The lure of living a short distance away from Langford Speedway attracted Gary Kershaw to regularly attend the Saturday “Big Car” races and one evening, at the age of 10, he got to take a lap around the track with his favourite driver, Jack “Digger” Caldwell in the #1 car. He subsequently competed in gokarts at both the “Dewdney Flats” and “Island View Beach” tracks where he learned his initial driving skills.
Gary first ventured into oval track racing at an all “Road Stocks” show at Western on August 13th, 1960. Road Stocks were full size street-driven cars with basically just the glass removed. At the wheel of his #26 car, a 1951 Hudson, Gary posted 7th fast time out of a 20 car field, placing 3rd in the 2nd heat and 5th in the main event.
At 3:00 in the afternoon on Saturday June 4th 1961, Gary purchased his first Stockcar from Hugh Burkmar with the intention of competing in that night’s racing at Western Speedway. But there was one problem. The Stockcar’s transmission needed replacement which was not a quickly accomplished task in a 1932 Ford. But it got done with Gary competing in that night’s program with the likes of Billy Foster, Al Smith and Dick Varley. He went on to have a very good first season finishing 6th in Island points and was the first-ever recipient of the “Vancouver Island Track Racing Association” (VITRA) “Rookie of the Year” trophy.
For 1962, Gary drove in both the Stockcar and new “Modified Sportsman” classes. On August 25th, he racked up an impressive list of finishes in a combined show which featured both divisions. He placed 2nd in the Stockcar dash and won their 1st heat and main event. In the Modified half of the program, he copped a 2nd in the 1st heat and won the main event. Both the cars Gary wheeled that season had connections to veteran car builder and driver Digger O’Dell whom Gary had coaxed out of racing retirement to be his mechanic. Digger had built the Modified and had driven the Stocker back in 1957. Gary finished the year in 2nd spot in the Stockcar division and 4th in the Modified class.
Selling his Stockcar at the end of the year, Gary for the most part sat the ’63 season out with his driving limited to standing in for his former Stockcar’s new driver Ross Phillips on July 13th, and also driving Digger’s Modified at a single race meet on June 1st. For 1964, the Stockcars were discontinued on the Island and replaced with a new “B-Modified” class. Frank Dyer, the owner of the now-obsolete #1 Stockcar, chose to run it in the new division and had Gary drive it.
Gary returned in 1965 at the wheel of a 1949 Ford “Jalopy” in which he finished 5th in points for the year. For the next two seasons he raced with the “Victoria Auto Racing Association” (VARA) and the following year drove a ’55 Chevy Stockcar to an impressive record, winning 9 out of the 15 main events for the class and ending the year as Points Champion. During that season, he won the “Corby Cup” (most main event wins), the “Billy Foster 100” trophy, the “Most Popular Driver” award, the “VARA Competition Sports” and “Championship Race” trophies plus “Best Appearing Car” and “Best Looking Crew” awards.
1969 saw Gary step up to the “Super Stock” class and during the season he won the “July Cup” and finished the year 1st in the points standings.
He then turned his attention to driving in the “Open Super Stock” division throughout the Pacific Northwest in 1971 which included making a name for himself as the 1st Canadian to win the “Permatex 200” race in Riverside, California. He was also the Super Stock “International Drivers Challenge” (IDC) overall winner and was voted Victoria’s “Male Athlete of the Year”.
In 1972 he won the “Victoria 100” NASCAR Super Stock race at Western and set a new Open Super Stock track record on June 26th.
Gary won the 2nd annual running of the “Canada 200” in June of 1973 at which he also set fast time and then returning to the local Super Stock class later in the season, finished 7th in points and also came 1st in the Season Championship race.
In the same division the following year he won virtually everything including 21 main events and the points championship which earned him the nickname of “The King”. For 1975 he finished 3rd in points, winning the “Corby Cup”, the “Roy White Memorial”, “Sponsor’s Trophy”, the “Championship Race”, “Most Popular Driver” and “Best Looking Super Stock” plus setting a new track record on Sept. 27th.
In subsequent years, Gary drove in select Open Competition races and finally ended his career at the wheel of a 1930 Ford coupe in the “Old Time Racers Association” (OTRA).
In addition to his 1984 induction into the “Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame”, Gary was also inducted into the “Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame” in 2010. Here is a link to his page on their website: https://www.gvshof.ca/inductees-2/all-inductees/21-motor-sports/160-gary-kershaw-2010.html