John Bird

Inducted 2006 – Competitor – Rally Racing


“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