Posted: July 17, 2016
The BC motorsports community lost one of its most familiar figures this past week when Tony Morris passed away. Originally from Scotland, Tony started work with the Dunlop Rubber Company, becoming manager of the Dunlop Racing Tyre Group and was heavily involved in all forms of motorsport, including Formula One. In the 1960’s, he emigrated to Vancouver, at first again working for Dunlop and then opening his legendary race tire supplier, Circuit Tire in Port Moody.
Tony had brought his Janspeed-prepared Mini Cooper S with him from the U.K. and was soon successfully racing it at Westwood. He then moved to bigger machinery, the best known of which was his Trans Am ‘Heavy Chevy’ Camaro. He was still winning races in the Player’s / GM Motorsport Series in the late 1980’s.
Tony was always well known for his on-track skill but it was all of his other contributions through the years that made him so popular and well-respected. In the Westwood days, he took on various roles with the Sports Car Club of BC, including driver training and track management. Also, in later years, he served as the FIA track safety inspector for Western Canada.
Through his own automotive businesses, Tony introduced and trained many people in high performance driving. He was known for his very helpful instructional style and was always ready to help anyone who asked.
Tony was inducted into the Greater Vancouver Motorsport Pioneers Society in 2006. He will be greatly missed by everyone in BC motorsports.
A celebration of Tony’s life is planned for the fall. The VRCBC offers it condolences to his family and many friends.
Posted: July 5, 2016
SOVREN, our good friends south of the border, held their annual Pacific Northwest Historics races at Pacific Raceway over the July 1-3 weekend. Several VRCBC racers and friends made the trip, and Brent Martin was there to capture them ‘on film’ (see below). Brent will have many more of his photos on his web site (here) soon.
Posted: June 23, 2016
Another of the VRCBC’s many globe-trotting correspondents has just filed their latest report. Ann Peters was in an Italian village in May, just in time to watch this year’s version of the Mille Miglia go past. At one time, the Mille Miglia was probably the most prestigious of the long distance ‘real’ road races. Competitors set off at fixed intervals and raced against the clock from Brescia to Rome and then back again along a different route, all in one day.
The modern Mille Miglia follows the same route but at a much more sedate pace, taking four days to complete. It features a wide range of classic racing and touring cars of many different vintages – some famous and some more obscure. Ann has posted some of her photos of the cars on Dropbox (here). See how many you can identify. Thanks Ann!
Posted: June 22, 2016
Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit held its official grand opening on June 6th. The Circuit invited some VRCBC members – and others – to bring their racing cars to do some demonstration laps as part of the ceremonies. Paul Bonner was there and sent us these photos – thanks Paul. See how many cars, motorcycles and famous personalities you recognize.
Updated: June 28, 2016
Sadly, one of the original members of the VRCBC passed away suddenly on June 8th. Adrian Ratcliff had appeared to be in good health until he was diagnosed with terminal cancer only a few weeks ago. A Celebration of Adrian’s Life was held on Sunday, June 26th at the Semiahoo Fish and Game Club in Surrey.
More recent members of the VRCBC know Adrian as one of key members of our excellent BCHMR commentary team, always contributing knowledgeable and witty comments – better known as ‘Adrianisms’ – about the on-track action. Older motorsports enthusiasts however, remember Adrian for his own racing exploits.
In the words of his longtime friend (and one of the founders of the VRCBC) David Birchall:
“His driving style was spectacular! On the original 165 x 400 mm Michelins he campaigned for many years, usually sideways … I recall at the 1979 Portland Historics the organizers called him in for a “discussion”, never having seen anyone drive in such uninhibited style! “Corner? What corner?” he would say, the car sideways with smoke pouring off all four tires.”
Adrian raced that Alfa Romeo, nicknamed ‘Piggy’ for many years. David again:
In 1985 Adrian rolled ‘Piggy’ during a race at Westwood. He was lucky to survive. With no roll bar and only a lap belt when the driver’s door came open as the car rolled, he was thrown from the car during the roll and was lucky not to be crushed – I kid you not. He was sucked back in by the grace of… ‘Piggy’ was not so lucky and never ran again.
Long time racer and VRCBC member Leigh Anderson remembers that incident very well:
Adrian’s superb controlled slides in that Alfa were pure magic. The day he rolled the Alfa at the Westwood hairpin is still a vivid memory for me as he rolled it because his brakes failed, and he was about to rear-end me at a very high rate of speed as I braked for the hairpin in my little sports racer. I probably would not be here talking about it today had he not risked his own life.
Adrian had also raced an (in)famous Lotus Elite during this period. It was famous because it had originally been owned by Innes Ireland (who apparently disliked it intensely) and it was infamous with Adrian because it seemed to be continually plagued with bad luck.
Adrian replaced ‘Piggy’ with a Lotus Cortina, which he continued to race until Westwood closed. Adrian was a ‘larger than life’ personality and his old friends have many more great stories about him.
The Genie Can-Am car that Adrian restored so beautifully – he called it ‘the Old Girl’ – is now owned by Mac McGarry of California. Mac has forwarded us this photo of the Genie in action last year.
All of the members of the VRCBC offer their condolences to Adrian’s family and his many friends.