Long lost Volvo: Tracking down my father-in-law’s old race car

By Dave S. Clark

My father-in-law, Carlo Marrazzo, proudly displays his crash helmet in his living room. It’s the helmet he wore in the late 1970s, when he raced a Volvo 142 at Speedway Park in Edmonton, Alberta. While he still has his helmet, the car he raced and the track he raced at are long gone. For more than three decades Speedway Park has just been a memory, long since bulldozed to become a cookie-cutter residential development.

I had seen several black and white photos of the car, since Carlo was an aspiring photographer during his racing years. But he sold the 142 decades ago and lost track of it after leaving the racing scene. Then one weekend a couple of years ago, while Carlo helping me swap a new engine into one of my cars, we got talking about memories of his Volvo racing adventures. It got me wondering if the car was still out there somewhere.

volvo-vintage-racing-edmonton

I started to hunt for the Volvo, fully expecting to be disappointed in what I’d find. Time isn’t nice to old race cars, and I thought the most likely outcome was finding it rotting and neglected, wasting away since the race track closed. Or maybe it had met a darker fate, crashed into a wall then stripped of all its go-fast parts and sent away for scrap. I started by asking around with the Northern Alberta Sports Car Club, the local racing organization. Nobody remembered the car. I posted wanted ads all over the Internet, with the one little black and white photo that I had. I didn’t get any response.

With nothing but dead ends, I was losing hope. Then, I remembered a racer I had interviewed a few years before. As a reporter at the time, I was covering a support race for the Edmonton Indy and interviewed a local driver named Barry who had been racing a Volvo P1800 for many years. I asked around and got his e-mail address and my first big break. Barry owned the car after Carlo. He didn’t know where it was now, but he sold it to someone in Ontario, who had raced it at Mosport, the famous track east of Toronto. However, that owner had since sold it and Barry no longer knew where it was.

I found the website for the vintage racing association in Ontario and saw photos of a couple of 142s. Unfortunately none of them looked like the one Carlo used to race – white with distinctive vertical stripes running up the front fenders and rear quarter panels. I had no way of knowing if either of the two 142s were once Carlo’s car. I was hitting another dead end.

volvo-142-burnout-vintage

Then, out of sheer coincidence, Barry was forwarded an e-mail from the racer he sold it to. It was photo of the 142, painted in the same style it was when Carlo raced it. The current owner had repainted the car and wanted to show its previous owners that he had taken it back to its former livery.

As soon as I saw the photo, I knew it was the right car. I had found Carlo’s Volvo. It’s number was now 43, instead of 37, but there was no mistaking it. I got the e-mail address of the current owner, Leon, and we exchanged a few photos. He had been racing it for 14 years. He was excited to hear a little bit about the car’s history and I was excited to hear the car was still being used for what it was built for. I surprised Carlo and told him that I had tracked it down and showed him some photos. It was great to see his eyes light up and his memories of the car flood back to him.

volvo-142-race-car-mosport

The best part of the story for me was last June at the 2015 Canadian Historic Grand Prix. I was driving across Canada, following the routes of the Shell 4000 Rallies of the 1960s in my 1967 Volvo 122S for the Canada 5000 Rally, and scheduled my whole trip around the Grand Prix. When I arrived at the track on the first day, my very first sight was watching Carlo’s old 142 tearing down the main straight at Mosport, side by side with another 142, which it edged out into Turn 1. It gave me chills to see the car, still in its full glory, speeding down the track.

Not only did the car survive, it found a loving home. Leon thinks of it as a part of his family and I know that it couldn’t have gone to a better guy. I’d love to see it on the track again and hopefully Carlo will see it someday too.

8 thoughts on “Long lost Volvo: Tracking down my father-in-law’s old race car”

  1. Great Story. It’s so nice to see a 140 saved and still in use. Does anyone know of how someone would get involved racing, or even just lapping one of these cars? I ask because I’m currently restoring a 69 142s in the Toronto area would love to spend some time with these guys.

    1. Hi Robert,
      The best place to start is the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada (VARAC). Their website is here: http://varac.ca/

      I’m not sure what racing experience you already have, but I’d definitely recommend starting with autocross and lapping to get introduced to the sport. Good luck with the restoration!

      Dave

    2. You should show up at the vintage weekend and speak to the guys that race these. Fantastic guys that just love racing old cars.
      There are also a lot of groups around the GTA and beyond that organize lapping days at Mosport, Cayuga, Shannonville. Driving eastward to Calabogie is definitely worth it as well.
      If you aren’t over at BrickBoard, Volvospeed or Turbobricks, they are also worth checking out as well.
      Good luck with the resto!

      1. Thanks TJ. I was a member of TB for a while, I don’t know why I stopped visiting. I’ll definitely make my way back there.

  2. What a feel good story Dave! Love how you take on a project for those you love! I hope you & Carlo get an opportunity to see his car in action one day…that would be cool

  3. Carlo’s 142 looks a lot like the one I owned, road course raced and ice raced in Alberta, from 1985 to the late 1990’s. Indeed it may be the same car that had been Carlo’s #37. When I bought the 142, it had been road raced at Edmonton Speedway under #27 GT2 but in one of the photos of Carlo standing beside #37, the placement of the two decals on the driver’s side rear window ( NASCC and SCCBC) looks identical to their placement on my #27. I can’t remember whether I bought #27 from the same Barry mentioned in the article, or from Steve Vernon, but I did sell it to Barry in the late 1990s at which time it was #87 and painted orange. Barry sold it to someone else later on. It might be the same car; if so it’s great to see it running. If not, it’s still great to see a vintage 142 S in racing trim.

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