Ed Leavens

Ed Leavens in the Gorries Corvette at Harewood Acres in 1956

Inducted 1997

Ed Leavens of London, Ont., an extremely successful sports car racer from 1955 to 1962, also competed with Stirling Moss, Bruce McLaren and other notables of the day at Sebring for the BMC factory team in 1959, ’60 and ’61. In 1959, he helped set two land speed records for Austin Healey at Bonneville. He was factory driver for both BMC Canada and for Gorries Chevrolet (Corvettes), driving the latter to victory in the first race ever at Green Acres in 1957.

Image by John Wright via Registry of Corvette Race cars


  1. Donald Leavens says:

    My fathers brother Ed Leavens was also a race car driver. He was called “Cyclone Ed” . Unfortunately he was killed in California in 1934 when a tire blew out and he hit the retaining wall.

    It is of our opinion that Ed Leavens is probably a relative of ours. We know that some of our ancestors migrated to Canada during the revolutionary war and was never heard from again. I was in contact with Jeff Leavens, CEO of “Leavens Aviation” in recent years and we discovered the we were cousins about 5 times removed. Is this Ed Leavens a relative of his?

    • Roger Mitchell says:

      Hi there, just discovered this posting as Ed Leavens was my uncle and yes they migrated from Connecticut to Canada during the American war off independence. The original family name was Canniff. I have more family info if you are interested. Cheers Roger Mitchell, Cranbrook,B.C.

      • Earl Werner says:

        Thanks for the input and thank you for taking the time to give me more information about Ed. As you can tell from my post, he had a profound impact on me as a young man and his loud, aggressive Corvettes were an inspiration to me way back then and that led me into an engineering field of study, all because he took time to thank me for giving him some water for the radiator of his race car by giving me a short ride in it and I was imprinted forever. All the best to you and your family.

        • Roger Mitchell says:

          Hi Earl, isn’t it wonderful when one can look back at seminal life influences, which at the time can appear quite innocuous, but later on help link all the dots! Thanks for your reply and I only wish I had been old enough to have the corvette ride myself.(I was only 6-8 years of age) I would go to the track and watch him race at Mossport against the same Lotus, week in week out. He would loose ground on the straits but make it up in the turns, and appeared to win much of the time. I of course was unbiased and so possibly my memory is somewhat clouded by time.
          Thanks again, cheers Roger Mitchell

  2. Robert Woxman says:

    I worked for Ed Leavens from 1974 to 1979. I was the parts manager at his British Leyland dealer and helped him launch (and close) London Mazda and London Imported Parts. Those two operations were just ahead of the curve.
    Many a day and night was spent laughing and listening to his wonderful stories over a glass of scotch. One story I found particularly hilarious was his Bonneville speed record. He indicated that while you were out running these long laps with no points of reference it was very easy to lose your sense of time and distance. At one point they flagged him into the tent for maintenance. While approaching the tent without the aid of a speedometer he merely blasted through the tent at around 120 mph sending the crew jumping for their lives.
    Ed was a gentleman, story teller, great businessman and I was glad to have him as a friend.

  3. Earl Werner says:

    When I was 11 years old, I worked as a server at the infield hamburger stand at the Harewood Acres Grand Prix track. I was related to Russ Hare, who owned the track and the farm next to it and my home was the farm located across the road from the back gate of Harewood Acres and I used to sneak into the track and watch the races whenever I could.

    One day, while serving customers at the infield hamburg stand, a racer named Ed Leavens came up to the stand asking if he could have five gallons of water to fill the radiator of his 1957 Corvette race car because he had broken a radiator hose in his prior race and needed water to refill the radiator in order to compete in the feature race later that day. Since we had been provided only enough water for coffee, tea and drinking water, my boss, Phil Hare, the youngest son of the track owner Russ Hare, told him we had no water for radiator filling. But being a presistent persuasive guy, Ed returned a few minutes later with a five gallon bucket and referring to me as “hey kid” asked me to fill his bucket and he promised that if I gave him water, he would take me for a ride in his race car after his last race. Wanting to go for this ride so badly, I got my boss, Phil Hare, to agree to let me drain five gallons of water off of the pop cooler trough’s which we kept full of ice for this purpose, and they needed to be drained periodically as we replenished the ice. Ed was delighted and I got that race car ride and while he never knew what he had done to me, he had imprinted me with the inescapable goal of someday working on the Chevrolet Corvette Program.

    While this goal was lofty, to say the least for a farm kid from Sandusk, Ontario, I eventually graduated from Hagersville High School, attended General Motors Institute (GMI) in Flint Michigan where I received my Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering and went to work for GM of Canada in Oshawa, Ontario in 1964. In 1974, GM transferred me to the USA where I pursued my engineering career, working in several assignments at various GM locations until the summer of 1998, when I was appointed the Chief Engineer, responsible for engineering design and the manufacturing plant processing and assembly of the Corvette, working alongside David McLellan, who needs no introduction to Corvette aficionados. Among my varied duties was managing the Corvette Racing Program (Corvette World Challenge) and I became close friends with Canadian team member John Powell from Port Perry, Ontario who was campaigning a couple of World Challenge Corvettes and a driving school at the Mossport Track facility outside of Oshawa. I was privileged to work on the first ZR-1 program, the 1996 Grand Sport and ultimately, I led the team that brought the C5 Corvette to production readiness before retiring from GM. So, without knowing it, Ed Leavens influenced my life irreversibly with that ride in his 1957 Corvette Convertible race car at Harewood Acres. My only regret is that I was never able to share this story with him personally; but I thought that some of you older folks might remember this wonderful track in Nanticoke, Ontario and find this story interesting.

    I still own three rare Corvettes: a 1964 Grand Sport Coupe Replica, a 1996 Grand Sport Serial Number 1000 (the last one) and a 2004 C5 Commemorative Edition ZO6 that is the last year of the series for which I was the Chief Engineer. After leaving GM I took a position as the VP of Engineering and Product Development on the other American Icon product line, at the Harley- Davidson Motor Company where I lead the introduction of many new products including the Twin Cam 88 engine, The V-Rod motorcycle, fuel injection and countless technological innovations in both the products and manufacturing before retiring for the second time in 2004 and now I spend my time riding my Harley’s, polishing my Corvettes and watching racing on television.

    Earl Werner

  4. Jack Doherty says:

    I spent the summer of 1976 working at Leavens Mazda dealer on Oxford as a car cleaner/lot ape/oil change guy . They had a couple Herb Tarlic type salesmen and the big shop activity was swapping out cooked rotary engines under warranty. A nice lady ran a little lunch counter on the end of the building. On quiet days i was dispatched to cut the grass at Ed’s country pile a few miles up the road. It was a good summer before starting at Fanshawe.

    • Earl Werner says:

      I was also imprinted by Ed Leavans when he was competing at Harewood Acres, the grand prix racetrack at the old Jarvis airport with a ’57 Corvette. I was working in the food tent in the infield as a teenager and Ed came over to the tent with a pail to get some water for his race car since he had broken a rad hose in an earlier heat. We did not have extra water, so I gave him 5 gallons out of the Pop cooler which used block ice and he offered me a ride in his car after the feature race. I was hooked! I later went to college, got an engineering degree and went to work for General Motors in Oshawa. Toward the end of my career, I was appointed Chief Vehicle and Assembly Engineer for the Corvette Platform and led the design team for the C5 Corvette, including a driving school for Corvette owners at the Mossport track near Oshawa… n So, Ed LEavans had a lot to do with my engineering career and interest in racing as a young boy raised on a farm in Southern Ontario, Canada.

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