Almost everyone who lives or visits Vancouver Island has heard of the Western Speedway. It is a one-of-kind facility that attracts thousands of people each year. But how many know the history and fascinating evolution of the Speedway? Daryl Crocker, General Manager, certainly does. And what a story he has to tell!
In the fall of 1952, Andy J. Cottyn purchased 62 acres of wilderness in Langford. He had an immense love of racing and wanted to provide a local racetrack. With the help of a few others, he carved out the track, often using his bare hands. With borrowed money, he was able to open the track in 1954. In 1957 he had the track paved and also changed the configuration to a flat oval and increased the size to 4/10ths of a mile, as it remains today. When the original grandstands become structurally unsound, local businesses raised $250,000 to replace them. Those replacement grandstands still solidly stand today! In the early 1970’s, Frank Wille bought out other shareholders and the property has remained in the Wille family ever since.
According to Daryl, people enjoy the Speedway for multiple reasons. “We have a loyal fan base that enjoys the pure classes racing but also the demolition and destruction events. We pride ourselves on being #1 in family fun,” says Daryl. “Fans come from all over the Island, from across Canada and the US, especially for events such as the Strawberry Cup and the Daffodil Cup.”
The Speedway plays a major role in attracting tourists but even more, it offers a safe outlet for young people to exercise their need for speed. It also provides people of all ages a healthy outlet for their competitive natures! Daryl says that “everyone recognizes the importance of the Speedway and most focus on the many positive things it brings to the community.”
Daryl has been General Manger for five years and loves his work. “I have been a diehard racer my whole life so this is the ideal job for me. I love the challenges. To be successful, everyone needs to be heard. I understand that,” he says. “Listening to racers and fans—that’s central to my work.” While the pandemic hit the Speedway hard, Daryl remains optimistic about the 2021 season. “We have such a strong racing community,” he says. “I fully expect things to come roaring back!”Visit Business Listing