Friday, July 16, 2010

MERV DOVE - A Gentleman to be Admired!!

Merv Dove's racing career started at a very young age when the scent of oil, gasoline and dirt got into his blood and for a whole lifetime, never waned.

Here is a man outstanding in his field(no pun intended here). Merv was always a racer to be reckoned with. This first picture was taken just in front of the home stretch at the CLE racetrack here in Fort William, Ontario in about 1952. Although Merv never really won a championship at the CLE(well.....he did come a close second), his name was always in the top 10 roster, with a few time trial track records under his belt. Throughout all this, Merv was always a true gentleman. Proving this was to win a very prestigious award many years running in the 1950's as "The Most Gentlemanly Driver". The next picture above shows one of his early cars taken in about 1952 when dirt track racing was really taking hold here at The Lakehead.

A pit and home stretch shot here, taken from the Grandstand at about the same time as the photo above shows Merv's famed #31 car and extra bleachers below to accommodate the thousands of fans that frequented the track on race days. The next two photos were newspaper shots from his younger years....proving that Merv had many fan's, myself included.

This news clipping in the mid 1950's starts the Maple Leaf Service years as Merv's main sponsor. Merv, you said you never wrecked a '32 Ford...and the cars you drove were always '34 Fords....well what have we here....but a "little Deuce Coupe".

Here is Merv up against the fence with Pappy Fowler(Pappy drove #98 for awhile). Next to that is another Maple Leaf Service newspaper ad.

Be sure to click twice on this news clipping from a later 1950's local newspaper to get a great story about Merv. The next photo was taken 2 days ago and is the former site of Maple Leaf Service on Cumberland Street. The last photo above here is of Conrad Trombelli #49 and....Yes, that's Merv on the far right. I think he's adjusting his windshield wipers!!
The Crew during the Maple Leaf Service years. They are left to right, Merv in western hat(very common in those days), Pete Knights, Bruce Larson, and Merv's brother Reg.
The word "gentleman" surely runs in the Dove family as I worked for about 7 years with his brother Reg, shown above, at Shell Canada in the late 60's and early 70's. During this time Reg purchased an old 1948 Mercury(I remember it well). Reg's son Randy finished the hot rod many years after this photo was taken, and you can see a photo of it below. Randy aptly licensed the car in his fathers memory as "DADZ 48". A wonderful tribute to a great guy.
The clipping above spelled Merv's name wrong(damn those type-setters)...but showed him as one of the top dogs to have to deal with!
Merv worked for Jessiman Motors in the parts department in the early years, and from about 1963 when he started flagging at Riverview, until 1998 you could always see his happy face at Amco Machine. Throughout his life's trial and tribulations, Merv always had a smile on his face, and a friendly greeting for you no matter where or when.
NEXT - The Riverview Years
Merv retired from the CLE track after about 11 years of racing, but as noted above, the magnetism of the dirt was too much to hold back. Merv became the all new "Riverview Raceways" flagman for the first 5 years of racing there from 1967 to about 1971. Check out the high jumps and the high jinx.
As mentioned before, always a gentleman. When I was racing in 1968, Merv would check every car to be sure the seat belts were secure and to scold you if your arm was hanging out of the side window(as Al Yahn would say). He would also give good driving advice as he poked his head inside your car just before a race and say, "Hey Dave, you're leading in points....just take it cool and you'll be OK." seems like yesterday!!

Here is Merv handing Stan Anderson the checkered flag after a win, and another high jump with the Checkered Flag.

Here is a photo of Merv and Louis Tocheri holding models of their cars I had built many years before the photo, and also how they looked years before. This one was taken about 8 years ago in Ron Limbrick's garage. Ron started the July 1st "back yard 500" Barbeque which lasted for many years in Ron's garage, then later on continued as a regular dinner evening and still does to this day, thanks to Merv. I always look forward to his call and getting together with all the guys. This is one of my favourite photos of myself with Merv.
Some of the guys that attend the present day Back Yard 500 dinners are Bob Walker, Tom Kusznier, Richard Spooner, Ron Limbrick, Dave Cano, Volker Lehmann, Denis Winko, Gary Jansekovich, Jim Hamer and Allan Yahn. Earlier on, all the above plus, Red Marsonet, Louis Tocheri, Bud Heidrick, Glen Kettering, Jugger Brown, Roydon Williamson, Gord Adams, Don Colosimo, Bob Kostyniuk, Jordan Calonego and others attended Ron's Barbeque. There were also many surprise visitors through the years. Thanks to Merv for keeping it going.
Here is the picture of Merv's nephew Randy's beautiful Mercury with "DADZ 48" on the plate.
Last but not least is a recent picture of Merv...still going strong. Merv and his wife Dolly travel all over the states sight seeing guessed it....going to the races.
Merv has a long life yet to live, and of course always a gentleman and a great friend.
Ending with an Irish proverb.....Merv, May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, and may good luck pursue you each morning and night.
Be sure to click on most photos(some twice) to enlarge!