time raced the Sportsmen’s class, but have always been involved at the track in one way or another. Terry Cessford will be inducted posthumously.
Gerry Flesh — This mid-Islander cut his racing teeth at Grandview Bowl in Nanaimo in the 1970s, helping out in his teens as a corner man and flagman. He found his way into the pits and crewed initially for the likes of Dave Johnson and Rob Davies, but also drove his own cars through the years, focusing mainly on modifieds.
His talents as a crew member began a relationship with Lance Wade Racing in the late 1980s that saw Wade tackle the Winston West Series in the 90’s and more recently in the Wilroc Lites Sprint Cars, a division he continues to be a part of today.
Public invited to share in celebration
Saturday’s inductee event gets underway at 1 p.m. under the grandstands, with presentations happening at 2:30. Admission is $10 and a light lunch will be served.