Dick Willoughby began his racing career in 1952 at the newly-completed “Shearing Speedway” north of Duncan where he drove a few races in their “Stockcar” class which included placing 3rd in the 2nd heat race and 2nd in the main event at one particular meet in early October.
With racing also taking place at Western Speedway’s new track in 1954, Dick began competing there and had the misfortune to demolish no less than 3 cars that season.
For 1955, his crew fastened a pair of roller skates to the roof of his ’34 Ford Stockcar in case Dick decided to do a repeat performance of rollovers. The idea stopped the flips and Dick finished 6th in the points standings with he and his #99 car’s pit members being awarded “Best Looking Crew”.
1956 was Dick’s best year. He won 3 consecutive main events, a record at the time, and posted a grand total of 6 for that season. These plus other wins and good finishes, which included a 2nd place in the 60 lap “Championship Race”, gave him the #1 spot in season points.
He won the 1st main event run on Western’s newly-paved surface on June 1st of 1957, was voted “Most Popular Driver” by the Speedway’s fans and finished in 3rd place in the points race.
Dick experienced his 1st rollover since the installation of the “roller skates” on July 12th of the 1958 season and finished in 9th place in points for the year. He also tried his hand at driving a “Big Car” (Sprintcar) in their 1st meet of the season but had the bad luck to throw a spark plug in a heat race which couldn’t be repaired in time for the main event.
For 1959, Dick took the wheel of a new car owned by Dick and Reg Midgley. During the July 18th main event at Western, Nanaimo’s Jim Milner was involved in a tangle on the 4th lap which resulted in his car rolling towards the backstretch fence. In the mad scramble to avoid Jim’s flipping car, no less than 9 other racers slammed into each other, completely blocking the track and bringing out the red flag. Of the original 20 cars that had started the race, only 12 were able to continue with one of them being Dick’s #9 car and following the restart he went on to finish 2nd behind winner Dave Cooper. When the checkered flag fell, little did his fellow competitors, track officials and fans know at the time that they had just witnessed Dick’s final race. In a sad twist of Fate, he would lose his life the very next day in an afternoon skin-diving accident at Shoal Bay harbour.
Following his passing, The Willoughby family and the “Vancouver Island Track Racing Association” (VITRA) initiated the “Dick Willoughby Sportsmanship Trophy” which was awarded for many years after to the VITRA member showing the most sportsman-like conduct throughout the season.
Dick was inducted into the “Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame” in 1984, being among the first group of 7 inductees to receive the honour.