George LeMay was one of the real pioneers of auto racing in Western Canada. He was born in Kindersley, Sask., but later settledin Calgary. When he was discharged from the Navy after World War II, he opened a gas station and auto repair business. Bow Valley Service became the sponsor of his first race car, a stripped down Model T. which he raced in the Lion’s Club races at Calgary and Edmonton and at smaller Alberta fairgrounds in 1947, ’48 and ’49. In 1949, the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) sprint cars toured Western Canada featuring most of the top American dirt track cars and drivers. Some of the local Model T drivers who attended the races as spectators – LeMay among them – got together to form the Alberta Auto Racing Association to promote sprint car racing in Alberta. The inaugural season in 1950 included fairgrounds races in Edmonton, Lacombe, Red Deer, Three Hills, Brooks, Calgary, High River, Nanton, and Lethbridge. When the dust settled at the end of the season, George LeMay was Alberta’s first sprint car champion. He went south to race full-time on the IMCA circuit for several years and in 1953, replaced the Mercury V-8 in his sprint car with a 440 c.i. Ranger aircraft engine. The car was known as the LeMay Ranger. Years later, he restored this car and raced it several times at the annual IMCA Old Timers Reunion race in Arlington, Minnesota. From 1954 until he retired from race driving after the ’59 season, George raced modified stock cars, primarily at Springbank Speedway in Calgary and Edmonton’s Speedway Park. In 1995, he was inducted into the IMCA Hall of Fame. It was well known that George LeMay, being Canadian, put the “international” in the International Motor Contest Association. He passed away in 1996.
Image via The H.A.M.B.