Hall of Fame drag

Sports Oct 26, 2016 by Adam Jackson Kitchener Post

To say oil and gas run in Bert Straus’ veins would be an understatement.

Even in semi-retirement, he finds solace in working on other peoples’ cars in his small garage in an industrial park in north Waterloo.

Last week, he was able to add another title to his name — Hall of Famer. He was inducted into the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Montreal.

He’s also a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame after being inducted in 2003.

Straus’ love for cars came well before he found himself on the race track.

At the age of 16 — on his birthday — the former Preston farm boy went out and got his licence. Soon after, his first car was purchased.

“Cars have been my life since I was a kid,” said Straus during an interview in his garage. “I would always put bigger engines in cars and all that just for the street.”

The first vehicle he tinkered with was a 1957 Dodge Regent.

After that, he saw a slue of different vehicles, including a Dodge Charger 440 Magnum — the first car he took on the race track in the stock class on tracks across Ontario.

One day, he has the opportunity to purchase a classic Willys — a 1940s era sedan.

“It was in rough shape and it was tough to build it up to class 1,” said Straus. “The body was rusted really bad, we had to mount the engine and build it up because the 1940 Willys only had a four-cylinder engine in it.”

Drag racing is split into multiple classes, with Top Fuel being the typical dragsters seen in pop culture. They range to funny car, pro stock, alcohol and stock categories. Straus competed in the altered and pro-stock classes.

Straus raced professional for 10 years through the 1960s and 1970s, campaigning with his flagship car — the Chilly Willy.

According to industry sources, the Chilly Willy is still one of the most notable drag racing cars in Canada.

In 1973, he teamed up with Pontiac to build and compete in pro stock with the Pontiac Astro, which was built in Quebec at the time. The Astro was the only All-Canadian car of its time.

Straus and his team were able to race the Astro when they were stopped by race organizers.

“They said ‘You can’t race that, it’s not a North American car,’” said Straus, still flabbergasted that organizers didn’t know Quebec was part of Canada.

“We had to fight it.”

At that time, there was little or no Canadian participation at professional U.S. events, so the confusion by our friends to the south could be understood.

“I got an awful lot of ink from it, though. It was in every magazine, every newspaper,” said Straus.

Over his 10-year career, he’s seen a lot of change and even now, as a semi-retired mechanic, it continues.

“It has advanced at a ridiculous rate. You can’t stay the same two weeks.”

Even after leaving drag racing, Straus couldn’t keep his fingers out of the grease.

He found himself working on Indie cars with his son Don, who got into racing, but not to the same extent as his father.

“That was a lot of fun, too. He got to go a lot of different places.”

For Straus, the racing really felt like work. Although there was a lot of work to be done behind the scenes before getting behind the wheel, it didn’t feel like it.

“It has to be born in you a little bit,” said Straus, adding that he was hooked after starting to drive the family’s tractor at the age of eight. “I like any kind of racing — as long as it has wheels.”

For more information on the drag racing hall of fame in Canada, visit www.dragracecanada.com.

Hall of Fame drag

Sports Oct 26, 2016 by Adam Jackson Kitchener Post

To say oil and gas run in Bert Straus’ veins would be an understatement.

Even in semi-retirement, he finds solace in working on other peoples’ cars in his small garage in an industrial park in north Waterloo.

Last week, he was able to add another title to his name — Hall of Famer. He was inducted into the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Montreal.

He’s also a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame after being inducted in 2003.

Straus’ love for cars came well before he found himself on the race track.

At the age of 16 — on his birthday — the former Preston farm boy went out and got his licence. Soon after, his first car was purchased.

“Cars have been my life since I was a kid,” said Straus during an interview in his garage. “I would always put bigger engines in cars and all that just for the street.”

The first vehicle he tinkered with was a 1957 Dodge Regent.

After that, he saw a slue of different vehicles, including a Dodge Charger 440 Magnum — the first car he took on the race track in the stock class on tracks across Ontario.

One day, he has the opportunity to purchase a classic Willys — a 1940s era sedan.

“It was in rough shape and it was tough to build it up to class 1,” said Straus. “The body was rusted really bad, we had to mount the engine and build it up because the 1940 Willys only had a four-cylinder engine in it.”

Drag racing is split into multiple classes, with Top Fuel being the typical dragsters seen in pop culture. They range to funny car, pro stock, alcohol and stock categories. Straus competed in the altered and pro-stock classes.

Straus raced professional for 10 years through the 1960s and 1970s, campaigning with his flagship car — the Chilly Willy.

According to industry sources, the Chilly Willy is still one of the most notable drag racing cars in Canada.

In 1973, he teamed up with Pontiac to build and compete in pro stock with the Pontiac Astro, which was built in Quebec at the time. The Astro was the only All-Canadian car of its time.

Straus and his team were able to race the Astro when they were stopped by race organizers.

“They said ‘You can’t race that, it’s not a North American car,’” said Straus, still flabbergasted that organizers didn’t know Quebec was part of Canada.

“We had to fight it.”

At that time, there was little or no Canadian participation at professional U.S. events, so the confusion by our friends to the south could be understood.

“I got an awful lot of ink from it, though. It was in every magazine, every newspaper,” said Straus.

Over his 10-year career, he’s seen a lot of change and even now, as a semi-retired mechanic, it continues.

“It has advanced at a ridiculous rate. You can’t stay the same two weeks.”

Even after leaving drag racing, Straus couldn’t keep his fingers out of the grease.

He found himself working on Indie cars with his son Don, who got into racing, but not to the same extent as his father.

“That was a lot of fun, too. He got to go a lot of different places.”

For Straus, the racing really felt like work. Although there was a lot of work to be done behind the scenes before getting behind the wheel, it didn’t feel like it.

“It has to be born in you a little bit,” said Straus, adding that he was hooked after starting to drive the family’s tractor at the age of eight. “I like any kind of racing — as long as it has wheels.”

For more information on the drag racing hall of fame in Canada, visit www.dragracecanada.com.

Hall of Fame drag

Sports Oct 26, 2016 by Adam Jackson Kitchener Post

To say oil and gas run in Bert Straus’ veins would be an understatement.

Even in semi-retirement, he finds solace in working on other peoples’ cars in his small garage in an industrial park in north Waterloo.

Last week, he was able to add another title to his name — Hall of Famer. He was inducted into the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Montreal.

He’s also a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame after being inducted in 2003.

Straus’ love for cars came well before he found himself on the race track.

At the age of 16 — on his birthday — the former Preston farm boy went out and got his licence. Soon after, his first car was purchased.

“Cars have been my life since I was a kid,” said Straus during an interview in his garage. “I would always put bigger engines in cars and all that just for the street.”

The first vehicle he tinkered with was a 1957 Dodge Regent.

After that, he saw a slue of different vehicles, including a Dodge Charger 440 Magnum — the first car he took on the race track in the stock class on tracks across Ontario.

One day, he has the opportunity to purchase a classic Willys — a 1940s era sedan.

“It was in rough shape and it was tough to build it up to class 1,” said Straus. “The body was rusted really bad, we had to mount the engine and build it up because the 1940 Willys only had a four-cylinder engine in it.”

Drag racing is split into multiple classes, with Top Fuel being the typical dragsters seen in pop culture. They range to funny car, pro stock, alcohol and stock categories. Straus competed in the altered and pro-stock classes.

Straus raced professional for 10 years through the 1960s and 1970s, campaigning with his flagship car — the Chilly Willy.

According to industry sources, the Chilly Willy is still one of the most notable drag racing cars in Canada.

In 1973, he teamed up with Pontiac to build and compete in pro stock with the Pontiac Astro, which was built in Quebec at the time. The Astro was the only All-Canadian car of its time.

Straus and his team were able to race the Astro when they were stopped by race organizers.

“They said ‘You can’t race that, it’s not a North American car,’” said Straus, still flabbergasted that organizers didn’t know Quebec was part of Canada.

“We had to fight it.”

At that time, there was little or no Canadian participation at professional U.S. events, so the confusion by our friends to the south could be understood.

“I got an awful lot of ink from it, though. It was in every magazine, every newspaper,” said Straus.

Over his 10-year career, he’s seen a lot of change and even now, as a semi-retired mechanic, it continues.

“It has advanced at a ridiculous rate. You can’t stay the same two weeks.”

Even after leaving drag racing, Straus couldn’t keep his fingers out of the grease.

He found himself working on Indie cars with his son Don, who got into racing, but not to the same extent as his father.

“That was a lot of fun, too. He got to go a lot of different places.”

For Straus, the racing really felt like work. Although there was a lot of work to be done behind the scenes before getting behind the wheel, it didn’t feel like it.

“It has to be born in you a little bit,” said Straus, adding that he was hooked after starting to drive the family’s tractor at the age of eight. “I like any kind of racing — as long as it has wheels.”

For more information on the drag racing hall of fame in Canada, visit www.dragracecanada.com.