On Wednesday, June 12th in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, at Laird Raceway owner Donnie Varcoe home over 20+ drivers and their spouses from Heyden Speedway. Most of the drivers have not seen or been in the same room together since the Heyden race track closed in 1973.
This idea came about after Varcoe decided that these drivers should be recognized for their accomplishments in racing and how Heyden Speedway helped shape the racing scene in Sault Ste Marie today. The dirt ¼ mile Heyden Speedway was located atop of One Mile Hill in Heyden, Ontario where the Beaumont Trailer Park sits today. The clay ¼ speedway operated was opened by Len Mortimore and the Friedman family from 1967 until it closed in 1971. The speedway tower was equipped with a lighting system to count the laps and sixty-second clock to track the drivers time around the clay track in Heyden. Nothing compared to the technology the tracks used today to determine drivers time and distance.
In attendance at Donnie Varcoe’s home in the west end of Sault Ste Marie were drivers Wes Beckett, Hubie Brazeau, Ed Powley, Wes Seabrook, Dave Seabrook, Mike Uhlman, Larry Ebare, Bill Allan, Dennis Aho, Jim Chapman, Marvin Dunn, Tom Deevey, Harold Daynard, Rick Ellis, Jack Forbes, Gary McBride, Harry Moskell, Sonny MacIntosh, Fred Page, Patt Hubbard, John Villeneuve, Norm Nichols, Winston Wilson, Dennis O’Reilly, Jim McAuley and Ernie Gulyas. Drivers Roddy Speers, Jim Leacock, John Becanic, Ray Miron Gene Wiles, Bill Yourchuk, Roger Slater and Rick McDonald could not attend this evening festivities to share stories about the speedway’s history.
The June 12th event was hosted by Donnie Varcoe along with longtime Sault Ste Marie driver Rick Ellis who reached out to all these drivers to attend this incredible event. Donnie hand out lifetime free access passes to Laird Raceway to all the drivers and jacket that had the drivers name and a Heyden Speedway logo designed by Patti Wierzbicki.
After the drivers were treated to a pasta dinner, drivers Dave Westbrook, Wes Beckett, Rick Ellis, and few others took their time to stand up and tell stories about the incredible times during their racing days. Stories included a garage burning down in Escanaba, Michigan, driving the highway in their modified race car in Michigan to go pick up gas for their truck to pull the trailer home and two drivers not talking for years because of a track disagreement that even happens today in racing. Near the end of the evening, the drivers in attendance posed for photos to mark another time in racing history in short track racing in Sault Ste Marie.
Rev It Up Racing talked to driver Wes Beckett, Wes told us that “most of these drivers haven’t seen or been in the same room together since 1971 when the track closed and this was an incredible opportunity that Donnie and Rick gave these drivers and will cherish it forever. Wes’ son Brad added that his father hasn’t really talked racing for a while until the invite from Varcoe and Ellis and couldn’t stop telling Brad stories about the track until the day arrived on June 12th.