Wednesday 21 October 2009

The Hubley Bluenose Special - A Gift to Canada

A few years ago, I was contacted via email by a gentleman from Ottawa looking for some Nova Scotia-based graphics to add to the vintage Halifax race car he had just restored. I offered to provide some period-style graphics and he accepted.

In 2007, I finally got to meet him, Dave Boon, and see this beautiful old racer with my graphics on it. Here is the story of the old racer in Dave's words.

Anyone who has visited the notorious Corner 2 during the June VARAC events (at Mosport, Ontario) will know of the historic #6—the Hubley Bluenose Special.
This open wheel dirt track racer was the last of a succession of dirt track racers built and successfully raced by Haligonian garage mechanic Reg Hubley, over the mid to late 1930's—and is now the only known surviving mobile Canadian pre-war race car!
The highlight of the 1930's race season for Maritime half-mile dirt pilots was the presentation each fall of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition, where on each final Saturday the 1/2 mile horse oval featured the race cars.
For the 1938 race season Reg and brother Oz built a "new" #6, with the body fabricated by his father Milton Hubley, a sheet metal tradesman.
An accounting of that 1938 Exhibition race was given in the July 30 1957 Halifax Mail-Star as follows:
“A homemade racing car, which in its day topped the best racers from the USA, is currently in the hands of Ted Jenkins. Auto racing reached it's peak in this area just before the second world war and top honours were taken by mechanically talented Reg Hubley (4/09/06 to 7/4/41) who drove the car to victory at the Halifax Exhibition grounds at speeds up to 100 mph against a field of foreign racing cars.
With war declared in Sept. '39 and auto racing put on hold, #6 was now taking up valuable shop floor space. It was decided to hoist the car up into the rafters for the duration—where it rested out of sight and mind—and fortuitously escaped the wartime scrap-drives."
Come 1995 the car is now in the possession of Reg's nephew Bob Hubley of St. John's, Newfoundland, who puts it up for sale.
I contacted him—and fearing that it could very likely be sold outside of Canada—I ended up buying it and had it transported to my home here in Ottawa.
The car's chassis is a Z-ironed T-frame, reinforced full length by cedar 2 x 4's. It's shod by four sturdy 1933 Chev wires (wheels), mounted at the rear on a 1926 Ford Model T rear axle, and at the front on a "suicide " re-shaped Model T front axle.
The four radius rods fitted to #6 can be found pictured in the Chevrolet Bros. 1920's catalogue at $24 per pair, as well as the two "racing spindles" at $30 a pair.
Ignition—primitive but effective—is by a chain driven tractor magneto. The power plant is a sturdy 4 cyl. OHV 1925 171 ci Chev engine, equipped with a 1927 "Superior" head, driving through a '20s Chev transmission.
In 2002, I completely rebuilt the engine and fitted it with a Fish carb. In February 2003 and 2006 I hauled it to Zephyr Hills, Florida where it at least held it's own on the curves in the "early big car " class.
In honour of it's origins, it's been painted Nova Scotia blue, and with the artistic help of graphic designer/illustrator Paul Chenard, it's name the "Hubley Bluenose Special ", plus the province's official seal, are emblazoned on the cowl.
Ever since obtaining #6 some 13 years ago, I've always looked upon myself as being its "caretaker"—not the owner. To ensure that the “Hubley” never leaves Canada, effective January 2009, this historic race car has been donated to Canada's Museum of Science and Technology transportation collection here in Ottawa.
Dave Boon
Ottawa, Ontario

Thanks to Dave's generosity, this beautiful piece of Canadian racing heritage is the sole centre-piece of the auto/transportation display at the museum in the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.


Vikram Ambrose said...

Hello from Ottawa

José Carrilho (Go Detail) said...


Now, that's something I'd like to drive.
Nowadays one enters a car and it doesn't feel like DRIVING.

Kind regards,