One of the most outstanding short-track open-wheel racers, Edmonton’s Norm Ellefson, began in 1952 at Calgary’s Springbank Speedway when he was 20, and his career continued until almost the turn of the new century.
During this time, Ellefson was a dynamo in Sprint Car and Super Modified action throughout Western Canada and in the Northwest United States. He also raced fendered race cars in the NASCAR West stock car series, winning his fair share of events in the 1970s.
But it is the Sprint Car and Super Modified racing that he is best known for, and while all his accolades are too many to note here, there are some moments in Ellefson’s career which really stand out.
He won the Canadian-American Modified Racing Association title three times, in 1966, 1967, and 1969. He captured some of the biggest events in Super Modified racing, including the Copper Cup in Salt Lake City, The Billy Foster Memorial in Victoria, and the Gold Cup in Edmonton.
But he also excelled in Sprint Cars as well, as this example demonstrates:
The Minnesota State Fair Grounds was holding an event in 1969 which was big, with 143 Sprinters vying to make the 44-starter show. The event was held in four races, three 50-lappers and then the big 200-lap main. Ellefson won the first and second 50s, placed fourth in the third, and won the 200-lapper as well. This was accomplished with a traditional roadster, but in 1971 Ellefson showed up at the Fair Grounds with an unconventional rear-engined car with a small powerplant built by noted West Coast car builder Jim Tipke. While the car was very quick and handled well, there was no clutch or starter, and Ellefson would have to wait for a push-truck to help when he spun out on some oil on the track. The car did become successful with impressive outings and victories.
Along with his Super Modified racing, Ellefson also raced in USAC events in the Northwest US with the likes of Tom Sneva, Gordon Johncock, and Mario Andretti, but admitted road circuit racing was not for him.
Ellefson has received numerous accolades for his career, including induction into the Inland Empire Motorsport Hall of Fame, his involvement with the Edmonton Kinsman Sports Celebrity dinner, and his guest speaking appearances at racing and auto-related functions.
News clipping image via Racin’ through the rain drops