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Nicknames part of racing legacy at Langford’s Western Speedway

From Len ‘Digger’ O’Dell to ‘Smokin’ Joe Liberatore, drivers have long attracted monikers
In 1986, Rocky Horne became the full-time track announcer, kicking off an impressive 23-and-half-year announcing career. Rocky ‘silver tongue’ Horne coined many nicknames. (Contributed)

What would auto racing be like to fans without the nicknames attached to drivers and other members of the racing fraternity? Many of the nicknames (past and present) speak for themselves while others could be considered debatable. But you be the judge.

In some cases, their nicknames are better known than the Real McCoy.

The major leagues of auto racing have produced such household names as Dale “The Intimidator” Earnhardt, Richard “The King” Petty, Darrell “Jaws” Waltrip, “Handsome Harry” Gant, “The Rushville Rocket” Tony Stewart, and “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville,” Bill Elliott.

There was also an abundance of nicknames at Western Speedway, many of them coined by speedway track announcer Rocky “Silvertongue” Horne, who became the full-time track announcer in 1986, kicking off an impressive career spanning almost 24 years.

From the Lower Island Track Racing Association’s demos and claimers came such heavy-hitting monikers as Brian “Beefy” Baker, “Smokin” Joe Liberatore, “Dr. Death” Keith Hansen, Marty “Mcfly” Hansen, Robbie “Pig Pen” Haslam, “The Wild Thing” Jan Hansen and her son “Wild-Child” Sean Hansen, “Ready” Eddy Breuker, “Rockin” Roger Artel, “The Masked Banana” Keith Cahill, “Choice” Joyce Woodske, “Grandpa” John Aitken, and Troy “Muffin” Tarbuck.

More toned-down monikers in the stock car class include “Gentleman” Jim Steen, “Pretty Boy” Kirk Peacey, “The Island Guy” Ron Eberle, “Up Town” Cody Brown, “The Dynamite Kid” Dean Bowers, “Flyin” Brian Clutchey, and “Rockin” Robin Trotter.

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Out of the sprint car ranks emerge the Montgomery Brothers – “The Tornado” Trevor and “Hurricane” Jeff.

The old-timers provide such nicknames as Bob “Too Sexy” Exton, George “The Jet” Jensen, Jim “The Troll” Rankin, Tony “The Terminator” Spitari, “Poor” Rich Bennett, and Dan Morneau who rated both “Hollywood” and “Pretty Boy.”

The IMCA Modifieds have “Quaker” Gord Quaite and “Mornin” (upgraded from Compost) Dave Conway.

Then there’s “The Black Assassin” Don Smith and his brother the “Exterminator” Gord Smith, as well as John “Fireball” Misener, Gary “Mad Dog” Madden, “Hazzy” Roy Haslam, “Hollywood” Geoff Robinson, “The Duck” Peter Quakenbush and his little brother “The Duckling” AJ. Quakenbush, “Rude” Rick Petillion, “Bad News Bowen” Ray Bowen, “Mr Ugly” Greg Sagmoen, “Bozo” Jason Beaulieu, Tony “Macaroni” Palister, and the Price brothers “Roundy” Randy and “Pudge” Robbie.

Going back in racing history reveals such nicknames as “The Flying Plumber” Dave Cooper, Gerry “Pussycat” Sylvester, Frank “Corky” Thomas, “Thread the Needle” Billy Foster, “Wobbly” Dick Willoughby, and Len “Digger” O’Dell.

And not as far back came “The King” Gary Kershaw, “The Rebel” Art Reedy, “Pig Iron” Pete Poderenko, Larry “Whiskers” Walker, “Flying Phil” Filapovic, Ron “Country Boy” Hancock, “Awesome Bill from Cobble Hill” Bill Price, “The Iceman” Kory Gronnestad, “The Rebel” Mike Greer, “The Hamster” Guy Barret, and “Pizza” Nick Newroth.

The Speedway’s promoters over the years are also well known for their nicknames, such as Bill “Bullit” Smith, “Fatt Matt” Sahlstrom and Daryl “Little D” Crocker.

And not to be outdone is the Denomination Derby’s man of the cloth, “The Pastor of Disaster” Tim Davis and the well-known WILROC sprint car racer and track volunteer Ross Rockett. A real cool nickname you might say – but it just so happens it was his real name.

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