“My interest in auto racing began as a spectator and goes back to Duncan at a track called Shearing Speedway. I believe that I was still going to high school at the time,” says Wally Ilott of Nanaimo, B.C.
Five years and a Chartered Accountant’s degree later, Wally was immersed in the sport. In 1956, Wally joined MIARA as part of Red Burke’s crew. Red drove the #10 car. Later in the same year, Nibbs Anderson introduced Wally to Bob Ibbotson (later brother-in-law): a machinist. “With Bob’s expertise and Cowie Machine’s sponsorship, my car #17 was born,” says Wally. On September1, 1956, Wally ran his first race on Western Speedway’s clay track in Victoria, B.C.
Wally was a driver, a pit boss, a starter, part of the safety and technical committee, a participant in promoting the construction of Grandview Bowl, and president (1959 & 1968). Being a Chartered Accountant, it was a perfect fit for Wally to assume responsibility for all of the club’s financial affairs over these years. He volunteered his services in this area until 1969.
If you ask Wally he will tell you he wasn’t much of a driver. Just a guy who loved the thrill and skill of the ride and being at the track. His closest brush with a trophy was in May, 1958. Wally came 4th in the Main event, finishing closely behind Ray Pottinger, Digger O’Dell, and Bill Temple. However, his wife Fay, holds a first place trophy for a lady’s Powder Puff race. Perhaps Wally’s 15 seconds of fame came in May of the previous year. In 1957 Wally made the headlines in several Vancouver Island papers. “ilott uninjured in Speedway Spill.” Driving before a crowd of 2100, Wally did a double end-over-end in the backstretch of the third heat. Wally recalls Phil Hendry pulling him out of the car. As headlines stated, Wally was uninjured but the car took a beating. With the support of Harry Roberts of Paramount Autobody, the frame was straigtened and Wally and Bob Ibbotson went on to re-build the #17 car. Some time later a new #17 car was built by Wally and Bob; “We got the frame for free and paid $5 dollars for the battery,” says Wally. Down the road, selling his car did not stop Wally’s enthusiasm for the sport. By invitation, he began driving Main events for Art Clarke and later drove John Muckle’s car as well.
Wally’s family also have their memories of MIARA. Fay’s parents were avid fans who attended all the races while Wally’s parents attended only one race in which their son missed a turn, due to broken steering, and drove straight off the end of the race track. Once again Wally was uninjured. Wally and Fay’s children have fond memories of getting French fries from the concession and circling the track in the back seat of dad’s ’65 red Mustang sitting aside the pretty trophy girls after Main events. These certainly were exciting times.
“In my view, my contribution to the club came mainly from my financial and administration services”, says Ilott. This, in fact, seems to be a significant statement. Wally was awarded Sportsman Of The Year in 1965, a special appreciation award in 1968, and a lifetime membership in 1969. Furthermore, during Wally’s 1968 year as President, the Club initiated a citywide children’s Easter Egg hunt. Proudly, it is a tradition for all families of Nanaimo that remains to this day.
We are pleased to welcome new Inductee Wally Ilott into the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame & Museum.