Butch Behn was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1950, and came to Canada in 1953 when his father moved the family to Port Alberni, BC. Butch grew up and completed his schooling there, moving to Alberta to work for a time until he returned to BC in 1968 where he settled in Victoria.
He took a job in a sawmill upon his return in which was also the same year he saw his 1st race at Western Speedway. Butch decided to go in business for himself, starting “Behn’s Disposal” and sponsoring a car in the local Super Stock class at Western which was driven by Hall of Fame member Larry Pollard. In the following years, he sponsored various other drivers including the late Rick O’Dell, also an inductee of the Hall of Fame, and became a part owner of O’Dell’s “NASCAR Winston West” car.
In 1986, Butch took over the operation of Western Speedway and remained it’s promoter for 12 years. During his 1st season, which was the track’s 33rd one, he ran Super Stock, Stock Car and other classes and featured the “NASCAR Northwest Tour” and “Can-Am Tractor Pull” events. That year there were a total of 46 events which included 31 on the oval and 15 on the front stretch drag strip.
Western’s 42nd season in 1995 saw Butch put on a record number of 49 events with the 4/10th-mile oval featuring 33 of them which included the “All Star Super Stock Tour” plus several local classes and the “Canada 200”.
With the track beginning to show it’s age, Butch began a major renovation project in 1989. It started with the entire front stretch being completely rebuilt with a solid rock base and new pavement which included the 3rd and 4th turns. This reno continued in 1992 with the repaving of the backstretch and turns 1 and 2 plus a new grandstand wall and replacement of a section of the old wooden grandstands and a new 1st turn portion of metal stands. Most of these upgrades were completed with donated equipment and volunteers, the costs being covered by Butch’s company.
Events at the Speedway during Butch’s years of stewardship included two rock concerts drawing over 10,000 people each, one of which featured Tom Cochrane whose hit “Life is a Highway” was a major hit at the time.
Butch’s involvement at the track extended to the racers themselves with his auto repair shop’s state-of-the-art frame straightening machine being offered for the repair of bent racecars free of charge. He also extended some financial support and parts to assist several cash-strapped car owners in getting their racers back on the track.
In 1995, Butch purchased the “South Sound Speedway” in Washington State south of Olympia, giving up his operation of Western Speedway at the close of the 1997 season and moving his family to the United States.