Bob & Helen Harvey

Inducted 2004

A life-long citizen of Sparta, Robert (Bob) Harvey was a man who was always concerned about his community. A young employee of the nearby St. Thomas dry cleaning business made frequent stops in Sparta. As bundles of clothes were being picked up, the Harveys frequently invited the driver in for supper. The young fellow was an active hot rodder named Doug Kennington. During one of these mealtime discussions, Kennington took the opportunity to explain his concerns over the state of racing in the community. As the Harveys listened, Kennington told them that local hot rodders needed a drag strip set up in that area of the province to provide a safe and professional place to race their cars. After a visit to Detroit Dragway, Bob Harvey announced that he would build his own drag strip on an unused parcel of land in Sparta. St. Thomas Dragway opened in the spring of 1962 and quickly became a landmark drag racing facility in Canada. It became the first drag strip outside the United States to be sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association. In 1963, the track was given a coveted regional meet to host. This again was another first for the NHRA, being the first major regional meet outside the U.S. St. Thomas went on to host drag meets that attracted some of the finest racers on the continent. After her husband died, Helen Harvey chose to keep the track open for racers of all classes. Helen was one of the most unique women in motorsports. In 1962, at a time when women didn’t get involved with automobile racing, she was as important a member of the building process of St. Thomas Dragway as anyone. In fact, from the opening day in the spring of 1962 until the day she sold the track to John Fletcher in 1989, she was at every single event ever held at the racing facility.Bob andHelen Harvey created a legacy when they built St. Thomas Dragway and their mark on drag racing in Canada will never diminish.

Doug Kennington

DJ Kennington crests the hill leading into Mosport’s Turn 2.

Inducted 2004

Independent, dedicated, versatile and determined. For more than 40 years, Doug Kennington has displayed those qualities at drag strips and oval tracks throughout Canada. Fuelled by a passion for motorsports and a single-minded determination to succeed on the road of his own choosing, Kennington has created a wide-reaching legacy that has left an indelible mark on the Canadian racing scene. It was Doug Kennington who convinced local businessman Bob Harvey to build St. Thomas Dragway and he became the driving force behind the new facility. As well as overseeing the operation, he was Technical Director and he also raced. With a young family and a growing business, Doug eventually backed away from St. Thomas. It wasn’t until young son DJ started in go-karts that Doug got involved in the sport again. Faced with the choice of going drag racing or oval racing, young DJ opted for stock cars. By all accounts, Doug was always a ‘MOPAR Man’, regardless of what he raced on the track. Although successful in a ’52 Olds, a sedan Willys and several other makes, Doug’s heart always belonged to one certain brand. The Kenningtons’ decision to race MOPARs on stock car ovals was anything but the easy route to take. But their perseverance paid off in spades. In 1996, powered by Doug Kennington-built MOPAR motors, DJ captured the CASCAR Sportsman track championship at Delaware Speedway, as well as his first CASCAR Super Series win. In the time since, they’ve been – more often than not – the top performing MOPAR Super Series team. The team’s level of respect is further evidenced by its long-running sponsorship support from Castrol Canada.

Image courtesy of Gary Grant.