1962 Canadian Winter Rally Report From Autosport Magazine

Earlier this week, Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, from the Ottawa area of Canada, sent me a copy of a story that was published in Autosport Magazine on February 23, 1962 about the 1962 Canadian Winter Rally.  I thought that it was a facinating rally story about this long, tough rally in cars that were much inferior to today’s typical cars.  This event was quite popular as the story notes that there were 183 cars that took the start.

Through some electronic file manipulation, I am able to present this rally story as originally written for Autosport magazine below.  I have added pictures of the some of the car models mentioned in the article, as few of these cars are rarely seen on the road now in North America.  These pictures are not of the actual rally cars and were not part of the original Autosport article.  At the bottom of the story I have attached a pdf file showing the rally route of the 1962 Canadian Winter Rally.




In what was described by other contestants as an incredible performance, Art Dempsey and Paul MacLennan brought their Anglia back to the finish line of the 10th annual Canadian Winter Rally with only four points lost. Their overall win made it two in a row for the Ford product, last year’s controversial event having been won by Silvera and Howell, also in an Anglia.

There were some significant changes in the rules for this year’s rally which together with excellent organization and difficult driving conditions all combined to make it the best one yet.

Acting upon suggestions made by competitors in previous rallies the organizers incorporated two sets of average speeds in the instructions for 1962, the lower averages to be used if the organizers felt road conditions made higher speeds impossible to maintain. Several more check points (all but four were secret) were added, making it imperative to avoid speed fluctuations and keep to the average at all times.

This year saw increased participation by American-made cars. Encouraged by an excellent showing in 1961, Corvairs were there in force, one-tenth of the total entry being of this model. Most of them were using positraction limited s1ip differentials. There were six Studebaker Larks, a 1957 Chev. Sedan, a 1958 Chev. Sedan, a 1962 Ford Fairlane and a lone Valiant.

Of special interest was the team of three 1093 Renaults fresh from the factory and entered by Renault of Canada Ltd. Two of these made a creditable showing and the third car was among several which was filled up with petrol containing much water and was forced to abandon near North Bay with ice throughout its fuel system. Apparently some of the remote stations sell very little gas in the winter time and in consequence get considerable condensation in their storage tanks.

Renault 1093 (image of Renault’s Owner’s Manual for American and Canadian Owners)

This year’s contestants gave special attention to the matter of getting traction on ice for they were forewarned that all but the main highways in the north country were glazed, albeit it is doubtful if many realized how bad conditions actually were.

We saw steel-studded tyres on many cars. These were of several makes. We did not hear of any flats due to the studs pushing in as had been the case in previous years. A number of cars used a soft, natural rubber retread, produced by Don Hambly, who himself is a veteran of the Winter Rally having won the 1960 event. Some used Dominion Royal Syped tread while others put their faith in snow treads in anticipation of a storm.

The first of the l83-car entry left the ramp at Rootes Motors in Toronto at 7 p.m., the others following at two-minute intervals. From there the route headed in a north-easterly direction soon after leaving the metropolitan area. Snow-free and comparatively quiet roads made easy going for most of the contestants as they sped toward the first checkpoint north of Oshawa. Soon after leaving the check it became evident that this run was not going to be a “piece of cake” for conditions steadily worsened as they progressed.

Competitors were routed by devious highways and byways into the Kawartha Lakes region. In this district a thaw followed by a quick freeze had left the roads a sheet of ice walled by banks of frozen snow. Many cars developed tendencies to skate all over the place, and hills and sharp turns required utmost attention on the part of the drivers. The 40.9 m.p.h. average set for this section seemed impossibly high. The Corvair of Petrishen and Halin skidded, went over a bank and landed on its nose. Out of the running, the crew retired to a farmhouse where they spent the remainder of the night.

From Apsley the route meandered eastward through a lonely area of lakes and woodland toward the 20-minute stop at Actinolite, then on to Tamworth. Roads were especially bad in this section and cars began making pock marks in the snow banks at frequent intervals. Vehicles often became airborne after passing over bumps and on landing back on the ice slithered wildly out of control.

Walsh and Edmunds were forced to retire with a bent axle after their VW careered off the road near Cordova Mines and hit a rock. Near Madock the Corvair of Doyan and Gibbs ran off the road and into the woods. Some small trees had to be chopped down before they could get back on the road. It was reported that one of the Land Rovers used by the Press was stuck in this area and had to be towed out by a farmer.

From Tamworth the route led along the western edge of the Rideau Lakes as it headed northward to Calabogie. Here the BMW of Randin and Wrigley retired with a split gas tank. From Calabogie they headed west toward the one-hour stop at Bancroft, being checked at Wolfe and Hybla en route.

At Bancroft, the Hollingshead Co., makers of Whizz products, generously provided breakfast for each contestant and gave away cans of windshield washer, antifreeze, windshield de-icer and “zorbit” for absorbing moisture in gas tanks. This was appropriate for the 28 to 30 degree below zero temperature prevailing in that area. Here Roger Watson and Paul Muir crawled under their Porsche and with rapidly numbing fingers tried in vain to replace a broken clutch cable. They carried on “shifting by the throttle” but were forced to retire near Huntsville with a hole in the sump.

True magazine’s editor Doug Kennedy and navigator Douglas Grewer were experiencing handling difficulties with their Caravelle due to its having been equipped with the wrong size tyres.

After Bancroft came a long monotonous drive over the Haliburton Highlands, stopping at four check points along the way, one of which was timed to the second to provide a tie breaker (other check points were timed to the minute). Most of the roads here were either bare or sanded.

Motoring again became exciting as they approached the Huntsville, Georgian Bay, area and began zigzagging northward over winding back roads. Parry Sound, famous for heavy snow, had the heaviest accumulation in 18 years. Secondary roads, where ploughed at all, were very narrow and surfaced with ice. The toll of cars again mounted rapidly.

The Dodds/Haraldsen Citroen became involved with a non-competing car and was put out of action. The McAllister/Whipple Corvair broke its steering gear near Orrville and SAAB was disqualified for towing the Corvair.

1962 Corvair Monza

Near Mecunoma the ploughs had left a pile of snow at an intersection in such a way that, whereas the instructions read “bear left”, it was now necessary to take an acute left. This caused many to take a wrong road where they became stuck and lost much time. The scores of contestants complaining of this apparent error in directions and the resulting confusion caused the organizers to decree that “no points will be lost by anyone between Magnetawan and North Bay.”

A broken half-shaft put the DKW of Helmut Teubler and Mrs. Claire Stuart out of action near Callander. One-third of the total entry were out before reaching the 10-hour overnight stop at North Bay.

Representatives from Imperial Tobacco Co., sponsors of the Player’s “200”, the Canadian Racing Drivers’ Association’s first race in June, handed out a packet of cigarettes and a lighter to each contestant.

Bad roads confronted the rallyists shortly after leaving North Bay on Sunday morning. We saw several cars plough into the snow bank while attempting to round a particularly difficult turn near Bonfield. A frozen shutter prevented us from filming much of this exciting action.

A short distance beyond we saw children ice-skating in the road. (This was on a straight stretch and they had ample warning of approaching cars.) We watched apprehensively as Don Hambly struggled to maintain his balance as he stepped out of his car to present his card at the bush check near Cheswick. Don is an exceptionally big man and a fall might have meant serious injury.

The Van Wessen/Preston Karmann Ghia ploughed into a snow bank. They were just unfastening their safety belts when a Fiat rammed them farther into the snow. Then Al Sands in a Volvo 544 came along and hit both cars. Some frantic digging and pushing got the cars mobile again.,

The McKenny /LeSage VW slewed up on the frozen bank and turned over. McKenny had a slight cut on his head but they righted the VW and continued to Huntsville. Having lost their route card for this section in the flip, they were unable to follow the prescribed route so missed one check point, but carried on to Toronto.

Eric Jackson of Barnsley, England, and Mike Kerry of Toronto lost 18 points while digging out of a ditch. The roads in this area had been made extremely rough as a result of frost action and Jackson said their Anglia often leaped six feet in the air after hitting frost boils as they strove to make up lost time. Up till this mishap, Eric and Kerry were unpenalized.

Paul Cooke and Maurice Carter had a tense moment when their Corvair planed off one bump, struck its rear wheels on the next bump and nearly stood on its nose. Time lost while having a broken engine mounting welded cost Francis Bradley and Reg Hillary a number of points.

Several people became lost. One crew first realized they were off course when they found themselves on a frozen lake with fishermen angling through the ice on either side of the car.

Rich Dickerson looked up from his calculating to see a tree coming at him. Driver Phil Hare spun the car around and went through the turn backwards, missing the tree.

At mile 77.73 in the last section from Huntsville to Toronto, competitors were instructed to take an alternative course to avoid a 13-mile stretch which was blocked with snow.

Ominous grey clouds darkened the sky as the afternoon wore on and the wind increased steadily, and by dusk it was snowing lightly. Soon a fine, powdery film spread over the ice making it as slippery as greased glass, thus adding to the perils of those making their way southward along the difficult route in the Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe area and south toward Toronto. Clouds of snow swirled and billowed behind the machines making it extremely difficult to pass and car after car left the road. Some were ditched so many times that the crews lost count.

The crowd assembled at Rootes waited in tense anticipation as the cars began arriving at the finish. The final outcome was in doubt. MacLennan and Dempsey had been clean at North Bay. Nordell and Pengelly, driving one of the three factory 1093 Renaults, had lost three points on the way to Bancroft by arriving at three check points one minute early.

The 1962 Canadian Winter Rally Was Won By A Team In A Ford Anglia (photo from the Ford Motor Company) 

When MacLennan and Dempsey arrived they were greeted enthusiastically as the winners. Then it was found they had lost four points on Sunday. The Renault was still making its way through the storm. It was carrying three demerits when last heard from. So tension mounted again until, finally, after more than an hour, Nordell and Pengelly arrived to say they had made a wrong turn and gone off course enough to make them late at the subsequent check point so they were 11 more points down, making a total of 14.

Provisional Results

1, Paul MacLennan/Art Dempsey (Anglia), 4 points lost;

2, Fred Hayes/Don Hambly (Corvair), 11;

3, Homer Trotter/Jim Bickham (SAAB), 12;

4, Grant McLean/Bill Leatham (Renault 1093), 13;

5, Sam Nordell/David Pengelly (Renault 1093), 14;

6, D. L. Howell/Bill Silvera (Anglia), 15.”

The route of the 1962 Canadian Winter Rally can be seen by clicking on the attached file below:

1962 Canadian Winter Rally Route Map

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One Response to 1962 Canadian Winter Rally Report From Autosport Magazine

  1. Mike Mazoway says:

    This story mentions Homer A. Trotter. I had the opportunity to meet Homer Trotter back in the early 70’s. He was a unique individual. He had a SAAB dealership in Watertown, NY and had an amazing collection of old SAABs in his scrapyard. He could tell rally stories that those of us who currently rally could not hold a candle to. We purchased a lot of used parts from him back then as we tried to keep our $10 two stroke SAABs running. Most of his NOS SAAB parts were sold to Nick Julian of the Wellwood Garage in Mexico, NY. Nick has quite a few old rally books, gadgets, etc that came from Homer’s collection. Homer was a mentor to Dick Posenauer, my rally mentor back when I first started rallying in 1969. Homer passed away in 1992.

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