Book Review: The Road Across Canada by Edward McCourt

Many people have driven across Canada, including several who did it long before Edward McCourt set out for his journey from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C. But nobody has ever chronicled their trip in such a beautiful fashion as McCourt did in The Road Across Canada.

Full disclosure: this book was published in 1965, so it’s more than 50 years old and has been out of print for decades. But there’s still plenty of copies floating around. I found an ex-library copy for about $5 on AbeBooks.com.

McCourt made the trek with his wife in 1962, the same year the Trans-Canada Highway was officially opened, although it was far from being completed at that point. The book is broken down into chapters on each Canadian province that McCourt drove through. Along the way, he masterfully intertwines relevant tales of Canadian history to the regions he is passing through. Canadian history can be a bit dull, but McCourt finds a way to make the tales interesting and engaging. Having driven many of the same routes over the years, I am quite familiar with the towns and cities he visits. He paints each stop wonderfully and with great accuracy, which isn’t always flattering. Continue reading “Book Review: The Road Across Canada by Edward McCourt”

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. Continue reading “Long lost Volvo: Tracking down my father-in-law’s old race car”

We made it and so did the Volvo Amazon! Canada 5000 a huge success!

By Dave S. Clark

We did it!

The L. Hansen’s Forwarding Canada 5000 Rally Against Alzheimer’s was a major success, mostly due to the fact we actually made it all the way from Edmonton to Vancouver to Halifax in the 48-year-old Volvo Amazon that we rebuilt in the months leading up to the trip.

We were also successful in raising between $11,000 and $12,000 (still waiting on confirmation) for Alzheimer’s Societies across Canada, which we’re extremely proud of. You can also still donate by visiting www.Canada5000.ca. Continue reading “We made it and so did the Volvo Amazon! Canada 5000 a huge success!”

AMC Rambler Shell 4000 Rally prototype pops up at Bring A Trailer Auctions

By Dave S. Clark

I can count on one hand how many Shell 4000 cars that are still known to exist. One of the McQuirk brothers still owns the Bentley Mark VI that he ran in the 1963 Rally. Paddy Hopkirk’s disqualified Mini from ’68 is still out there. Shell 4000 historian Marcel Chichak knows of a few more. But that’s pretty much it.

So it was incredibly exciting to see a car with Shell 4000 history pop up on Bring A Trailer Auctions – a 1968 AMC Rambler that was the company’s development prototype for the ’68 version of the trans-Canada rally. The car didn’t actually compete but was the mule for the team of three AMC cars that ran the rally, finishing second, third and fifth. This prototype also followed the rally all the way from Calgary to Halifax, just in case any of the cars needed support.  Continue reading “AMC Rambler Shell 4000 Rally prototype pops up at Bring A Trailer Auctions”

Shell vintage road maps a lifesaver for Canada 5000 route

By Dave S. Clark

For my Canada 5000 adventure, I will be strictly following various routes of the original Shell 4000, which means attempting to follow a route that was mapped out 50-plus years ago. That presents a number of challenges and one of the biggest is trying to decipher what the new names of many of the roads and highways are now.

The original allies were run in the 1960s, which was a transitional period for Canada’s highway system. The Trans Canada Highway was officially opened in 1962, but all that really meant was that there was a road from St. John’s to Victoria. The highway was mostly paved, but in many stretches, it was still gravel and hardly a highway by modern standards. Many of the roads that have now become the Trans Canada were still being built and sometimes, along different routes from the original roads. In the 1961 rally, a section of the route in Ontario actually followed what would soon become the Trans Canada, but at that point was still under construction!  Continue reading “Shell vintage road maps a lifesaver for Canada 5000 route”

Rally Against Alzheimer’s – Official charity announcement

We are very excited to announce that we are partnering with provincial Alzheimer’s Societies across the country for the upcoming Canada 5000, which we’ve tagged as the Rally Against Alzheimer’s!

Aside from the experience this rally provides us as automotive enthusiasts, it is also about raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and money to fight it. We are raising funds through donations and sponsorships, with all of the proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta. All money raised outside Alberta will be donated to the respective provincial Alzheimer’s Society chapter.

Stay tuned as we will soon be set up to accept online donations for anyone wishing to make a contribution to our cause.  Continue reading “Rally Against Alzheimer’s – Official charity announcement”

Volvo Amazon: The perfect rally car for the Canada 5000

By Dave S. Clark

When you first lay eyes on a stock Volvo Amazon, it may not scream ‘rally car.’ Compared to the sports cars that the British, Japanese and Americans were making at the time, it doesn’t look very sporty and certainly by 1970, when production wrapped up after a 14 year run, it looked quite dated. The Volvo Amazon, also known as the 122S, seems to have borrowed styling cues from early 1950s Chevrolets and Chryslers and could be a two-thirds scale version of those cars mashed together.

So why did I choose this car for the Canada 5000? The simple answer is because of its pedigree. It doesn’t look much like a rally car or a sports car, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it had an incredible run during its time. Not only did an Amazon win the Shell 4000 twice, in 1964 and 1965, it also lays claim to three class wins, a second overall finish, a third overall finish and two fourth overall finishes. Continue reading “Volvo Amazon: The perfect rally car for the Canada 5000”

Introducing the Canada 5000

By Dave S. Clark

I’m very excited to announce a project that I’ve been working on for the past few months – The Canada 5000.

The Canada 5000 is part history project – recounting the famous Shell 4000 Rally races that ran across Canada in the 1960s. It’s part road trip – following various routes of the original Shell 4000 Rally, but stretching it out to 5000 miles across nine Canadian provinces. It’s part car rebuild – we’ll be driving a 1967 Volvo 122S, so I’ll be taking a non-running 48-year-old Swedish sedan and bringing it back to life so that it can make this journey. It’s part writing project – I’ll be documenting the whole experience and interviewing the drivers and co-drivers who ran the original rally. It’s part fundraiser – my partner in this project Dave Myers and I will be raising money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease. Continue reading “Introducing the Canada 5000”