Bruce Simpson

bruce simpson

Inducted 2006

“Always play to win.” That was the motto of the rally team of John Bird and Bruce Simpson – and win they did. As a team, they entered 140 rallies and won 107. A few times they were merely close, recording 12 seconds and 5 thirds. That is a record unmatched in motorsport. The record shows that John Bird, a university professor, was Canadian Rally Champion in 1963, 1964, 1965 and Bruce Simpson, an elementary school teacher, won the title in 1966. In those days the Fidler Trophy was given to the winner of the National Rally Championship. There was no separate category for drivers and navigators as is the case today. They won four consecutive events with losses of 0, 1, 0, 0 penalty points. John Bird still insists that the organizers made the mistake on the second of those four rallies. This all took place at a time when rallying attracted a large number of competitors and 100-car fields were not unusual. The team of Simpson and Bird defined rally excellence in Canada against all comers. They became legend not just for their ability to win but for the way they went about winning. They were all business, but they also indulged their other interests as they competed, listening to football games and cheering for their respective teams – John supporting the Argos and Bruce for the TiCats. John Bird entered the ultimate Canadian rally, the Shell 4000, six times and won it twice while navigating for driver Klaus Ross. Ross and Bird were the only team ever to win it back-to-back, in 1964 and 1965. John and Bruce each won the Ontario Rally championship seven times. Bruce won it seven consecutive years from 1963 to 1969. John missed in 1964 but won it in 1962. John, Bruce and Paul Manson shared the Wilson Trophy for most active competitor of the year in 1965. Bruce also won it in 1963. They also had success rallying with others. John Bird navigated for a number of other drivers on 100 rallies winning 37. Bruce Simpson won 14 of 27 rallies while driving for other navigators. He also won 50 rallies while navigating for several other drivers on 97 rallies.

John Bird

Inducted 2006

“Always play to win.” That was the motto of the rally team of John Bird and Bruce Simpson – and win they did. As a team, they entered 140 rallies and won 107. A few times they were merely close, recording 12 seconds and 5 thirds. That is a record unmatched in motorsport. The record shows that John Bird, a university professor, was Canadian Rally Champion in 1963, 1964, 1965 and Bruce Simpson, an elementary school teacher, won the title in 1966. In those days the Fidler Trophy was given to the winner of the National Rally Championship. There was no separate category for drivers and navigators as is the case today. They won four consecutive events with losses of 0, 1, 0, 0 penalty points. John Bird still insists that the organizers made the mistake on the second of those four rallies. This all took place at a time when rallying attracted a large number of competitors and 100-car fields were not unusual. The team of Simpson and Bird defined rally excellence in Canada against all comers. They became legend not just for their ability to win but for the way they went about winning. They were all business, but they also indulged their other interests as they competed, listening to football games and cheering for their respective teams – John supporting the Argos and Bruce for the TiCats. John Bird entered the ultimate Canadian rally, the Shell 4000, six times and won it twice while navigating for driver Klaus Ross. Ross and Bird were the only team ever to win it back-to-back, in 1964 and 1965. John and Bruce each won the Ontario Rally championship seven times. Bruce won it seven consecutive years from 1963 to 1969. John missed in 1964 but won it in 1962. John, Bruce and Paul Manson shared the Wilson Trophy for most active competitor of the year in 1965. Bruce also won it in 1963. They also had success rallying with others. John Bird navigated for a number of other drivers on 100 rallies winning 37. Bruce Simpson won 14 of 27 rallies while driving for other navigators. He also won 50 rallies while navigating for several other drivers on 97 rallies.

Jean-Paul Perusse

Inducted 2004

Jean-Paul Perusse became interested in rallying in the mid-1960s when he was studying engineering. His first major rally was the Shell 4000. Fiat gave him a Fiat 128 to enter in the 1972 Canadian Winter Rally and he beat his teammate, rally superstar Andrew Cowan. He won the Winter Rally again in 1973 and ’74. Then began what can only be called a Perusse domination of the rally scene, winning the Canadian Rally Championship in 1975 and ’76. Included in his victories was the 1976 Winter Rally, his fourth in five years, and he beat rally legend John Buffum in the process. He switched manufacturers and drove a Saab for several years but, in late 1976, he moved to British Leyland and ran a Triumph TR7 in 1977. Not long after, Perusse cut back on his rallying and went ice racing until he was called back to the scene by his old friend, John Buffum. Jean-Paul drove a Volkswagen GTI to win the 1987 Group A class in the North American Rally Cup, which combines results from both Canada and the United States. In the early 1990s, he again left rallying and returned to ice racing, winning two Quebec championships. By the turn of the century, he was rallying again in his old VW GTI. He showed the younger generation how it was done in 2001 by finishing tenth and fourth in a series of Quebec rallies. The came the 2002 Percce Neige, where he was faster than many of his opponents, eventually finishing sixth overall and first in his class. Today, he is still in the driver’s seat, planning on even more seasons, proving that you can’t keep a superb rallyist down.

Image via Motorsport.com

Taisto Heinonen

Taisto Heinonen & Tom Burges win the 1979 Pacific Forest Rally

Inducted 2003

As his nominations papers state, Taisto Heinonen’s record shows that he stands at the top of the class of Canada rallysport drivers. He heads the small group of drivers who have attained Grand Master status (over 2,000 points) with a lifetime total of 5,580 points – some 800 ahead of the rest. Heinonen racked up a total of 40 victories in Canadian national events in his relatively short driving career and captured five national championships between 1977 and 1982, when he retired from competition. During that time, he was primarily responsible for Toyota winning the Marques Championship six times. The car control demonstrated by Taisto Heinonen was awesome. He seemed to do the impossible, especially in snow and ice and he rarely crashed. He always seemed to be able to “dig deeper’` when necessary to overcome the opposition. He was also a constructor, building his own cars, including the factory entries when he ran for Toyota. The cars were professionally constructed and maintained and seldom did he drop out of an event because of mechanical failure. Taisto started rallying in Finland, the country of his birth, in 1964. He immigrated to Canada in 1970 and entered rallying in this country in 1971. One of the reasons he did as well in winter conditions was that he won the B.C. Region Ice Racing Championship three straight years from 1974 through ’76. He retired from competition in 1983.

Image via Pacific Forest Rally

Walter Boyce

Inducted 2003

Walter Boyce is a Canadian rallysport hero. He is the only Canadian rally driver ever to win an FIA World Championship Rally. Teamed with co-driver Doug Woods, he decisively won the 1973 Press-On-Regardless Rally. He is one of the few Canadians to have been seeded by the FIA and the only North American ever ranked in the top seed. Additionally, Boyce scored countless Canadian and SCCA sanctioned event victories during his career, including the Canadian Winter Rally and the Rally of the Rideau Lakes. His record of five consecutive Canadian National Championship titles has never been equaled. Entering his first rally in 1967 with his brother Harry navigating in his mother’s Mercury Comet, Walter took just two years to hit his stride on the national stage. Between September 1969 and March of 1971, he entered 21 Canadian National Championship rallies (including 4 FIA listed international events) and recorded 10 wins, 5 places and 6 DNF’s. 1969 also included a third overall in the famous Press-On-Regardless, his favourite event. He even competed in and won the Cannonball Run – One Lap of America in 1985. Not content to just compete in rallies, Walter Boyce has written about the sport in a number of Canadian publications, assisted in event presentation and was the President of Outaouais Valley Autosport Club.

Tom Burgess

Inducted 1998

For more than 35 years, Tom Burgess blazed across the rally trail in Canada and the United States as a competitor. His record speaks for itself: 39 National victories, six National championships and two North American championships. He was National Rally Director from 1984 to1986, President of the B.C. Region of the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs in1975 and ’76 and B.C. Rally Director in 1973 and ’74, and, as a member of the National Rally Committee, helped to write the Canadian Rally rulebook.

Image by Jerry Winkler