Local motoring legends recognized

by Willy Williamson . Apr 01 2016
Otto So / Winnipeg Free PressGord Brunette (left), Keith MacDonald and Jimbo Fraser (not pictured) were this year’s inductees into the Manitoba Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Otto So / Winnipeg Free Press

Gord Brunette (left), Keith MacDonald and Jimbo Fraser (not pictured) were this year’s inductees into the Manitoba Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Since 2006, Piston Ring’s annual World of Wheels car show has been the venue for the induction of three new members to the Manitoba Motorsports Hall of Fame. Manitoba has a rich motorsports history filled with amazing men and women who have left an unforgettable impact on the local scene. Inductees are recognized for their outstanding devotion and contributions to motorsports in Manitoba and come from the ranks of drag racing, oval track racing, motorcycling, fabrication, customizing, the automotive industry and the street rod and hot rod communities.

This year’s inductees include a longtime hobbyist with a charitable heart, a master fabricator and an award winning drag racer and show car painter.

Special recognition should be given to Don Daley; his dedication to the history of Manitoba’s rich motorsports history is a big reason why the Hall of Fame has been such a tremendous success.

willy@freepress.mb.ca

Gord Brunette

Brunette’s love of cars began as it did for many in the hobby: building model cars. His first real car was a 1954 Austin A40. He has since owned countless others, but the one he has kept the longest is the 1966 Mustang GT coupe he purchased in 1969. After driving it daily until 1974, including many vacations towing a trailer and with a canoe strapped to the roof, the car was parked with more than 300,000 miles on the odometer. Around 1989, Brunette decided to completely restore the car, and with the help of his son, Jason, a top-to-bottom restoration was completed. Today, the car is a show-winning beauty.

Brunette has been involved in the motorsport hobby for more than 30 years. He is a member of the Manitoba Classic and Antique Auto Club (MCAAC). He has also belonged to the Mustang Club and the American Antique Auto Club. He has held many executive positions in the MCAAC ranging from president to newsletter editor.

His greatest accomplishment, however, has been the annual MCAAC Red River Swap Meet, which he has helped organize for 18 years. With the help of Mort McKechnie and Gary Lambert, the swap meet has evolved from a small event at Polo Park Shopping Centre, to the present day event at Red River Exhibition Park. With more than 225 vendors and an estimated 3,000 spectators, this is one event the car guys and gals look forward to each spring. Brunette is especially proud of the fact that since 1983, the swap meet has donated more than 9,000 kilograms of food to Winnipeg Harvest.

Jimbo Fraser

Fraser has been involved with cars for as long as he can remember, and has been active in the motorsport hobby for 45 years. He began at Braemar Automotive where he met Don Sherwin and began helping him work on race cars. Fraser met local racing legend Kenny Lang at the World of Wheels when Lang was only 17 and a longtime friendship was forged. He has worked on Lang’s race cars ever since. He also worked at Boeing, where he perfected his skills working with fibreglass.

Fraser has belonged to the Manitoba Street Rod Association, the Double 4’s Car Club and the St. Boniface Car Club. His accomplishments in the car hobby are many and he has received numerous car show trophies and awards.

Fraser has also helped many in the Winnipeg car scene with their projects, including fabricating custom parts. Fraser estimates he has worked on more than 150 cars over the years. He is from the old school, making all his parts and pieces first with cardboard patterns then transferring the patterns onto metal and cutting them out with a jigsaw and a grinder. The boys at Sandale Automotive marvel at how he turns pieces from the scrap bin into amazing custom brackets that look store bought. Fraser has taught many people his fabricating skills. He has been given free reign by Sandale owner Dale Loewen to use the shop equipment and share his knowledge.

Another of Fraser’s talents is creating car show signs, many of which have been on display alongside show vehicles at the World of Wheels.

He is known to many in the car hobby as the ultimate car guy, always willing to lend a hand and help anyone with their project, no matter how big or small.

Keith MacDonald

Like so many in the hobby, MacDonald also started out building model cars, drawing cars and reading Hot Rod magazine. With almost enough money from his paper route, he borrowed $5 from his father and purchased a new bicycle from Eaton’s. Not satisfied with the colour, MacDonald took the bike apart and painted it candy apple red.

This was the beginning of his passion for painting.

MacDonald joined the Roadmasters Car Club soon after getting his driver’s licence and began working on cars. He purchased a 1955 Studebaker and promptly dismantled it to see what made it tick. He is a self taught welder, painter, bodyman, engine builder and fabricator. Soon after joining the Roadmasters, another member saw the paint job on MacDonald’s Studebaker and asked him to paint his car. His painting career took off from there.

The Roadmaster’s clubhouse and paint shop moved from Portage Avenue to Erin Street and finally to Union Avenue, where Mac’s Custom Painting began.

MacDonald has won numerous awards for his painting prowess and many of the vehicles he has painted have appeared at the World of Wheels.

Another of MacDonald’s passions is racing. He started racing in 1969 with a 1955 Chevrolet he built and raced until the 1980s. He then raced a 1977 Camaro with modifications by Don Ness. In 1991 he purchased a rear engine dragster from Spitzer Industries out of Indiana. After racing the car for a year, he purchased a 1927 Ford Roadster Super Comp, (also from Spitzer Industries) and continued racing across Canada and the United States from 1994 until 2012.

In addition to the Roadmasters, he has belonged to the Drag Racers Association of Manitoba, the National Hot Rod Association and the International Hot Rod Association.

MacDonald’s accomplishments in the motorsport hobby include award-winning paint jobs, numerous car show trophies, an international racing career and a successful painting business. His most memorable moments in the hobby revolve around the people he has met racing and painting cars — many who are still friends today.

— Bios submitted by Don Daly