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Racing an itch Hall of Fame driver Roy Haslam still feels
It took 40 years to lose the “itch,” but Roy Haslam created a life away from the race track.
It wasn’t long into his second life, when one of Haslam’s sons, who also races, offered up his race car to dad, who was there to watch.
“It was all prepped and ready for me to take one more spin around Western Speedway,” said the former racing great. “I said ‘no way.’ It was only a few years ago and I told him, ‘if I get into that car, the itch will start all over again.’”
The 66-year-old hasn’t raced competitively since the 1990s. His accomplishments as a super stock driver, open wheel and off-road made him an automatic for the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 1999. This weekend Haslam’s success transcends auto racing, as he joins the 2012 class of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
He’s one of the few motorsports men to do so, as he enters with a list of national-level athletes and legendary builders. All will be celebrated at the annual banquet, Saturday night in the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence. (See list below.)
It’s a return to the glory years of racing for Haslam, though he isn’t a stranger to the race track these days either. His sons Mike, 41, and Robbie, 42, continue racing. Mike in the K & N series and super late model stock cars, and Robbie in a sprint car.
Today Roy is a shop foreman at the Alpine Group’s Langford facility, where he’s been for 17 years. He still uses some of the skills he honed at the speedway in 1961, when Roy joined the crew on a car owned by his dad Jim.
“I think they let me hold a rag, wipe the wheels,” Roy chuckles.
More and more often though, Roy held a wrench, and it didn’t take long to learn his way around. By 1965, at 19-years-old, he got his own jalopy (stock’s predecessor), a ’49 Ford. In 1967, he was approached to drive a car owned by Harvey Chipper, and became that year’s points champion.
“It was different then. You made your own parts. You could buy some stuff, but now it’s all bought,” he recalled.
By the 1970s, he and his crew were traveling to one race after another in Washington, Oregon and California, and working on the car when they got there.
“We were weekend racers, back by Monday morning. We all had jobs to be at. We slept in the truck at the ferry terminal, or sometimes threw our sleeping bag down in the bushes.”
There were long hauls, too, regular jaunts out to Illinois and Minnesota.
“Now in life, I’ve been going back and looking at places I raced. I’m smelling the roses, so to speak,” he said.
“I can tell you what the local restaurants looked like, but we’d be at the race track all day and leave at midnight without really knowing what the place was like.”
The mobile crew continued their travels into the 1980s until Haslam finally quit in the 1990s.
“I’ve been married 16 years (to my wife), kind of my second life, and the race track isn’t running my life anymore,” Roy said.
“Not that I would change anything. The camaraderie with all the drivers, you can’t beat it. Getting in and driving something you and your crew worked so hard on, you have a smile on your face, even on the bad days.”
Roy’s parents Jim and Lorraine entered the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1985 and 1996, respectively, and his ex-wife, Angie, was also inducted in 2000. Jim was part of Langford Speedway in the 1940s and helped found Western Speedway in 1954. And now the next generation of Haslams haunt the track, Roy’s granddaughters, seven-year-old cousins Courtenay and Peyton.
Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame 2012 Inductees
GVSHOF induction ceremonies and dinner, Oct. 27 at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.
Alan Wills – Athlete (Archery) Canadian Archery Champion in 1980 and an exemplary, long standing career as competitor, coach, judge and member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Canadian Archers for the past forty years.
Roy Haslam – Athlete (Auto Racing) Haslam won dozens of championships throughout the 70s and 80s in the Super Stock series including the I.D.C. Championship (Open SS) in 1978 when he was named winning driver of the year.
Tracie McAra – Athlete (Basketball) McAra helped the Vikettes to three CIAU Championship titles in 1980, ‘81 and ‘82. She was named CIAU First Team all-Canadian in 1982-83 and she played for the Canadian National Team for 6 years. She also played in the ‘84 Olympics
Whitey Severson and Archie Browning – Athletes (Lacrosse) The duo of Archie Browning and Whitey Severson played for the Victoria Shamrocks in the 1950s and they were often referred to as the "Gold Dust Twins" for their blond hair.
Gorge Hotel (1954 – 59) –Team (Softball) Beginning in 1954, the legendary Joe Bryant led the Gorge Hotel men to a then-record six straight B.C. championships.
Joe Iannarelli - Builder. From a career playing pro hockey during the 40s and 50s to a three decades long contributor to local sports at the Archie Browning Arena, Iannarelli had a positive impact on dozens of young skaters who went on to careers in the NHL.
George Jones – Builder. Jones has made significant contributions to the local rugby scene for more than forty years. He was a founder of the Braefoot Athletic Centre Association and he was founding member of the Victoria Commonwealth Games Society, as well as being an ongoing influence with Velox Rugby Club and the local rugby scene.