Jim Hallahan started racing jalopy stock cars in Streetsville, Ont., in 1949 when he was 20. He graduated to late model stock cars five years later and retired from driving those same late models in 1982. In between, he won the track points championship twice at the old Pinecrest Speedway in Ontario and won features and international race championships at Pinecrest, Ont., River Glade, N.B., Fredericton, N.B., Bathurst, N.B., and at Riverside Speedway located near Antigonish, N.S.
Racing primarily in his home province of Ontario for several years, the mid 60s saw Jim often packing up the family – and the racecar – for a summer “vacation” in the Maritimes. He enjoyed great success and was featured as a celebrity racer at many of the events. In 1969 he moved to Nova Scotia after receiving a job offer and an opportunity to drive a stock car for Forbes Chev Olds in Dartmouth.
Veteran Maritime race fans will remember Jim behind the wheel of his familiar number 33, first in the bright orange Forbes-sponsored entry “The Hugger”, then in racecars he co-owned, until his retirement from driving in ’82.
But he didn’t retire from racing – he was just getting started. In 1983, together with other promoters and car owners, Jim spearheaded the creation of the MASCAR touring race series. In the late 1980s, while serving as president of MASCAR, Jim negotiated for the tour drivers to race through the streets of Halifax during the Moosehead Grand Prix weekends, bringing even more prestige to the successful Maritime stock car racing series.
Besides becoming an active and effective promoter, Jim was instrumental in helping son Jim Jr. and daughter Debbie to begin their racing careers. Debbie was showing great promise and was a rookie on the MASCAR circuit when she died in a racing crash in 1984.
Jim has tried on several occasions to retire but the lure of the speedways keeps pulling him back. “It’s the love of the sport, I guess,” said a humble Hallahan. “Even when we’re not racing at home we plan our vacations around other races. We get back from Toronto after the induction next week then start packing to leave a few days later for Bristol, Tenn. – a NASCAR race. That’s the way it’s always been for us. It’s a way of life.”
In addition to his racing duties, Jim has been a tireless worker for charity over the years and has been involved with, among others, the Boys and Girls Club of Dartmouth, the Children’s Wish Foundation and Rainbow Haven, a summer camp for underprivileged children.
Jim resides in Dartmouth with his wife Elizabeth (Liz) and, at 72, works three jobs. Besides his duties with Scotia Speedworld and the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour he still works with Forbes Chev Olds. Liz also works with Scotia Speedworld and the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour as well as being involved with numerous charities.
Jim Hallahan has made invaluable contributions to and is a credit to his sport. But his legacy goes beyond racing to include to his family, his friends, his work and his community.
Image via Ontario Oval