Oakville, Ont., stock car driver, Don Biederman, was known primarily for his aggressive manner on short-track speedways. But he drove the big speedways as well and was the first Canadian to campaign full-time on the NASCAR Grand National circuit (now Winston Cup). He finished 39th in points in 1967, a campaign won by Richard Petty but including such names as Bobby Allison, David Pearson and Cale Yarborough. Don was more than a driver – he built the car that Dave Marcis drove in his first Daytona 500 in 1965 – and he’s credited with paving the way for compatriots like Earl Ross and Roy Smith “to go south.” Frequently described as an original who had the fire to win every time he got behind the wheel of a stock car, his presence at any speedway was enough to generate excitement. Described as crusty, cantankerous, opinionated and outspoken, he was one of the greatest short-track racers of his time. Famous for his activities in and around Southern Ontario at tracks such as Cayuga, Pinecrest, Flamboro, Peterborough and Delaware, where he won numerous races and championships, Don also raced across the border at Lancaster, Holland and Perry in New York state as well as in the Maritimes at speedways such as Riverside in Nova Scotia and River Glade in New Brunswick. This is where he would go head-to-head with arch-rival (and Hall of Fame member) Junior Hanley. In fact, he was instrumental in convincing Hanley to relocate to Oakville so they could race against each other more often. A man who built race cars and drove them for a living, Don would often start out on Wednesday night at Kalamazoo Speedway, race at Mount Clements Speedway on Thursday (both located in Michigan), cross back into Canada for a meet Friday night at Delaware Speedway near London, race Saturday night at Pinecrest Speedway in Toronto and then head right out for a big-money raced somewhere on Sundaqy afternoon. His greatest achievement was winning the 1977 Oxford 250 in Oxford, Me., where he beat many of the established Winston Cup stars of the day. Don was not averse to putting up the dukes if he thought someone was cheating him out of money and was at war on a number of occasions with promoters and speedway operators. But there was another side to Don that was not evident at the speedway: away from the track he quietly helped some of his fellow competitors such as Howie Scannel and Norm Lelliott, with parts and advice. He also quiety donated time and equipment to restoration projects. He liked nothing more than to see famous old stock cars and superrmodifieds restored to their former glory. But let’s not forget that first and foremost, Don Biederman was a character. When his shop was broken into in 1984, Don bought advertising space in two of the Toronto newspapers and published this message. “I hope you crash and burn with those parts.” Don Biederman was greatly admired for his passion and dedication. When he died in 1999, the outpouring of grief was overwhelming and impressive, considering that many of the people mourning his passing – fellow competitors, promoters, officials, journalists and fans – had just about all been the recipient of Don’s outspokenness at one time or another.
Image via Stock Car Racers Reunion