With his active involvement in auto racing beginning in the mid 1950’s and continuing to the present day, 1990 Inductee Dick Midgley’s longevity record is almost unmatched.
Although known primarily as a mechanic, car builder and car owner, Dick also at times donned a helmet and got behind the wheel of some of his racecars with one particular time earning him his nickname of “The Bird” when the car became airborne.
Along with his older brother Reg, the two of them entered a car in Western Speedway’s newly-formed “Jalopy” class in 1958 which proved very successful with their driver, Dave McClelland, finishing in 1st place in the season points standings. The following year they moved up to the “Stockcar” class with a 1934 Ford coupe and veteran Dick Willoughby as their driver. Following Dick’s untimely passing in July of that year, they had Dave McClelland complete the year for them and finished 5th in the 1959 standings.
Running the same car in 1960, Dick and Reg had Dave Cooper behind the wheel. With overhead valve V8 engines being allowed in the Stockcar division for the 1961 season, Dick built a Buick coupe powered by a Buick “Nailhead” V8 and secured long-time Nanaimo driver Ray Pottinger. This car ran in 2 divisions which included the Island Stockcar class and also as a “Modified Sportsman”, the main difference between the two versions being the removal or addition of the car’s coupe body. They did very well in both classes, with Ray winning the Island’s Stockcar season championship and also recording wins and good finishes in the Sportsman races they entered on the BC Mainland, Oregon and Washington state. This included a 3rd place finish in Western’s very 1st “Daffodil Cup” race.
For 1962, Dick partnered with Ted Mackenzie and they fielded a new car as the Island now had it’s own Modified Sportsman division. Another seasoned veteran, Gerry Sylvester, came out of a 7 year retirement to drive this also Buick-powered racer and they finished 5th in points for the season. In addition to running the same car in ’63, Dick appeased his own driving desire by piloting a 1953 Ford Jalopy at Western and Nanaimo and also the #33 Stockcar, owned by Don Lidgate, at a single race meet in Nanaimo. During the off-season and into 1964, Dick became involved with 4 new Sprintcars being built by Grant King and following that, served as a VITRA “Safety Man” at Western in 1965. He was also chief mechanic on Geoff Vantreight’s “Daffodil Special” Super Modified which was driven by Al Smith, competing on the Canadian American Modified Racing Association (CAMRA) circuit throughout the Pacific Northwest.
With the startup of Western’s 1st “Super Stock” class in 1968, Dick built a 1957 Chevy and had Dave Cooper as his driver, also running this car the following season. A ’65 Chevelle was built for the next two Super Stock seasons with Dick putting together an even newer one for 1972 to run Open Competition which he ran until 1974, with Dave Cooper, Roy Smith and Ross Surgenor as drivers. Now turning his attention to competing in NASCAR, one of the highlights of the new car he built for 1975 was NASCAR star Bobby Allison driving it in a special guest appearance at Western’s “Canada 200”. Over the following seasons, Dick entered cars at several major “Winston Cup” races, competing at such tracks as Daytona and Riverside with the likes of Bobby Allison, Herschel McGriff, Dave Marcis, Norm Ellefson, Roy Smith and Ross Surgenor taking the wheel. In 1989, Roy Smith’s performance won Dick’s car the “Busch Pole” award at “Phoenix Raceway” in Arizona.
Dick’s racing involvement continued through the 1990’s and into the new millennium and, under the banner of “Midgley Motorsports”, his cars have competed in many international events which have included Japan and Australia and in January of 2010 he travelled to Phakisa, South Africa with 2 of his cars to compete in an “ASA”(American Speed Association) race at the “Phakisa Freeway”, a 1.5 mile oval track with drivers John Mickel of Great Britain, who won the race, and Washington state’s Gary Lewis, who finished 6th.
Dick had planned to work with 2011 “Hall of Fame” Inductee David Smith on some racing events in 2020 until the “COVID” pandemic shut everything down, but as of this writing early in 2021, he was assisting David with preparations for an “ARCA West” (Automobile Racing Club of America) race.