That first rumbling ride down a dirt hill was all it took to hook Norm Wilcox on chasing checkered flags.
“My friend Harvey Chipper put together a go-kart,” said Wilcox, who was 15 or 16 at the time. “Harvey said ‘I built it, you drive it,’” he said regarding that first time behind the wheel roaring down the hill on Miller Road.
Wilcox, who started working on stock cars when he was 19, wound up working with Gary Kershaw in 1968 on a 1955 Chevy. They took home three golds, winning the championship, the Billy Foster 100, and best-looking car at Western Speedway with that car.
“You could say we achieved our goals,” Wilcox said.
That led to building cars they raced at Western Speedway, in Nanaimo, and at the Oyster River track in Courtenay.
“There were some interesting late-night drives home,” he recalled with a chuckle.
“We started building Old Timer’s stock cars in 1976 and that series worked out well. We started with just a few cars and I’m proud to say they’re still running the series today.”
After building and selling four more cars, Wilcox decided in 1983 that it was time to move on to something different.
“I had a weekly lunch with Ross Rockett and we came up with the idea for the Victoria Auto Racers Hall of Fame. We put together a group of people for the initial induction ceremony in 1984, and the seven people selected the first year received crests. We started handing out blue blazers for inductees after that, a tradition that still goes on,” added Wilcox, who was inducted in 2014.
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“Ross was a tremendous fellow,” he said. “We were joined at the hip and it was just devastating to hear he’s gone. He worked very hard at whatever he did, a true founding father of Western Speedway.”
Wilcox also started the 7-11 Race of Champions, which involves drivers competing in different classes of cars than what they earned championships in.
“In my mind, I haven’t stopped racing,” Wilcox noted. “But I slowed down for 10 years to focus on the Victoria Racing Hall of Fame.”
He was quick to include Dick Midgley and Larry Pollard as other major contributors to the success of racing locally and well beyond.
“They put Western Speedway on the map, especially in the U.S. There’s so many great people in the Hall of Fame that established the racing community on the West Shore. They’re like a great family.”
Wilcox has something special in mind after the last race at the legendary speedway is completed.
“When the track shuts down in September my goal is to take the starter’s post, a section of the announcer’s booth, a 5x5 section of the grandstand and a piece of the track for the Hall of Fame because it meant so much to so many people for so many years.”
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