Gordon Reelie

Inducted 2004

Gordon Reelie represents a sub-culture of automobile racing that often goes unnoticed: that of the car owner. Gordon Reelie was such an owner. From B.C. to California, his midget race cars were instantly recognized and admired for their preparation and presentation. In fact, one was once displayed at the Vancouver Art Gallery. His infatuation with motorsport began in the 1920s when he first heard the roar of racing engines at Vancouver’s Hastings Park while standing in the backyard of his family’s North Burnaby home. But it wasn’t until after World War II that his career took off. Gordon tried driving once, won and promptly retired. From then until his death in 1994, Reelie’s cars were always contenders for feature wins, if not season championships. He was instrumental in laying out the dimensions for both the Digney and False Creek Speedways – he patterned them exactly after Seattle’s Aurora Stadium – and he was president of the B.C. Midget Auto Racing Association (BCMRA) for several years. He raced up and down the west coast, winning as far south as the famed Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles with Hank Butcher driving. Other famous drivers like Rich Vogler took turns behind the wheel of Reelie’s cars. Palmer Crowell drove for Reelie for 20 years and racked up more than 50 Washington Midget Racing Association victories and several WMRA championships. Dennis Kitts, who wasn’t born when Reelie started racing, won him his last championship, in 1992. Over the years, his cars were powered by Ford V-8-60s, Offenhausers, VWs and whatever else would get them around the track and to the front, including – on the odd occasion – a little nitro.

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