Pete Henderson

Pete Henderson in 1916

Inducted 2005

At the turn of the last century, auto racing was in its infancy and was a most dangerous pursuit. Many drivers were killed. One who lived to die quietly many years later was George G. Henderson of Fernie, B.C. Known as Pete, he was – as far as we know – the first Canadian to race as a driver in the famed Indianapolis 500, was the first Canadian to be employed as a works driver for a major automobile manufacturer (Duesenberg), was the first Canadian to compete regularly on the AAA championship circuit, which evolved into USAC and then CART/IRL, and he was, we believe, the first Canadian to win what today would be called an Indy car race – an AAA national championship race on the two-mile board track at Maywood Speedway in Chicago in October, 1917. Born in 1895 in Ontario, Pete went to British Columbia as an infant when his father moved the family to Fernie and started the Fernie Free Press, which is still in business today. In his teens, Pete went to study automotive engineering at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He started his racing career as a riding mechanic in 1915. He drove in his first 500 in 1916 for Eddie Rickenbacker’s team (he was credited with sixth) and his last in 1920, when he finished tenth. It was his last race. He retired and settled in Los Angeles where he died in 1940 while employed as a civilian aircraft inspector for the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Image via Indy 500 archives.

Scott Goodyear

Inducted 2002

Scott Goodyear is one of Canada’s best-known international racers, with experience in sedans, Indy cars and endurance races. In more than two decades of racing, during which he also operated a racing school, Goodyear is best known for his years driving in CART and the IRL. In his four-year Indy Racing League career, he recorded one top-five and two other top-10 finishes in the season point standings, as well as three wins, 14 other top-five finishes and seven other top-10 finishes. He finished in the top 10 five times driving in the Indianapolis 500, including two second-place efforts, the most memorable of which occurred in 1992 when he chased Al Unser Jr. to the finish line in a brilliant final two-lap charge, finishing second by just .043 of a second, the closest margin in race history. His most controversial Indy 500 race came in 1995 when he was ruled to have passed the pace car while leading late in the race. He was disqualified and the race was won by another Canadian, Jacques Villeneuve. Goodyear’s first Indy Car victory came that year at Michigan in the CART Marlboro 500. Six years after his 1980 auto racing debut, Goodyear seized his first title, the 1986 North American Formula Atlantic Championship, following a season in which he won five of nine races. That same year he was named Driver of the Year by the Canadian Race Drivers Association. Goodyear currently resides in Carmel, Indiana, with his wife Leslie and their three children.

Eldon Rasmussen

Inducted 2001

Eldon Rasmussen was the second Canadian (after Billy Foster) to race in the Indianapolis 500. Eldon and Billy were supermodified drivers who went on to the big time after competing in the old CAMRA series (Canadian-American Modified Racing Association) that promoted races in British Columbia, Alberta and throughout the western United States. Eldon was a successful driver and continues to be a race engineer, designer, builder and fabricator. He started building at the age of 9 when he put together a soap box derby car. He then fashioned a go-kart out of part of an old Model T frame and a lawn-mower engine. He started racing seriously in 1952 on the dirt tracks of Southern Alberta. Racing on pavement in Edmonton and Calgary, he went on to make more than 600 starts with the touring CAMRA series. He won local championships on many occasions and finished second once in the CAMRA series, a circuit that boasted the likes of Foster, Art Pollard, Jim Maloy, Tom and Jerry Sneva, and Cliff Hucul of Prince George, B.C., who followed Billy and Eldon to the big track at Indianapolis. Eldon served on the CAMRA board of directors and was president of the Edmonton Auto Racing Association for many years. He moved to Indianapolis in 1967 but never gave up his Canadian citizenship or Edmonton as his racing address. He ran more than 50 USAC sprint car races before concentrating on the Indy cars. He qualified for three Indianapolis 500s in 1975, ’77 and ’79 (he renewed acquaintances with Sneva in 1975 when they came together in Turn 2 at the Brickyard, leaving Sneva’s car a twisted, smoking wreck). He qualified for 10 other 500-mile races – at Pocono, Pa., and Ontario, Calif. – and 36 other USAC short-track races for Indy cars. He retired from driving in 1979 when he was injured after cutting a tire and crashing during the Pocono 500. But Eldon is better remembered as an engineer, designer, builder and fabricator. (He says one of the reasons that he didn’t start driving the Indy cars sooner was because his other talents were much in demand. He had to wait four years after moving to the U.S. before he started to drive Indy cars because he was too busy building, tuning and repairing crashed cars for other drivers and teams.) He updated cars for various teams and designed and built his own Indy cars. A visionary, Eldon designed and built some of the first wings for the Indy 500 cars. He designed and built the wing for Gary Beck’s top-fuel dragster in 1972 that contributed to Beck’s first Top Fuel U.S. Nationals victory, and designed and built the first tall wing in NHRA racing for Joe Amato. He also designed and built the top North American Ice Racing car for Hall of Fame member Tom Jones of Thunder Bay in 1975-76, not to mention the racing motorcycle and sidecar be built for Greg Cox and Bill Davidson of Ottawa in 1975. From 1975-’80, he designed and built 172 Ras-Car rent-a-racer cars for several Mario Andretti Grand Prix International tracks and 380 Ras-Car Can-Am-style go-karts. Eldon continues to be involved with, as he puts it, “anything on wheels” and to this day he is busy building exhaust header systems for Indy cars and various types of pit equipment. And are you ready for this? Much of Sylvester Stallone’s racing film Driven was filmed at the Molson Indy here in Toronto and the person who did the powerplant conversions for the three cars the actors drove in the movie was – you guessed it – Eldon Rasmussen.

Image via Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Grant King

Grant King at 1999 Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame ceremonies in 1999

Inducted 1999

Grant King started building racing cars as a teenager in his hometown of Victoria, B.C. He made his first visit to the Indy 500 (with Canadian builder Rollo Vollstedt) in 1963. From then to the late eighties, Grant King was builder, crew chief or owner of dozens of Indy cars. Grant fielded USAC cars for Al Unser, Canadian Billy Foster, Len Sutton, Sheldon Kinser, Tom Sneva, Gary Bettenhausen and a memorable Pikes Peak car for Mario Andretti. One year, Grant King Racing had three entries in the Indy 500 field.

Image via Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame