The end of Western Motorsports Park was a devastating blow to thousands of motorsport participants and fans – not just in Langford and the West Shore communities, but across the entire region, according to racer and racing fan Brandon Carlson.
Carlson grew up around the track – commonly known as Western Speedway – and watched as his father worked as a mechanic on the cars of Darrell Midgley, whose family was a big part of the racing culture at Western Speedway and took over operations there.
“The end of the speedway was really sad,” said Carlson. “It was a big part of a lot of people’s lives and when it closed, it was like a hockey arena closing in a small town. It was a tough thing to take.”
But one sub-section of the speedway’s fans found a modicum of solace with the launch of a documentary film called “DEMO DUMMIES, Hit-to-Pass-Racing.”
The film, directed by Todd Harris, was launched a few months ago and chronicles some of the more insane moments of the speedway’s existence – specifically, the demolition-based hit-to-pass racing that was a regular feature at the track.
Hit-to-pass racing was an adrenaline-pumping motorsport in which drivers who were arguably inclined to meanness entered stock vehicles in a special racing format in which drivers were obligated to make contact with another vehicle at least once per lap. Drivers who completed the most laps won the bulk of the money for the race, and prizes were also awarded for the last car that could still roll along under its own power.
Well, it sort of was.
Keith Hansen (also known as Doctor Death) was a regular at the speedway hit-to-pass races and summed up his mindset during his appearance in the documentary.
“I want to hit you so hard to break your car and get you out of the race and go on to the next guy. There’s no better pleasure. You get in your car and like anything goes,” Hansen said. “If I ain’t hitting anyone, I ain’t having fun.”
He explained that the sport was ideal for those people who were too ill-tempered to play hockey or football.
And while it’s probably fair to say that anyone who isn’t a motorsport fan may not have the first clue about the activity, the documentary film streaming on YouTube does a great job of providing the answers to all the natural questions about the sport.
The film, launched a few months ago, can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFaAc7Gf42k. The film relives some of the more incredible moments of the sport and provides insights into what sort of individuals chose to participate in the extreme activity.
But while it might be arguably insane, the sport was incredibly popular with the fans.
“Demolition was very popular,” said David Crocker, the former manager of the Westshore Motorsports Park. “The events were typically sold out and it was only growing in popularity. It was a great economic driver for the community.”
Cody Young, one of the ardent demolition racers at the speedway right up to its closure, began his racing career at the age of 13.
“We lied on the form so I could start racing. My whole family raced demos and I couldn’t wait to start.”
Young doesn’t race much since the speedway closed and said that since the nearest track (Saratoga Speedway) is a three-hour drive from Victoria, the trip isn’t feasible from an economic perspective.
Another option for racing fans might be found on an app launched by the Remembering Western Speedway public group on Facebook. Users can download their chance to try their hand at hit-to-pass racing (albeit virtually) with the promise that other styles of racing will be added soon.
Still, for the true racing fans, the online options are a pale imitation of the actual events.
“I’m not really into that stuff,” said Young. “It’s not real. You can’t get the same rush from stuff like that.”
READ MORE: ‘Disgusted’: Dog poop lingers in parks in defiance of Metchosin animal bylaw