Bob & Helen Harvey

Inducted 2004 – Significant Contributor – Drag Racing


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.