As a Victoria “Big Car” (sprint car) owner in the early 1930’s, Jack Taylor campaigned a Ford-powered racer in “British Columbia Automotive Sports Association (BCASA)-sanctioned meets at the “Willows” and the “Colwood Mile”, two local horse racing tracks. The always-capacity crowds didn’t escape his attention, especially when he was approached to build a speedway on a large tract of land he owned near Langford Lake. With the then-current Great Depression and Victoria’s island location, the risks were enormous, but Jack was willing to gamble. Fellow BCASA members volunteered, turning out in full force to help and the construction of “Langford Speedway” was begun in 1935. The grandstands were built by Jack with the help of Andy and George Cottyn.
Following it’s opening in 1936, the 3/8th mile track proved to be successful beyond anyone’s expectations, due largely to Jack’s promotion. He was everywhere as his own promoter, publicist, announcer, car owner and track manager. To augment the meager local field of about a dozen sprint cars, he offered a generous guarantee of $25 to any car coming from the U.S.. And come they did, flocking in from Seattle, Portland, California’s “Bay Area” and even Los Angeles. The local field of cars swelled to around 25, but Jack continued to offer the appearance money to the U.S. racers, thus maintaining the international flavour. Some of the legendary drivers to race at Langford were Jimmy Wilburn, Rajo Jack, Wally Schock, Einar “Swede” Lindskog, Johnny McDowell, Allen Heath, Chick Barbo, Tommy Legge, Adolph Dans, “Cactus” Jack Turner, Shorty Scovell and a host of other outstanding international stars.
Lighting was installed in 1937, using 150 watt bulbs. The track also became the first paved facility in Canada, thanks to a $1,500 donation by racing enthusiast, Frannie Morse. As sprint car racing was his mainstay, Jack turned down most other association’s requests to appear. His weekly Saturday programs were, after all, attracting near-capacity crowds. However, other types of cars did occasionally appear on the same program as the sprints with the 1940 season closing with a split midget /sprint race in October.
Langford Speedway ceased operation for the duration of WWII after the 1941 season and was used during the war by the military. Racing resumed in 1945 with the track being purchased in 1946 by Bruce Passmore.
Jack Taylor’s building of Langford Speedway brought regular auto racing to the Lower Island and his determined promotional efforts did much to put Victoria on the international auto racing “map” with the result that during that time, Victoria came to be known as “Canada’s Auto Racing Capital”.