In the early 1960s, Fred Best and four friends formed a car club called the Checkmates. They decided to try auto racing in 1964 with Fred’s everyday car, a 1951 Dodge four door sedan as their Jalopy Class race car at Western Speedway. The Checkmates joined the Vancouver Island Track Racing Association, known as VITRA, a requirement to drive or be on a pit crew at the Speedway. The Dodge #88 participated with more than 40 cars in the Jalopy Class in “64. Fred did well in his Dodge six cylinder against the popular and fast Ford flathead V8s. At the end of the season Fred was seventh in point standings, earning the Jalopy Class Rookie Of The Year and the Checkmates won the Best Looking Crew.
For 1965’s race season he drove the #7 Plymouth Coupe winning heats and finishing well in “A” Mains against Fords at both Western and Grandview Bowl in Nanaimo. The Class had grown to seventy cars so each race night saw three or four Mains. Car clubs were popular in the 1960s so the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Victoria Police sponsored a Road-EO at the Town and Country parking lot, 12 Island clubs participated. Fred and his friend Ken Holding won top honours in the three hour skills competition and the Checkmates Car Club got top Car Club Trophy.
The 1966 race season saw big changes. Jalopy Class was now Stock Car Class and VITRA tried bargaining with Western Speedway for more prize money. Things did not go well so VITRA decided to race only at Grandview Bowl and a new group, the Victoria Auto Racing Association formed at Western. Fred was on the VITRA executive so he he raced in Nanaimo. Suddenly auto racing’s future was at stake in Victoria but a compromise was reached during the summer when a syndicate headed by daffodil farmer, Geoff Vantreight, purchased Western Speedway. Both clubs were pursuaded to complete the 1966 race season together. Fred continued on the executive to help keep racing alive at Western and after four years of Jalopys and Stocks.
Fred wanted something faster so in 1968 he drove a Super “A” Modified with Inter City Modifieds. He tried sports car racing too; driving a 1967 yellow Chevy Camaro on the new road course at Western Speedway and on the Mainland at Westwood Road course. Fred and Bob Lowe also entered the Camaro in the South Vancouver Island Road Rally and won. In 1968 he was Vice President of VITRA, and 1969 the President. Fred proved to be a strong leader for the racing community. He continued racing Inter City Modifieds but tried the Super Modifieds in the Canadian American Modified Racing Association at tracks from Western Speedway, (in the 150 lap Daffodil Cup) where he finished fifth against drivers like Roy Smith around the Northwest and into Alberta. Fred was of a rebuilt faster fuel injected super modified in 1970. One practice night he came down the front stretch nearing the track record when the throttle locked wide open slamming the car into the mountain at the end of the front straight. The safety crew got Fred out and transported him to hospital then he spent several days at home recovering. The car was a write off and the crash ended Fred’s driving career. He continued to stay involved in auto racing at Western Speedway being elected President of VITRA four times, serving as Pit Boss, Race Director of the International Drivers Challenge Super Stock Series. Fred is retired, his interest now include curling, fishing, hunting, and golf.
So with sincere gratitude we induct Fred Best into the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame