Dick Varley began his racing days at the age of 19 at Shearing Speedway in 1952.
With Bob Vantreight as the mechanic on their #88 car, Dick finished the 1953 season in 6th place in the points standings and was voted “Most Promising Driver”, also winning the “Best Looking Crew” award.
Switching to run at Western Speedway’s new oval in 1954, Dick had a good season there in 1955 finishing 2nd in points which included a 1st the “Championship” race, a 3rd in the Labour Day “Gold Cup” race plus being awarded “Best Looking Car”.
At the 1st race of the 1956 season, Dick was involved in a bad accident that nearly demolished his car, but he recovered and went on to finish 5th in that year’s standings. He again finished 5th in the 1957 standings and during that season struck up a relationship with car builder Grant King, the two of them agreeing to join forces for 1958.
Grant built a 1934 Ford coupe for the new season and secured “Kerseys”, a Victoria food firm that made peanut butter, as a sponsor. Right from the start, the new team showed they would be a force to be reckoned with. Dick won a record purse of $177.00 on May 17th, finished 2nd in 1958 points and was voted “Most Popular Driver”, winning a $100.00 “Gruen” wrist watch.
Rule changes for 1959 that were very favourable to running an inline “GMC” six cylinder engine prompted Grant to switch to a ’34 Chev coupe. Grant and Dick soon had the new racer sorted out and the wins started coming which included Dick breaking the track record twice at Western. Following their 1st appearance at Nanaimo’s “Grandview Bowl” on May 29th which saw Dick shatter the old track record and post a clean sweep, Nanaimo officials noticed several new features which Grant had incorporated in the car and, pointing to their track-specific rule that “All cars must appear stock”, banned the car from Grandview Bowl. This was followed by the “Vancouver Island Track Racing Association” (VITRA) noting 6 infractions Grant had made, the end result of which was Grant pulling the car from competition until July 18th when it resumed racing only at Western. Dick won that year’s Gold Cup (at which he scored a clean sweep), was again voted Most Popular Driver and finished 8th in Island Stockcar points. The #2 racer was also awarded “Best Looking Car” for 1959.
In 1960, Dick set fast time and won the trophy dash and main event at the first 2 race meets at Western, going on to win a total of 8 mains plus 2 at a reduced number of races in Nanaimo. He won VITRA’s “Most Main Events” trophy and finished 4th in Island points.
1961 was Dick and Grant’s last year together with Grant removing the 6 cylinder GMC engine and installing a 265 Chev V8 as overhead valve 8 cylinder engines were allowed for that season. Dick survived two bad rollovers (with fires) on July 8th and August 19th and also got his 1st ride in a “midget” racer on June 25th. He drove Grant’s #77 converted “Big Car” in the inaugural “Daffodil Cup” in which he qualified 2nd fastest and repeated his 4th place position in Island Stockcar points.
Dick drove in the new “Modified Sportsman” class in 1962 in a car built by Bob Vantreight in which he finished 6th in points for the season. In 1963, Dick’s only racing was at 3 race meets in a Stockcar owned by Ken Jay. The last of these was the very final race meet for the original Stockcar class, held on Sept. 21st. Dick posted 3rd fast time and won his heat race.
He then retired from racing and moved on until the 25th anniversary celebrations at Western in 1978, when he competed in an “Old Timers” race for restored Stockcars, driving a ’32 Chevy coupe.
Dick was inducted into the “Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame” in 1985 and attended some of the later “Hall of Fame” ceremonies. Most recently he was at a June 2019 “Old Timers” get-together to promote author Bob Kehoe’s recently-released book on Billy Foster.