Back, L to R: Brad Francis, Greg Ozubko, Simon Menzies, Alan Kenny, Kevin Power, Rob Flynn, Gary Beck, Bob Papirnick, Eddy Bryck, Ray Peets, Don MacCallum and Robert Slater. Front, L to R: Greg Nickerson, Al Billes, Jim Wildgoose, Suzanne Poirier (Gérard Milette’s crew chief and partner), John Scotti (CDRHoF founder, kneeling), Gérard Milette, Robert Bannon, and Bob Aubertin. Images courtesy of RBPhotographie.
Drag racing has its fans—and legends—from all across North America. In 2015, noted Montreal car dealer, well-known classic-car collector and holder of an 8.08-second time slip, John Scotti, established the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame with an initial class of 38 inductees, giving the drag racers from the Great White North their own place of permanence. In 2016, an additional 23 legends were added to the hall and with 2017’s recent class of 22 honorees, the Hall of Fame now boasts of 83 greats.
Held at the Sheraton Hotel in Laval, Quebec, on November 18, the induction ceremony honored plenty of people whose names will be familiar to American racing fans, as well as a few names of some folks who just got things done behind the scenes. In a statement released by the Hall of Fame, John Scotti said, “Each individual inducted into the Hall of Fame, strengthens the legacy of the sport of drag racing. It’s an honour to welcome these legends and pay tribute to their outstanding accomplishments.”
The Hall of Fame honored a vast variety of professions in the industry beyond just the wheelmen, including crew chiefs, engine builders, chassis builders, mechanics, track owners, announcers, and even a graphic artist. The full list is below.
A track announcer for four decades at Napierville, Quebec, and Sanair drag ways, Aubertin is now the director of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Bannon was the first Quebecer to win a national event in the U.S. as the 1972 NHRA World Series Champion. His trophy case includes about 10 NHRA and IHRA events along with an IHRA national record in GSA class.
One of the NHRA’s Top 50 Drivers, the American-born Beck moved to Edmonton in 1969. A contender from almost the moment he first strapped into a Top Fuel car, Beck won 19 NHRA races as well as a pair of championships in IHRA. He was also the first driver to run in the 5.5s, 5.4s, and 5.3s back in the early Eighties.
Son of Canadian racing great Dave Billes, Al Billes has woven his own legendary work into the fabric of the sport, starting at age 15 in a Super Pro Camaro. With a host of NHRA and IHRA wins to his name, Billes now has also become a go-to engine builder and tuner.
Owner of the NHRA record for the most perfect runs ever, Bryck got his start in 1961 racing street rods. Still competing with his son in Super Gas with a highly customized ’27 Ford Model T, Bryck also has built a solid reputation as the owner of The Chassis Shop, building cars for Canadians champs since 1975.
Guy Drouin, Quebec City (posthumous inductee)
Founding member of the Quebec 1/4 mile dragway in Pont-Rouge.
Rob Flynn, Edmonton, Alberta
Respected crew chief who has worked with several Top Fuel and Funny Car racers.
Though in recent decades Brad Francis has made his mark as an engineer in circle track and road racing series, working with such top teams as Roush Fenway, Richard Childress, and Andy Petree, Francis got his start behind the wheel of drag car, setting a record in NHRA K Gas class. As an engineer and team manager, Francis has earned titles in drag racing, IMSA, Trans-Am, Can-Am, Winston Cup, Nextel Cup, Busch Series, and Nationwide Series
Gordon Jenner got his start in drag racing at age 15 when he borrowed his father’s car, earning a runner-up finish his first time out. He also became a crew chief for the prominent Hodgson-Bonin-Jenner team.
Jeg Coughlin, Jr. (L) with Alan Kenny.
Alan Kenny, Kingston, Ontario
World Champion car builder and racer, winner of seven NHRA national events, finished in the national points top 10 three times in three different classes
Well-known Hemi racer Don MacCallum has won a bunch of titles and shootouts at tracks throughout the U.S. and Canada. Racing a Hemi Barracuda in SS/AA, MacCallum has twice won the Hemi Shootout at the U.S. Nationals. On top of his stellar driving, MacCallum has also run Don MacCallum Machine since 1981, building high-performance engines of all makes.
Winner of 14 nationals events and the 1978 AHRA Alcohol Funny Car championship, Simon Menzies later served as president of Simpson Safety and consulted as a safety advisor to the NHRA, AHRA, and CART and USAC, as well.
Gérard Milette, Saint-Étienne-des-Grès, Quebec
A long-time racer, Gérard Milette earned a Top Sportsman title at the NHRA Carolina Nationals in 2016 in a 1963 Corvette built and prepared by Milette and his wife, Suzanne Ghézabelle Poirier, his team manager and a welder by trade.
A frequent competitor at Sanair, Redding, Englishtown, and New England Dragway, Greg Nickerson was the first person from the Maritime Provinces to win a Grand National. Starting out in the Seventies, racing a T-bucket with his brother Don, Greg Nickerson still races today, in a 1994 Firebird.
A graphic artist who got his start drawing the cars that first inspired him at Edmonton International Speedway, Greg Ozubko put his passion and his talent together to create GOS Motorsport Graphics, which has won a string of NHRA National Best Appearing Car awards since 1997.
A legendary crew chief, car builder and Funny Car racer, Bob Papirnick was the first Canadian driver to post a 200-mph run in a nitro-powered Funny car. He continues to build winning race cars to this day.
A racer from a young age, Ray Peets became a world-class engine builder, operating out of his Reliable Engine Services shop that he opened in 1966. When Gary Beck with the 1974 NHRA Top Fuel World Championship, it was in front of a Ray Peets-built engine.
John Philipps, Toronto, Ontario
Driving force behind Ford of Canada’s involvement in the sport of professional drag racing.
A drag racer as a young man, Kevin Power bought the Raceway Park in Oyster Bed Ridge, Prince Edward Island, along with two partners, both of whom he has since bought out. Power continues to run the dragstrip at Raceway Park.
A long-time Funny Car race, Herb Rodgers raced throughout the U.S. and Canada and even represented his home nation at an invitation only even in Japan in 1995 in a career that spanned four decades. Rodgers held the distinction of being the first driver to break into the five-second E.T. with an alcohol funny car on Canadian soil.
A precision machinist, Robert Slater raced for 30 years, winning track points championships at drag strips in Ontario and New York and Stock Eliminator title at the 1982 NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown.
The founder of Wildgoose Performance, Jim Wildgoose has set 15 NHRA class records during a long career racing. He also also acted as the Canadian distributor for Mickey Thompson Tires.