Monday, May 23, 2022

Recently recovered photos from the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Racing Days in our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario....

     With much thanks to Paula Orr and the owner of these photos, Gary Becotte and with permission we are able to add an all new HR&J post after many months.  Some of these photos are very rare to me as not many have been taken of these cars, particularly Tom Dow's car and his hauler.  A few other photos were taken from what was called the mezzanine.  The CLE added extra uncovered bleachers on the north side of the covered grandstand a few years after racing started at the CLE in the early 1950's.

The first photo here is of Tom Dow's race car hauler painted to match his car back in 1954.  The picture was taken in the lane-way behind what was the original Dow's Auto Electric which was located at 112 N. May St. later to become Chris' Billiard Hall.  The building still exists today in the same location.  

The building in the background here is the rear of the original St. Stanislaus (Stan's) school which also still exists today....the front of it faces Miles St.  

Tom and his brother built and tuned Tom's #2 car in that building on 112 N. May.  This is also where Tom met Barry Kettering who worked a few years before then for Thorne's Sargent Automotive which was located on the large parking lot on Violet St., before a spectacular fire had destroyed it.

The next photo here is the rear of the old St. Stan's school which can be seen behind the above photo and behind the following photo as well.

Here's is how Tom Dow's car looked in 1953/54.  It was a 1932 Ford 3-window coupe.  The holy grail of the Hot Rod world today.

The building below is the rear of 112 N. May St. as it looks today.  You can see where the centre of the garage area was once opened to a large door where the Dow brothers worked on #2.

The picture on the right is of a very young Tom Dow in racing whites.... well I guess they were white before the races started.

It's interesting to read the newspaper article below from July 29, 1954 to see what was happening at the old CLE 1/2 mile racetrack.  Tom did go on to win the 1954 Championship and carry the trophy home.


The following scrap yard photo is the first race car that Walter (Wally) (Walt) Prokosh raced at the CLE grounds in the same era that Tom Dow raced.  The car was sponsored by D & J Stitt Menswear, and Mid City Machinery.  It stood the test of time in 1953 but succumbed to it's injuries and by the end of the year, Wally had a brand new Jalopy to race.


Here's Wally's next car...a very nice '37 Ford coupe with the same sponsors and number 55.  Wally did pretty well with this car but destiny would change his future as you will see in the next photo.

Wally was offered a driver's seat in the bright yellow #54 car owned and built by the Abitibi Power and Paper Company of Port Arthur.  This winning car gave Wally a big name in the racing community here in the early 1950's.  It was a 1933 Ford 3-window coupe.  The use here of the wide 5 wheels from Ford's 1936 vehicles helped hold them to the hub at a 10 1/2 bolt circle.  There were less wheel loss from a larger circle and the racing community continued to use the 10 1/2's for decades to come particularly on sprint cars.

Here's a great picture of Wally Prokosh, cig in hand and goggled helmet being very cool with his new jalopy to drive.  This car also had a Ford overhead valve engine which basically put most of the flathead engines back in the pack.


Smack dab in the middle of these great photos is this very early, circa 1953 photo of Don Marsh's #60 car which I believe was Don's very first stock car, sporting a Ford flathead engine and a yellow and black paint scheme.  Don also did very well in his early years of racing.


From the Mezzanine this photo was taken of #77 Clyde Ditmars from Kakabeka Falls leading an unknown driver here coming out of turn 4.  There was consistant great racing at the CLE track in the 1950's and as a kid I dreamed about someday racing a jalopy, but it had to wait until I was older and until Riverview Raceway was built, and by then they weren't called jalopies.


Here's another of Wally Prokosh coming out of turn 4 as well with what looks like someone on their lid halfway through the corner.  Not clear but who cares....these are great photos.


Here's another of Wally in #54 with #36 further down the track. 

Finally we have Albert Massaro in his Rea's Esso #88 car going the wrong way 👈😂 ....and I have no idea who's driving the blurred car. 

Lastly here is the actual Lakehead Stock Car Club logo which was put to use on literally hundreds of racing jackets from the good old Canadian Lakehead Exhibition days.

All the above photos were copied and edited to make them as clear as we could to bring out the detail. Thanks again to Gary Becotte for the photos and Paula Orr for bringing them to our attention at the Hotrods and Jalopies blog pages.  A couple of my archive photos and a news clip were also added.

......thanks for visiting us again at HR&J, with more new racing posts to come.

No comments: