Barrie Poole

Barrie Poole, six time Hall of Famer signs a replica of the first poster made in his honour back in 1970 when he was the first Canadian to win the National Hot Rod Association eliminator championship in Pomona, California. Mr Poole is originally from Pooles Corner and now lives in Chatham, Ontario. Charlotte MacAulay photo

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There aren’t too many people who can say they have been inducted into six different Halls of Fame, but Barrie Poole is one who can.

The 75-year old began his formal drag racing career in 1968 after he moved to Toronto, but long before that his passion for building cars was seeded at the Imperial Garage in Pooles Corner, which was operated by his father Milton.

“I grew up in the garage.

Cars were all I was ever interested in,” the now legendary drag racer said.

Mr Poole and his wife, Alice, made a stop in PEI last week on their way to the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame ceremony in Halifax and fresh off the circuit from the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame initiation in Montreal the week before.

Sitting in his brother Alex’s kitchen, wearing a crested jacket and ring from the Montreal ceremony, Mr Poole credits his father Milton with instilling his love of engines.

“I was in the garage anytime I wasn’t in school.

“He (Milton) would give me jobs to do and I would have to do them on my own,” he said.

Through the years that knowledge stayed with him and served him well when he moved to Ontario in the early 1960s.

As much as he loved working on the cars, Mr Poole said cars are made to be driven.

“Drag Racing was something that came natural because on the street that’s what you did growing up,” he said.

Mr Poole worked for many years as a highly respected mechanic for a Ford dealership and that is where his phenomenal racing era began.

As for the acknowledgements; first the PEI sports Hall of Fame 1984; Canadian Motor Sport Hall of Fame 1999; Chatham Sports Hall of Fame 2002; Legends Hall of Fame, Ohio and the two most recent, which Mr Poole said are a true honour.

“It’s nice to have people recognize you.

“Not that we expected it.

“Back in the day we were just doing what we liked to do,” he said.

The turn around year was 1968; before that both he and John Elliot were just racing week to week here and there.

Mr Elliot was his partner driver with the Ford company through those years

“That’s when we started having success on the super stock circuit,” he said.

In 1970 Mr Poole, who wasn’t only the driver, but also the mechanic for both cars, became the first Canadian champion of the National Hot Rod Association eliminator championship in Pomona, California.

It was an achievement that not only cemented his career over the next three decades, but also led him to be named one of the Border Bandits, so named because they brought numerous trophies from their wins in the United States back to Canada.

Ms Poole said those were exciting times.

Track side, she was in charge of making sure the little red wagon of water jugs was close at hand to spray down the vehicles after each race.

“There were many weekends spent travelling and I was in the stands doing my thing,” she said.

But both agree it wasn’t all fun and games.

The days were long.

After every race the cars were taken apart to make sure there were no illegal elements tucked inside and they all had to be put back together again before the next day’s competition.

These days Mr Poole is pretty well finished with tinkering with motors - except for one that is.

A bright red 1951 Ford has been painstakingly built over the last little while.

The mint condition street rod with a modern drive train, power steering and custom welded console is just about road ready and the Pooles look forward to the day they can get behind the wheel.

“I call it the ‘Grocery Getter’,” Ms Poole said.

“It’s just to drive and enjoy,” Mr Poole added.


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