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Trunkload of Island talent headed into Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame

Inductees this year span decades of commitment to the sport
A sell-out crowd celebrates the final demo race at Westshore Motorsports Park in Langford on Sept. 10, 2022. (Black Press Media file photo)

The last laps have spun at the local racetrack, but the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame carries the flame with new inductees coming during an April event.

The new inductees include the racing pioneering Currier brothers; a Cowichan business committed to the sport for more than three decades; a racer who started his career on a dirt track in Cobble Hill; and a racer who grew up at the track and joins his dad and brother in the Hall.

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The Currier Brothers are inducted into the Hall of Fame as pioneers of the sport.

According to the racing Hall of Fame, the eldest brother Mike started racing in 1958, working on cars driven by Wall Lum, two of his brothers and Ronnie Hancock.

By 1963, all the Currier brothers were involved – John, Bill, Pat and Mike.

At one point, John and Pat were on one car – the Daffodil Stomper – and Mike was on another – the Tulip Twister.

John and Bill were well known through driving stock cars, figure 8s and later Old Timers. Mike and Pat both worked on the back gate. Bill, Pat and Mike were all involved as assistant pit bosses through the years. Away from the track, they were involved in the Vancouver Island Track Racing Association (VITRA) and its executive. Mike was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. Although John remains in Victoria, Bill moved to the Kootenays where he was involved in the Cranbrook track, Pat moved to Kelowna and Mike is now in Oliver.

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Also inducted this year as a pioneer is Chuck Gust’s Mid Island Engine and Machine Ltd.

The Duncan shop owned by Chuck Gust has been helping the racing community for more than 30 years.

As one of the few shops with a dyno machine – used to tune a vehicle with specific horsepower, torque and other factors in mind – the folks in that shop have dynoed many race engines on the Island and mainland.

The shop also works on domestic, import, industrial, marine and their own race engines.

Inductee Don Cummins started racing in 1954 at the age of 10 on the dirt track in Cobble Hill, according to Hall of Fame records.

After racing there, he would go to the Western Speedway with Reg Midgley to watch stock car racing with drivers such as Dick Wilouby, Dick Varley, Dave Cooper, Gerry Sylvester and Ray Pottinger.

In 1963 Cummins and classmate Ross Surgenor and Cummins heard anyone who wanted to race could just bring a car with a seatbelt and no windows. In a class at Mt. View High School, the pair decided to give it a shot, and bought a ’38 Buick from a friend’s mom – each paid $15 – and dragged it back to Cummins’ dad’s farm.

The car was mint and ran great, they painted it red and put No. 17 on it.

They joined the Vancouver Island Track Racing Association (VITRA) and finished second in points but the car was pretty rough by the end of the year.

In 1966 a split between the speedway and VITRA saw some drivers race in Nanaimo, where Cummins finished first in points and held the track record.

In 1967 Cummins became president of VITRA and was back at Western Speedway working to get racing back on track. He raced the No. 1 car and was voted member of the year.

In 1968 Cummins married and VITRA members bought him tickets to the Indianapolis 500 as a gift, later that year he retired from racing to focus and family and work.

Over his career, he would race Evergreen (Washington State), Yakima, Haney Vancouver, Langley and Penticton.

Western Speedway rolls from the season-opening Night of Mayhem in Langford. (File photo courtesy Western Speedway)

Inductee Jeff Montgomery joins his dad Neil and brother Trevor in the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame.

Jeff Montgomery told the Hall of Fame team that the sport has given him relationships with the veterans he watched and learned from in his younger years; the kids he grew up with that he still calls friends today; and others through his career who share the passion of racing.

The pursuit of speed has been a part of Montgomery’s life since before he was old enough to sit behind the wheel. He grew up at the track in the ’70s and ‘80s watching his dad, the late Neil Montgomery, race. As a child, Jeff remembers the good times running around the grandstands cheering on his favourite drivers.

Jeff’s career started with racing BMX bikes in 1982 before competing with Team Canada in ’86. In 1987 he got behind the wheel of an enduro car and won the $1,000 prize.

It sparked a passion for racing.

in 1990-91 he ran in the claimer division with a few wins. The 1992-93 season saw Montgomery driving a stock car owned by Marty Block and Ron Simpson at Western Speedway. For the 1994 season, Montgomery bought his own stock car that he ran on the dirt at Cassidy Speedway. The following year, he ran the Russ Lejuene and Neil Montgomery spring car at Cassidy.

Jeff Montgomery climbs out of his car after winning Strawberry Cup at the Western Speedway in Langford. (Photo by Don Laidlaw, Wildlight Motorsports Photography)

During the mid-1990s, Montgomery raced a stock car at Western Speedway. In 1998 his first real break came when he was asked to drive the No. 11 thunder car owned by Rocky Horne; it was the year he got the nickname The Hurricane. Montgomery drove the No. 33 sportsman car for Horne in 1999 and 2000.

His first sprint race was the 2001 Strawberry Cup and ended in a wreck destroying the car, which was repaired in time for that year’s Daffodil Cup in 2001. The next year he raced Horne’s No. 33 sprint car and continued to race that car under new owner Jeff McLeod through 2006.

Montgomery and team had many accomplishments during the years but one of the most memorable moments was his first time winning the prestigious Daffodil Cup in 2004.

Another highlight a few years later was when the team ran its first year in the NSRA and won the overall championship.

In 2007, he began driving for his dad and two years later Neil Montgomery Motorsports built a new 33J car with A&A Performance that was run until the end of the 2019 season when Jeff Montgomery retired.

In 2023 he came out of retirement.

When Gerry Vantreight asked him to drive his sprint car, Montgomery found it an opportunity to share his love of racing with with grandson Beck.

The Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set for April 13 at Elements Casino.

Doors open at 1 p.m. with the program beginning at 2 p.m.

Reserve tickets, $60 each, by responding to George Jenson’s post on the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame Facebook page.

About the Author: Goldstream News Gazette Staff

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