Since the age of 15, Ken Svendson has been involved in auto racing. A 1949 Ford Stockcar was his first racer, built with the help of Jalopy driver Jack McClellan in Ken’s father’s service station in Chase River, south of Nanaimo. Being too young to drive himself, he recruited Bob Raynor to perform the duties. Once old enough and over the next 47 years, Ken drove racecars in a number of classes and on many circuits including B-Modifieds, Super Modifieds, Claimers, Island Super Stocks, Old Timers, and Sprint cars. He ran at every track on Vancouver Island including Nanaimo’s “Grandview Bowl” and at Western, Saratoga, and Cassidy Speedways. In addition, he travelled to tracks across B.C. and Washington State, garnering many impressive finishes. In 1975 he won the “Mid Island Auto Racing Association” (MIARA) Super Stock Championship and in 1979 he captured Western Speedway’s “Strawberry Cup”.
After hanging up his driving suit and helmet permanently, he spent the next decade as a co-owner of a Sprint car that raced on both dirt and pavement. Ken’s commitment to auto racing is unmatched and his involvement has included sponsoring other racers and an “open door” policy to assist many competitors in an array of classes. Often one would see a competitor’s race car in the shop along with his own. He always made visiting racers in all classes feel at home and tried to accommodate their specific needs, sharing his resources at no cost. To this day he willingly offers advice or takes on projects to share his extensive knowledge with new competitors. With his long career, his talents have often been untouchable, whether it’s been engine building, chassis fabrication, or engineering a feature that has resulted in a competitive advantage for himself or anyone else.
Ken’s knowledge and skill in repairing broken parts has often saved numerous cash-strapped racers from elimination. Ken has contributed tremendously to the sport of auto racing on Vancouver Island and in the eyes of many of those who have received his assistance, Ken is one of the local “greats”.
When the green flag drops on a new race season, you will probably see him in the stands at local events.