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The last lap: The Westshore Speedway's final day, in photos

After 68 years, Canada's oldest speedway has closed down

By James MacDonald
September 29, 2022
Photography
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

The last lap: The Westshore Speedway's final day, in photos

After 68 years, Canada's oldest speedway has closed down

By James MacDonald
Sep 29, 2022
Jim Steen sits in the pit lane, just prior to his final race at the Westshore Speedway after 68 years of racing there. Photos: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Jim Steen sits in the pit lane, just prior to his final race at the Westshore Speedway after 68 years of racing there. Photos: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Photography
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

The last lap: The Westshore Speedway's final day, in photos

After 68 years, Canada's oldest speedway has closed down

By James MacDonald
September 29, 2022
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The last lap: The Westshore Speedway's final day, in photos
Jim Steen sits in the pit lane, just prior to his final race at the Westshore Speedway after 68 years of racing there. Photos: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

It is loud—almost deafening—and all the more so when a nearby car revs its engine. It’s dusty, too: that dusty feel an Islander knows well after months and months of little to no rain when the air gets saturated with it.

Amid the whirl of cars and gasoline fumes are the mechanics, drivers, and fans who are all saying farewell to a Westshore institution: the Westshore Speedway.

A track official watches the cars race past the stands at the Westshore Speedway on the final night of racing after 68 years in Langford.

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Cars, drivers, and pit crews gather on the home stretch to meet fans, sign autographs, and chat in between the opening races and the main events.

This 643-metre paved track was founded in 1954 and was Canada’s oldest speedway, hosting likely millions of fans—3,000 at a time—and thousands of cars during its 68-year run. Between April and September every year, the track hosted races for stock cars, late models, Old Time Racing Association cars, sprint cars, drag racers, and monster trucks. It even hosted NASCAR series events from 1970 to 1989. 

Cars speed around the first corner.
The Miss Westshore Motorsport Queens get ready to hand out trophies.

Through it all, there has been no other driver who has recorded as many circuits around its track than Jim Steen. Jim began racing in the 1940’s at the age of 16, and when the newly built Westshore Speedway opened in 1954, Jim was there to race its first season. Sitting in the pit lane on the final night of racing, 68 years later, and surrounded by his crew and his son Kerry, Jim is easygoing and chatty, though looking as frail as any 84 year old might be. 

Steen poses for a portrait after his last race at the Westshore Speedway. He is retiring, one month before his 85th birthday.

However when he climbs into his blue and gold Street Stock car, he looks as comfortable and as determined as any other driver on the grid. When the green flag drops, he is instantly in the thick of it—tucking in behind cars in front, passing, being passed, tapping bumpers, and sailing across the line in the middle of the pack. After the race, I ask if he has plans to keep at it after tonight. 

“No!” he quickly replies. “I’m done after tonight, I’m retiring. I turn 85 next month.”

Jim Steen sits in the pit lane, just prior to his final race at the Westshore Speedway after 68 years of racing there.
Steen’s car, number 34, races down the home stretch at the Westshore Speedway during his final race.
Steen is interviewed following his first race of the night at the Westshore Speedway.

After all the races—all 68 years of them—Steen was given the honour of the final lap at the track. His engine revved, the fans roared, and then the Westshore Speedway was silent.

A farewell to the track is posted across the bumper of a race car.
Fans pack the stands for the final night of racing.
Cars and drivers in the pit section of the Westshore Speedway.
Cars speed past the crowd during the final night of racing.
Cars, drivers, and pit crews gather on the home stretch to meet fans, sign autographs, and chat in between the opening races and the main events.
The Westshore Speedway emergency crew watches as cars fly around the track.
A pit crew member rests atop a race car in the pits.
Two young fans react to an early event race.
A driver looks back as the car line up in the pit lane prior to a race.
The winning cars from one of the main event races spins doughnuts in front of the stands.
A track official watches the cars race past the stands.
Cars speed past the crowd.
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The last lap: The Westshore Speedway's final day, in photos
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