MONTREAL, Que. (November 28, 2019) – For the fifth straight year, the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame (CDRHF) recognized the significant contributions of a select group of Canadians considered by their peers to be legends in the world of competitive drag racing.
Among the 16 Canadian nominees from across Canada and the U.S. inducted this year are four world champions, and—for the first time since the CDRHF was founded—father and son nominees. To date, 116 Canadians have been inducted into the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame, 15 of them posthumously.
“As in previous years, each of the individuals nominated has had considerable input into the sport of drag racing. Their influence is felt to this day and it is thanks in part to their impressive legacy that the sport enjoys the popularity it does,” says John Scotti, founder of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame. “It is indeed an honour to pay tribute to their outstanding accomplishments as we welcome these new legends into the Hall of Fame.”
The induction ceremony was held November 16, during the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame’s Fifth Annual Induction Gala, held at the Sheraton Laval Hotel Convention Centre in Laval, Quebec. About 130 drag racing champions, drivers, crew chiefs, engine and chassis builders, mechanics, track owners, announcers, and graphic designers from across Canada and the United States were in attendance.
All inductees received the custom-tailored CDRHF blue blazer and an engraved custom-designed CDRHF ring. As is tradition, this year’s inductees were invited to sign the organization’s official Book of Honour, adding their signature alongside those of fellow inductees from previous years.
To be nominated, candidates must reside in or be an expatriate of Canada, have actively been engaged at the top level of their categories for more than 25 years and must have made a tangible or considerable contribution to the sport. Some categories may require that candidates have established a national record as an individual or as a member of a team (National Hot Rod Association, International Hot Rod Association, or American Hot Rod Association national record or national event win). Inductees may also come from other areas of the sport, such as photography and track operations.From left: Jay Adam (son of posthumous inductee Jim Adam), Tom Craig, Ed DeCooman, Roger Lafontaine, Eric Latino, Joe Van Overbeek, Charles Beatty, George Sitko, Bob Reynolds, Ken Sitko, René Gosselin, Rolly Doucet, Harry Hibbs, Kenny Lang, Ken Reich, Mike Adam (son of son of posthumous inductee Jim Adam). Front: Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame founder John Scotti.
Photo credit: Stacee Richards
About the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame: Located in Montreal, Que., the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame was founded in 2014 by John Scotti, president of John Scotti Automotive Group, as a tribute to drag racing professionals in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro-Stock and Sportsman categories. The Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame, with new headquarters at 4475 Metropolitain Boulevard in Montreal’s east end, will soon open its museum to the public, allowing fans and participants alike to enjoy the many displays of drag racing paraphernalia—including race cars—donated by some of the sport’s biggest names.
Visit the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame: https://cdrhf.com/
About drag racing: Imagine sitting in a rocket that delivers 5 Gs, or a gravitational force of five times your body weight. Except there’s no pressurized cabin between you and all those Gs, and instead of space, you’re hurtling down a ¼ mile course at more than 332 miles an hour. Almost as old as the history of the automobile itself, drag racing began when we first discovered our thirst for speed. It is the fastest and quickest form of professional motorsport racing in the world today and its popularity continues to grow. Those who race have the courage to take control of a 10,000-horsepower machine and the expertise to compete side-by-side with another driver to cross the finish line in less than 3.680 seconds. For these, and many other reasons, we salute the extraordinary achievements of Canadians in drag racing, in the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees
1. Tom Craig (hometown: Sarnia, Ont.), driver / mechanic: 1971 U.S. Nationals Class Winner; 1997 National Muscle Car Association Race Winner (twice) and class record holder; 1998-1999 National Street Car Association World Champion (twice); 1998-1999 Series Champion (twice); CANAM Stock/Super Stock race winner; Ontario Street Car Association race winner.
2. Harry Hibbs (hometown: Barrie, Ont.), builder, driver, owner: competed on the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) circuit; competed on the Pro Comp circuit.
3. Joe Van Overbeek (West Lorne, Ont.), builder / mechanic: established Joe Van Overbeek Race Car Bodies in 1994, the first Canadian producer of carbon fiber race car bodies and related items. Cars built or rebuilt by the company set several National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) or International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) records. The latest efforts include this year’s carbon fiber body for the world’s fastest street driven race car driven by Tom Bailey, who broke the five second barrier in the ¼ mile in competition at the Hot Rod Magazine Drag Week series.
4. Ken Sitko (hometown: Edmonton, Alta.), crew chief / mechanic / chassis builder / engine builder / driver: winner (with father George Sitko) of all 4 races in the 1981 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Canadian division championship; winner of the 1985 American Drag Racing World Championship (ADRA) and the ADRA World Finals in Spokane, Wash.; mentor to the winner of the 2019 NHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals; son of George Sitko.
5. George Sitko (hometown: Calmar, Alta.), crew chief / tuner / builder / owner / driver: owner of Sitko Engineering; his dragster, truck, trailer and shop were featured in the movie “Fast Company”; fabricated and advised on Gale Banks’ Pontiac Firebird that set the world record of 283 mph at Bonneville Speedway, Utah; fabricated and tuned Donnie Stringfellow’s Datsun that set the world record of 238 mph at Bonneville Speedway; father of Ken Sitko.
6. Bob Reynolds (hometown: Calgary, Alta.), crew / crew chief / driver / owner: winner, Australian Funny Car Challenge (1989); Jerry Verhuel Memorial Sportsman Crew Chief of the Year (1998); National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Division 6 Top Alcohol Funny Car (TAFC) Champion (1998); 6 time Canadian NHRA Open champion; 2 time American Hot Rod Association (AHRA) World Champion; multiple track record holder in Western Canada and the U.S.
7. René Gosselin (hometown: Ste-Marie Beauce, Que.), mechanic / driver: Grand Master Technician Canadian champion (1992); National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) record holder, 1/8 and ¼ mile (2015, 2016).
8. Charles Beatty (hometown: Erindale, Ont.), mechanic / driver: established performance parts store with partner Mike Woods (1969); expanded into building custom engines (1979); modified champion, Cayuga Sport Park (1975); competed in southern Ontario, New York, Indianapolis and Florida (1975-1982).
9. Eddy DeCooman (hometown: Chesterville, Ont.), mechanic / chassis builder / driver: partnered with Rolly Doucet on a new 427 powered SS/D Camaro built exclusively for National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) super stock racing; competed on tracks in Quebec, northeastern U.S. and the NHRA US Nationals at Indianapolis, Indiana; national record holder, national event winner.
10. Rolly Doucet (hometown: Chesterville, Ont.), mechanic / chassis builder / driver: drove stock eliminator and super stock cars at Napierville (mid-1960s); partnered with Eddy DeCooman on a new 427 powered SS/D Camaro built exclusively for National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) super stock racing (1969); competed on the super stock circuit in Quebec and northeastern U.S. and the NHRA US Nationals at Indianapolis, Indiana.
11. Eric Latino (hometown: Port Perry, Ont.), builder / driver: winner, Mopar Nationals Nitro Jam, Grand Bend, Ont. (2011); winner, Thunder By The Beach, Grand Bend, Ont. (2011); winner, Shakedown National, Englishtown, N.J. (2012); winner, International Hot Rod Association (IHRA), Grand Bend, Ont. (2012, 2013); winner, Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) US131, Martin, Mi (2014); runner-up, National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) zMAX Dragway, NC (2015); NHRA record quickest 5.72 at 256 mph (2017).
12. Roger Lafontaine (hometown: Anjou, Que.), partnered with Yves Perigny to set 2 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) national records.
13. Ken Reich (hometown: Edmonton, Alta.), driver / crew chief / mechanic / car and team owner: 2012 Crew Chief of the Year for Division 6; 16 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) national records for elapsed time and speed in the competition eliminator class; 21 divisional Wally’s; 2 Division 6 championships; voted Best Engineered Car at Las Vegas Nationals; voted Best Appearing Crew 2010 Seattle NHRA Nationals; national event win for International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) as car owner; 4 NHRA national wins as car owner and crew chief.
14. Kenny Lang (hometown: Grand Pointe Man.), International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Pro Mod world champion (2008).
15. Jim Adam (hometown: Montreal, Que.), speed shop owner; National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) regional advisor; former Canadian national drag racing champion. Posthumous inductee.
16. Mike Woods (hometown: Burlington, Ont.), former team captain of Ford of Canada drag racing team (1968-1969); business partner with Charles Beatty race engine shop. Posthumous inductee.