In the sporting world, there are many unsung heroes, those who toil diligently in the background and rarely receive the credit they truly deserve. One such person was Walter Wakelyn.
Walt began his activities in the sport of auto racing in 1939 as a mechanic for Stu Pringle. He continued in this role in 1940, then joined the Royal Canadian Navy during the war years from 1940 to 1945.
He resumed his racing activities in 1946 at Victoria’s “Langford Speedway”, teaming up with his good friend, Jimmy Dempster. Walt and Jim ran the #1 Winfield sprint car and had such great drivers as Digger Caldwell and Jack Spaulding. The car was driven by Digger in 1946 and was virtually unbeatable. Out of the seventeen main events run that year, the car scored fourteen wins, two seconds and one third. It also held the track record and had seven clean sweeps (helmet dash, heat and main event).
As well as the excellent preparation of the car and the flawless performance, this team also had the distinction of being the first to wear uniforms. They had red stripes down the legs of their white pants and all team members wore matching shirts and jackets.
When Langford Speedway closed in 1950, racing shifted to “Shearing Speedway”, just south of Duncan. Walt travelled up Island every weekend to act as the Pit Boss during the 1952 season.
When “Western Speedway” opened it’s doors in 1954, Walt and Jimmy Dempster were the Safety Committee at the track. Walt also built racing engines for many of the track’s competitors, including quite a few flathead Ford V8’s and others such as a 302 cubic inch “GMC” for Ken Dobey.
Walt retired from active racing for a while, but the bug bit him again in the 1980’s when he became involved with Ron Douglas and the vintage race cars of the Pacific Northwest “Golden Wheels” fraternity as well as his becoming a member of the California-based “Western Racing Association”.