When the Pallister family moved from the “Mount Stephen” area of Victoria and settled on their recently-purchased 26 acre parcel of land in Langford in 1957, little did they realize that the auto racing track that was their close neighbour would soon become a main focus for sons Robert and Melvin’s leisure-time activities for the next 50 plus years.
After meeting and getting to know his new neighbour, track owner Andy Cottyn, Ed Pallister was soon assisting Andy in the construction of 2 new end grandstands for the oval as well as hauling in and spreading water which controlled the dusty roadway into the speedway. Although only 8 years of age at the time, Ed’s son Robert soon convinced Andy that there were several duties around the facility he was capable of in addition to assisting his Dad with the water spreading, such as moving cars plus other small jobs until he was old enough to participate in the actual racing.
In 1971, Robert’s first racing opportunity arrived when he joined the crew of Roy Haslam’s #22 1966 Rambler “Marlin” Super Stock. Following closely on his brother’s heels was Robert’s younger brother Melvin, who became a crew member on Roy’s “Marlin” in 1972. Robert’s contribution of a stocked tool chest plus his and Melvin’s “almost full time” participation in “racecar maintenance” helped to ensure Roy’s subsequent successes in local and open Super Stock events, a highlight of which was Roy placing 3rd in an Open Competition main event in Las Vegas after qualifying 6th out of a field of 147 cars.
In the late ’70’s, Robert and Melvin, along with their older brother Daryl, opened “Prism Auto Body” and sponsored Super Stock racer Al Vanderbyl during the 1979 season. They continued this support of Al through and into the ’82 season when, in a newer Larry Lund-owned Pontiac Ventura, “Vanderbyl Racing” competed in the “NASCAR Sportsman Series” with Al finishing 7th in points. Future endeavours included the formation of “RPM Racing” with Brad Mawson and driver Geoff Robinson and Melvin accepting a technical official’s position in the “CanAm Late Model Series”. Robert’s return from a short-term family move to Trail, BC in the 1990’s resulted in his starting “Toadal Auto Body” and sponsoring as many as seven racecars for the remainder of the decade.
In 2000, Melvin and Robert teamed up to support Melvin’s son Tony in an “IMCA” modified which saw Tony winning “Rookie of the Year”. This continued into 2002 along with a “CASCAR Late Model Series” car which Tony also drove. Melvin then began a “crew chief” association with Trevor and Wheeler Boys of Calgary on first an IMCA modified and then on to “NASCAR” which ended with him moving with Trevor Boys and crew to South Carolina in an attempt to get into the “NASCAR Cup Series” in 2009.
There followed some quality time with their respective families and grandchildren after which, in 2012, both boys found the need to race again. Robert crewed for Mike Haslam with Melvin assisting Ron Jay and both drivers competing in the “K&N West Late Model Series”.
For the past few years, the Pallister brothers, as they did at the start of their racing days, have teamed up to help a “Haslam”, crewing for Mike in both the “WILROC” sprint car and the local “Late Model” series, greatly befitting their long and storied contributions to the sport of auto racing.