The very colourful “Digger” first donned racing togs in 1937 after purchasing a four-cylinder Chrysler Sprint Car from Phil Foster. It was an ideal beginner’s car – good handling, not too fast, and nearly always still running when the checkered flag fell.
In 1939, Digger bought a four-cylinder Chevrolet-powered sprint car from “Langford Speedway” promoter Jack Taylor. Ironically, Digger flipped this car while he was on a test run, but as it was one of the first local racers equipped with a roll bar, he was unhurt. He placed well with this car until racing was cancelled for the duration of the 2nd World War.
Returning to action in 1946, Digger equalled Langford’s track record of 18 seconds flat, then went on to turn in a near-perfect season record. Out of the 17 main events held, Digger won 14, came 2nd twice and 3rd once. He also had 7 consecutive “clean sweeps” (helmet (later called the “trophy”) dash, heat race and main event).
He then relocated to Seattle in 1947 and ran a heavy schedule with the “Midget” cars. This lasted until mid-season when a lucrative job offer in Victoria lured him North again where he ran the rest of the season in the Davis sprint car.
He again returned to the States in 1948 and continued his racing exploits until his retirement in 1959.
During the early days of his driving career, Digger earned the nickname of “The International Complication”, with the popular sportswriter of the day, Pete Salloway, probably wearing out a number of typewriter ribbons as he recorded Digger’s many racing accomplishments.
Digger was also known as a true sportsman, a gentleman and a “class” individual. In later years, he was involved with the Seattle-based “Golden Wheels” fraternity of former racers and acted as “Master of Ceremonies” at many of their banquets.
Digger Caldwell passed away in January of 1993, but his exploits and his memory have lived on in the memories of his many friends in the Pacific Northwest auto racing community.