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Four Unique Canadian Racing Cars: Victoria, British Columbia

The four racing car photos contained in this feature are the most interesting of a series of undated pictures of cars and drivers that raced at a track in the Victoria, British Columbia area. The unique mid-engined car in the lead image features a side-to-side mounted engine, chain drive to the rear wheels and is similar in construction to the pre-war Auto-Union racing machines.

Please share with us what you find of interest in these photographs courtesy of the Royal BC Museum.

  • “Uncle” Bob Wensley’s car features a Dodge with a 16-valve Roof OHV head, a huge set of side draft carburetors, and a reversed scrolled front spring. 

  • A pair Gilmore sponsored machines with the lower car powered by a Ford “A”, “B” or “C” engine with a SOHC conversion head. 

17 responses to “Four Unique Canadian Racing Cars: Victoria, British Columbia

  1. Interesting that the two Gilmore cars have the brake lever on the right side next to or right behind the exhaust…Hot! Hot! Hot!
    The 16 valve car has a huge pressure pump for the fuel; one pump per lap?

  2. The mid-engine car in photo 1 appears to be transverse mounted and chain driven.
    The other three appear to have the same make frame rails and Ford axles.

  3. Bob Wensley was active in racing at least in the late 1930s, and introduced go-karts to the area in the late 1950s, based on Times Colonist articles. In 1947 Bob Simpson bought a race car with a Dodge engine and Laurel head from Wensley and Charlie Flitton. Other than that, I’m not having much luck finding anything on any of these.

  4. Appears to be a 1930s Dodge Emblem on the lead car’s Rad Shell. Also you can ‘see’ the right side of the Dodge “Wing” on the hood by the circular vent on the hood.

  5. The first picture of the midengined car may be the Jack Smith built car known colloquially as “the Flying Saucer” driven by Howard Stanley.

    Although I think it is more likely the second of the Jack Smith Auto Union inspired cars which was owned by Bruce Passmore and driven by ? at Langford Speedway since Bruce Passmore purchased Langford Speedway prior to the 1947 season and operated Langford through 1950. Passmore drove other cars he owned at tracks he apparently did not own in the same time frame.

    Passmore was also reportedly among the first to sell new import Volkswagens from his dealership “Speedway Motors” in 1953.

    • Apparently I posted too soon, as apparently there were at least three of this type car in the Victoria BC area in this time period. I made the mistake of thinking one of the two Jack Smith built cars had been extensively modified to produce what is seen here.

      I now think that the car in the first picture is the one which was built by Mike Hitchcox but which was clearly inspired by the two previously mentioned cars built by Jack Smith. The car Hitchcox built was reportedly a chain driven sidewinder as is the car in the picture. Unfortunately I don’t have any additional information or another picture of the Hitchcox car yet.

  6. Any idea what engine is in the mid-engine car? I wonder if it exists today in some Western Canada barn…?

  7. in the Bob Wensley (second) photo, looks like the rocker arms are exposed. I wonder how much engine oil sprayed up onto the driver.

  8. Drag racers experimented with traverse mounted, chain drive configurations behind the driver. John Forces 1st funny car was a “sidewinder” ’73 Mustang owned( or built) by Jack Chrisman. He said, it was wildly uncontrollable, and eventually was banned from OCIR for throwing chains. ( got quite a chuckle out of that) Leave it to John Force, unquestionably, the most colorful voice of the sport. The last pic, I’d have to think the driver got a healthy dose of exhaust.

    • Wasn’t banned Howard,car was built by Chrisman,sold to Roy Mehus,Force drove.Car wasn’t banned just needed a chain idler.The car came back as Cop Patrol.

  9. Jon Lee ,I suggest that the external hand pump on “Uncle” Bob’s Racer is actually a Manual Oil Pump to supply cool Oil to the Engine when needed-(high revs while racing..) , in my humble opinion especially on this exposed valve monster.

  10. In the mid 40s we had a German neighbor who was a certfied tinkerer. I was only about six at the time and didn’t have the capacity to appreciate the genius of the guy, Emile Jentz. Emile built a small foundry in his garage and was casting everything you could imagine. One day I went down to his shop and he had cast 10 or so race cars. He gave me one (no wheels, etc.) and I was really confused. The engine compartment was towards the back. It was much later in life I relealized the car was a likeness of an Auto Union, a car Emile probably saw in the flesh.

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