The photographs are everywhere. Cars, drivers and race scenes cover the walls of Al Clark’s modified house garage in Fairfield.
Born in England, Clark was raised in Victoria since the age of three, and started drag racing in 1962, his last year of high school.
The car was owned by the Quarter Miler’s Club of Victoria, though there was no drag strip in town. His first real race was on an airplane runway in Arlington, Wash., which the airport used to shut down every couple of weeks for racing.
“I did pretty good with that car, had some pretty successful days. We raced in Arlington for years.”
Clark eventually bought the dragster from the Quarter Miler’s in 1966 and kept on winning races, rotating between Mill Bay’s Van Isle Dragway (1967-72), Mission City and San Cobble, which was the private road used to haul limestone from a quarry near Bamberton.
“I kept improving it and it got faster and faster.”
Throughout his 12-year racing career Clark raced in a few other dragsters, but his last race on the straightaways was in ’74, the same year he sold the car.
And so it’s as a drag racer that Clark goes into the Greater Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame’s class of 2012. He’ll be inducted during Saturday night’s (April 28) banquet at the Eagle Ridge Community Centre in Langford.
Clark is being inducted along with stock-car racers Tim Christy and Gordie Alberg, and pioneers Harold Corbett, Mark Meeres and Barbara Prettie.
“You look back at the people who came from Victoria: Billy Foster, the first Canadian to race in Nascar, and Grant King, who built Indy cars in Indianapolis.
“It means a lot (to be in the hall with them) and all the great (circle-track) racers. And me being only the second drag racer inducted after Burt Sweeting (2011),” Clark said.
Nowadays Clark is known for his work with 1932 Fords, reproducing them, repairing them, and organizing Victoria’s popular Deuce Days event.
“Deuce Days draws far and wide. I’ve got long-distance owners wanting to pre-register.”
The seventh Deuce Days festival is set for July 2013, and will draw about 900 coupes and various classics to the Inner Harbour of Victoria. About 450 of those will be the classic ’32s, or deuces, that the festival is named after.